NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans is the kind of vibrant town that makes it tough to leave for too long for 18 holes of golf. Fortunately, short-and-sweet Audubon Park Golf Course is just minutes from the French Quarter and central business district.
Audubon Park is a special place that dates back to the 19th century in New Orleans, and golf has been part of the attractions since 1898. The 350-acre park plan was laid out by the Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm (their father, Frederick Law Olmsted, designed New York City's Central Park as well as the Village of Pinehurst) and is named after distinguished artist and naturalist John James Audubon. Among other amenities at this oasis near Tulane University and Loyola University is the Audubon Zoo, general-use park space, a dog park and bicycle and walking trails. In fact, horseback riders can even be spotted riding along the perimeter.
The golf course, which sports an 1898 founding year, is now a sublime 18-hole, 4220-yard par 62 after being totally rebuilt in 2002 by architect Dennis Griffiths. There are three sets of tees, with the forward set playing 3,341 yards. It may be a "short course" but it's well-conditioned and there are a handful of opportunities to hit driver. On each nine, the first and fifth holes are par 4s and the final hole is a par 5 (the rest are par 3s). So you'll certainly have the chance to hit every club in your bag. Better players can walk along with juniors and newcomers and have a great time either walking or riding. There is something really special about this property, dotted with lagoons and mossy oaks, that even top architects have taken notice. Tom Doak included it among his 18 "Gourmet's Choice" courses to check out in the southern U.S. in his Confidential Guide to Golf Courses series.
There is no driving range here but a wonderful clubhouse that serves lunch both indoors and on a patio overlooking a lawn guarded by towering oaks. It's a picturesque wedding venue in addition to serving golfers. The course is one of 19 on the Audubon Golf Trail, which showcases top courses throughout the state of Louisiana, and is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. Green fees for non-city residents are dynamic but peak out at about $48 with a cart.