New Orleans has been a longstanding professional golf tournament host dating back to 1938 – that predates the PGA Tour! It’s with good reason. N’awlins is one of the country’s most festive cities. In between tee times you can enjoy fine cajun cuisine and soak in all the sights and sounds and libations of the French Quarter. Booking an early morning tee time at TPC Louisiana in New Orleans might give added motivation to go easy on the shenanigans on Bourbon Street the night before.
What makes New Orleans even better for golf is that TPC Louisiana, now the host of the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic, is publicly accessible and bookable on GolfNow. The course was designed by Pete Dye with local player consultant Kelly Gibson and opened in 2004. It also received an extensive facelift in 2019 so it’s playing as good as ever and the many five-star GolfPass reviews reflect that.
The course is located about 20 minutes outside the French Quarter and set within a quiet and scenic lowcountry setting. It’s at such a low elevation that the bunkers have a cool, built-up look to them. The PGA Tour plays the routing at up to 7,400 yards, but my goodness, play one of the four forward tees that go up to 5,100 yards. Remember, balls don’t fly too far on the sticky bayou.
Maybe the best thing about TPC Louisiana is all the risk-reward elements involved in the course design, including several short par 4s like the 8th. Big swingers can go for the green, but there are plenty of bunkers in the way. The 18th hole is one of the most exciting finishing holes on the PGA Tour schedule. Who doesn’t love a reachable par 5 to close out a round? But be warned, water lines the right-hand side and bunkers sprinkle the fairway and green surrounds. These days, the Zurich Classic is now a unique team event on the PGA Tour schedule. Book a foursome, partner up and play aggressive! No mention of TPC Louisiana is complete without a mention of the club’s resident “pro emeritus,” Tripod, the three-legged gator who likes to cruise the grounds’ various ponds, especially by the 9th and 18th holes. Please, respect his home and keep your distance if you see him or his neighbors.
TPC Louisiana has made the state Golfers’ Choice list five years running and was 18th in Off-Course Amenities nationally in 2018. Or as reviewer ‘TheWhizz77’ put it in his five-star review written in March, 2020: “Really beautiful course, demands all shots, fantastic pace of play and conditions. Watch out for the 4th hole!!”Show up early and stay late when you book a TPC Louisiana tee time. The practice facility is TPC-grade excellent with a short game area and all-grass range. The clubhouse restaurant has fine cajun staples as well.
Don’t sleep on the previous PGA Tour host course in New Orleans, either. English Turn Golf & Country Club is a semi-private Jack Nicklaus design that opened in the mid-1980s and hosted the event from 1989 to 2004. Jack laid out a unique routing encircled by a lagoon which helps provide more separation from the course and residences. The climax is the par-5 15th hole which has an island green. Smoke a big drive and you’ll be tempted to go for broke and reach it in two. English Turn amenities are magnificent, including one of the largest clubhouses you’ll ever see. Stick around after for a Po’Boy in the restaurant.
GolfPass Check out our Ultimate Itinerary to New Orleans on GolfPass, featuring my five-day itinerary for golf, dining and more. Watch here.
Golf on the gulf is a beautiful and breezy affair, and one we might typically associate more with Florida or Mississippi or Alabama. Texas does have a handful of plays right on the coast, and none are more convenient to a major metro area than Moody Gardens Golf Course in Galveston, Texas.
Moody Gardens is a well-known attraction on this barrier historic island about an hour’s drive from downtown Houston. It’s also the only publicly accessible tee time in the destination. This Texas golf resort features a legendary aquarium as well as tropical rainforest. Just keep an eye out as you arrive on the island for the three glass pyramids.
Not long after they expanded their property to include a hotel and convention center, Moody Gardens acquired the existing municipal golf course located on the other side of the small airport and invested over $16 million into an extensive rebuild of the course to make it drier and more fun to play. Opened in 2008, golf course architects Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy transformed the old layout into something very links inspired with rolling and rippling fairways and with the gulf sea breeze blowing in off the gulf. They also installed wall-to-wall paspalum turf, which is more saltwater tolerant and also promotes a fun ground game (recommended in the wind around here). Besides a few forced carries, most greens are receptive from lower-running ground shots. Three par 5s on the front side, including a fairly gentle opening par 5, make for some great birdie opportunities. As for par 3s, their distances vary greatly, but your best bet to hit it stiff is on the chip-shot par-3 17th:
The 18-hole golf course winds through bayous from start to finish and the back nine runs out and back along a narrow stretch of land between the bayou and airport. There are a lot of water holes and some forced carries throughout, so be warned. Hopefully you can make your birdie or two before the 18th. It’s a long par 4 that doglegs left and requires a long carry over water on the second shot. You’ve been warned!
Facilities here include the small Pelican Grill that recently assumed new management and serves breakfast and lunch. There is a full driving range and two practice greens, one of which has a practice bunker. After golf, you’re just minutes from Moody Gardens attractions, beaches and historic downtown Galveston.
Thanks in part to affordable rates for a resort course, Moody Gardens has made the GolfPass Golfers’ Choice awards for the state of Texas every single yea (No. 7 in 2021).
“Great overall conditions, great conditioned tee boxes, greens are great,” wrote Garcia27 in a GolfPass review in December, 2020. “Lunch: very fresh, good course food…we ordered ahead & overall good. Drink cart was well stocked, cold beer & the Rita’s were good. Staff upon checking us in was very accommodating to our 4some plus 1 rider. The outdoor music playing in the chipping area sets a good vibe for the round, great job guys! We will be back!”
2020 was an epic year for golfers of all levels. Rounds played were up coast-to-coast and abroad. The sport was a beacon of safe and socially distant outdoor recreation for millions in a difficult year. Golfers appeared to savor their rounds like never before.
Golf Advisor received over 264,000 reviews in 2020 alone! That is the largest amount ever and a huge increase year-over-year. The annual Golfers’ Choice lists, now available to view for free on GolfPass, showcase the best public-access courses according to their review community. The lists seek out the courses large and small, expensive and affordable, that delivered exceptional experiences to everyday players.
One of the most useful lists is the Most Improved Top 25. This list was based on the courses that improved their ratings the most year-over-year. This list showcases how our review community can help spotlight up-and-coming courses in your market.
All the Golfers’ Choice courses are public access and many can be booked online right here at GolfNow.com. You can find your state on this landing page and see which courses are receiving excellent reviews that you haven’t experienced yet.
Congratulations to all the courses that made the lists! If you play a course that delivers an exceptional experience, you can support them by leaving a course review and also alert your fellow golfers to the great things happening there. Your review may help that course make a list next year.
Have a great 2021 golf season!
When on the fairways of Legends Golf Club at Temeku Hills in Temecula, Calif., your golf ball isn’t the only sphere that will be getting your attention. Located in the heart of Temecula Wine Country, this area is also well-known for its hot-air balloon enthusiasts. So a round here, especially in the morning, may be filled with onlookers soaring quietly high, high above the links.
“If you get out first thing in the morning, you might catch the hot air balloons!” wrote Golf Advisor reviewer AgentBaldEagle in their October, 2020 review. AgentBaldEagle even posted visual evidence:
Legends Golf Club has delivered an updated and excellent experience to Temecula-area golfers since new ownership purchased the course in 2011 (the course was formerly named “Temeku Hills”). Golf course architect P.B. Dye updated the original Ted Robinson layout, which features many elevated and multi-tiered greens with a wide variety of pin locations that regulars will enjoy. It’s a great layout for all levels of player with five sets of tees to choose from. It’s also a Youth on Course partner facility. YOC members can play nine holes for $5 after 3pm.
“I absolutely loved this course,” wrote Golf Advisor reviewer TP33 in an August, 2020 review. “This course was well worth the money. The course is laid out very nicely and had some unique holes. Looking forward to playing here again. It’s one of my favorites in the Temecula area now.”
Come early for your tee time and enjoy the club’s excellent amenities. The Legends facility features a great practice facility that includes a chipping area and 8,000-square-foot putting green. Recent updates to the Legends facility includes a new fleet of Club Car golf carts with plush seats. Those hot-air ballooners aren’t the only ones riding around here in style.
It’s Giving Tuesday! With that said, we’re excited to
announce our new partnership with Youth on Course and introduce you to a new
way to give back to the game we all love. Youth on Course provides access to
life-changing opportunities to youth through the game of golf by making golf accessible
Growing the game of golf is a shared mission by both GolfNow
and Youth on Course. As a GolfNow golfer, you’ll be able to assist in this
effort by rounding up the total cost of a reservation to an even-dollar figure,
which will be donated to Youth on Course. For example, if the cost of a tee
time totals $34.65, you can elect to round up the cost to $35, donating the additional
$0.35 to Youth on Course.
Rounding up your change to the nearest dollar goes directly towards providing young people with summer job opportunities, college scholarships, and affordable access to golf! Round up and give back the next time you book a round with GolfNow.
Have a youngster in your life between the ages of 6-19 who wants to play more golf? Have them check out Youth on Course for a membership, so they can start playing rounds for $5 or less!
It’s tough to not feel just a shade envious when strolling the grounds of Saddlebrook Golf & Tennis Resort near Tampa. Also the home of a boarding prep school for elite golf and tennis players, you’ll see smiling kids enjoying open-air meals, lounging at the pool and strolling the manicured resort trails en route to classes or instruction or the first tee.
Doesn’t exactly sound like your own high school experience, does it?
Then, of course, their grooved golf swings are of course something to behold.
The good news is we can all feel young again at 36-hole Saddlebrook Resort. Spread across 480 scenic acres full of preserved wetlands and forests, there are two charming 18-hole courses to choose from, a rejuvenating spa, four dining concepts and an excellent practice center and academy.
“The Palmer is well maintained and is easily one of my favorites,” wrote catkins101 in a Golf Advisor review from July, 2020. “The greens are perfect and there is a lot to offer after your round. For the price, this is the best non-private course in the area.”
The 18th hole of the Saddlebrook Course is a long and narrow par 4 that wraps around a pond and finishes next to the main resort compound where there may very well be onlookers eying your finish.
Saddlebrook is equipped for buddies trips by offering stay-and-play packages in spacious and fully-equipped onsite villa accommodations. If you’d like to send a junior to sample the Saddlebrook life, the resort offers golf and tennis camps during holiday breaks. And of course, parents are welcome to enjoy all the resort has to offer as well.
Check out this Golf Advisor Round Trip video that spotlights the history of Saddlebrook Resort and a visit with owner Thomas Dempsey, including its association with Arnold Palmer. WATCH HERE