TPC Louisiana uses bunkers to challenge all types

By Mike BaileyApril 19, 2010, 11:20 pm
tpc louisiana
The 15th hole at TPC Louisiana near New Orleans

AVONDALE, La. – No other golf course design element can distinguish a good player from a not-so-good one quite like a bunker. It makes sense, then, that Pete Dye included 103 of them in his design of TPC Louisiana, host of the PGA Tour Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Dye, with input from player consultants Steve Elkington and New Orleans native Kelly Gibson, put bunkers everywhere. They’re in landing areas and around the greens. Some are tiny, others are the size of a football field. In truth to their name, hazards, 62 of them are pot bunkers. It’s hard enough avoiding them, but getting your ball up and down is no easy task.

Other than that, there's not much to contend with on this par-72, 7,520-yard golf course – except for the mounds, water, small greens and towering pines and cypress trees.

In other words, there's trouble everywhere at this PGA Tour venue.

TPC Louisiana demands patience

It's hard to believe that this was once just a flat piece of swampland next to New Orleans. But in true Pete Dye fashion, earth was moved to create mounding, lakes, lagoons and 20 acres of bunkers and waste bunkers.

It’s no wonder that when the course opened in 2004, Dye quipped that PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem 'finds a flat site, and then he calls me.

'But I appreciate the confidence he has in me,' Dye added. 'And, what the heck, I still love digging in the dirt.'

Despite all its trouble, the TPC Louisiana, part of Louisiana's Audubon Golf Trail, plays hard and fast. In other words, don't be intimidated by the yardage, even from the tips, which is 7,400 yards for non-tour players.

But patience here is a virtue. Miss it on the correct side of the greens, and you've got reasonable up and down opportunities. Find a bunker, and things get tougher, even on greenside bunkers, which are often set away from the green with a chipping area in between.

'If you're aggressive and miss, you'll pay the price,' said TPC General Manager Luke Farabaugh.

Dye is famous, of course, for the island green 17th hole on the Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass in Florida, but what about island fairways surrounded by sand, not water?

That's exactly what you'll find on the 1ong par-4 15th. Off the tee left of the fairway, there's a 150-yard bunker with six small islands of turf in it. Chances are you won't find grass if you hit your ball in there, but you won't soon forget it either.

Oddly enough, in this area where water is plentiful, none of it is natural on the 250-acre TPC; but it is bountiful. It plays prominently on the par 3s. On the ninth and 17th, which are similar in shape and length, water runs all down the left side. On the 18th, which plays 585 yards from the tips, it's down the entire right side of this dogleg right.

Practice facilities and lessons at TPC Louisiana

It should be no surprise that the range, practice greens, practice bunkers and chipping greens are in superb condition.

On the large practice tee you get a pyramid of high quality practice balls with perfect Bermuda turf conditions and plenty of visible targets. Lessons are also available, ranging from $30 for a half-hour with an assistant to $80 for a full hour with a PGA Professional. Playing and group lessons are also available.

In the golf shop, you'll find a good selection of apparel and equipment and logoed merchandise from the Zurich Classic.

TPC of Louisiana: The verdict

The TPC of Louisiana was one of many properties in the New Orleans area to suffer from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but it has rebounded nicely.

The golf course suffered widespread flooding and thousands of downed trees, forcing the property to close. The clubhouse also was renovated as the tournament returned to TPC Louisiana in April 2007 after being played at English Turn Golf & Country Club for a year.

Typical of Dye, this is a thinking-man's course, but that will do you little good if you can't control your ball with all the trouble out there. Come with a plan and good golf swing and you'll enjoy your time.

TPC is also well conditioned, as you might expect of a course that charges $110-plus. Some of the holes do look similar to one another, but there are plenty you won't soon forget.

The 478-yard sixth is one of them. It's a tough dogleg left around water that makes par a real feat. The 16th is a good, short par 4 playable many different ways, including hitting driver to get it on or in front of the green, with water and sand looming to catch errant shots.

Five different tee configurations accommodate various skill levels. Although even from 5,100 yards, the bunkers and water are still there.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


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The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.


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''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.


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The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.