Fore! Songbirds are singing and whistling; the sky is a deep fresh blue with fluffy white clouds, I am standing to the side of the green letting another group play through. I am not in the zone today – unless mulligans are a zone. As I wait, I think about where I am and how this trail of 15 golf courses is dedicated to protect the environment and preserve an English game that dates to the early 1500’s. Starting in the Sportsman’s Paradise area of Northern Louisiana and stretching to Cajun Country in the Southwest and Greater New Orleans in the Southeast regions, each course is designed to showcase the beauty and diversity of this state that is as striking as the game.
The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary for Golf Courses is named after the German naturalist and artist John James Audubon who became enchanted by Louisiana’s natural beauty. All the courses on the trail are members of the program dedicated to protecting the environment and preserving the natural heritage of the game of golf.
Once a golf club becomes a member of this prestigious program, Audubon International provides educational and guidance assistance to help the club develop an environmental plan that encompasses wildlife and habitat management, water quality and conservation, chemical use reduction and safety.
Black Bear Golf Course
Located just off Interstate 20 in Delhi, Louisiana is Black Bear Golf Course, an 18-hole course suitable for all skill levels boasting certified dwarf TifEagle greens and four sets of tees. Perched along Macon Ridge, Black Bear’s 7,200-yard championship layout curves through tree-lined holes and open approaches. Ranked as one of Golfweek’s best courses in 2014, Black Bear Golf Club is a perfect weekend getaway featuring lakefront cabins, a quaint bistro cafe, and a luxury RV park that is ideal for hosting tournaments or a relaxing Sunday on the greens.
Springfield, Louisiana is home to Carter Plantation designed by PGA champion David Toms is a stunning par-72, 18-hole course that plays through rugged live oaks, towering pine forests that whistle softly when the breeze rustles through the branches, and cypress wetlands nodding to Mother Nature’s wisdom. Tremendous endeavors are in place to preserve the native habitats within these signature terrains.
OakWing Golf Club
OakWing Golf Club, a public links-style course centrally located at England Air Force Base in Alexandria merges Louisiana’s mystical cypress bayous and lakes with challenging rolling hills and certified TifEagle greens delivering fun complex plays at every hole. This 18-hole course designed by premier golf architect Jim Lipe with five unique tee settings is the perfect course for all skill levels wanting to take their game to the next level.
Tamahka Trails Golf Course
The town of Marksville is home not only to Tamahka Trails Golf Course but also to the first land-based casino in Louisiana. Tamahka – the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe word for alligator, symbolizes the birth of ideas and how to use them to improve your life, which is precisely what the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe did when they brought master golf course architect Steve Smyers on board to design this regal course.
Since the opening of the resort in 1994, Marksville changed from a sleepy village into a bustling resort town boasting not only an 18-hole course but also a 10,000 square foot putting green, 50,000 square feet of hitting area dedicated to pitching, chipping, and bunker play. Speaking of bunkers, Tamahka Trails offers numerous strategically placed bunkers of varying sizes to make this course a rewarding and satisfying challenge.
When you need to rest your backswing, the Paragon Casino offers varied activities ranging from table games, slots, and video poker, to a vibrant nightlife of live concerts and comedy on their showroom stage.
Greater New Orleans
The Golf Club at Audubon Park
Located in the historic 19th century Uptown neighborhood, The Golf Club at Audubon Park, designed by Denis Griffiths and Associates, rated 4 ½ stars by Golf Digest sits among the elegant Greek Revival houses and distinct Creole cottages that New Orleans is known for.
Surrounded by hundred-year-old majestic live oak trees, this 18-hole, par-62 course with a 4,220-yard expanse boasts twelve par-3s, four par-4s, and two par-5s within their certified TifEagle greens. Four strategically placed lagoons not only add a degree of difficulty to this pristinely manicured course, but they also offer sanctuary for many of New Orleans water birds.
Golf to Help Support a Healthy Ecosystem
How can you help our planet maintain a healthy and biodiverse ecosystem? The answer is simple, by playing at any of the over 820 worldwide certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries for golf – 690 of those courses are within the United States.
Audubon International believes that starting at local levels by creating partnerships and collaborating with businesses, governments, and nonprofit organizations to build awareness of healthy ecosystems is key to a harmonious and healthy planet.