Trip Dispatch: Lake Charles, Louisiana an indulgent golf and gaming destination

By Brandon TuckerNovember 20, 2013, 4:03 pm

LAKE CHARLES, La. -- Let's get one thing straight: I would never dissuade anyone from indulging in a beignet, or maybe two, first thing in the morning.

These sugary, powered, soft donuts -- which are a specialty down on the Bayou -- are simply too appetizing to walk by when you see a tray full of them. Rather, I would merely suggest it be a piece (or two) of a balanced, nutritious breakfast, including a banana or a piece of toast to help ensure the sugar spike doesn't hit you by the third hole.

It's pretty tough to not dive head first into the culinary scene when spending a long weekend in Lake Charles, in western Louisiana, which makes appetizing the adjective of the day when describing a trip down here. It seems the Cajun locals never caught something in the water they couldn't fit into a deep fryer. Should you catch something yourself out on the waters, such as a prized redfish, you can find a local seafood joint like the local institution Seafood Palace to bake it up for you.


The many water hazards around Lake Charles are staked with redfish. 

Lake Charles has become a convenient playground of fishing and gaming, in particular, for the nearby Houston market. The main stay-and-play option is the L'Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles, a 1,000-room casino and resort set along Contraband Bayou.

L'Auberge (which has a sister property in Baton Rouge) does far more than satisfy a basic gaming itch of residents whose state doesn't allow it. Guest rooms and common areas are stylish and modern, and Spa du Lac (set to be upgraded soon) oozes opulence. Outside, the outdoor pool area is a lush oasis with a lazy river, fire pits and adult's only pool. The summer months bring a nightly concert series to go with a common four-straight months of full occupancy.

For gaming, the casino floor, home to 1,600 slots and 70 table games, sits on a barge in the center of the hotel, but you'd never know you were on water as state laws mandate. It's a full-on, Vegas-style gaming experience including a live poker room, roulette and craps and an assortment of card games to go with complimentary drinks for players and a separate VIP lounge.

The signature restaurant at L'Auberge is Ember, which specializes in steaks (including a mighty "Tomohawk" cut, a 40 oz. ribeye for $99 that is cut table side and could probably be shared by a table of four). Or go more casual at Jack Daniel's Whiskey Grill, which turns into a lively bar late-night.

Where to golf in Lake Charles


Tom Fazio's Contraband Bayou winds around L'Auberge Resort in Lake Charles. 

The golfing menu in Lake Charles begins at Contraband Bayou, the onsite championship course of L'Auberge, and was designed by Tom Fazio. Fazio is no stranger to high-end casino plays and its unique clientele of high-roller comps (including Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, Edgewood Tahoe in Lake Tahoe, Fallen Oak in Biloxi).

His layout here, which opened in 2004, has not only the gorgeous stylings of Fazio's signature bunkering, fairway contouring and greens, but in recent years, the golf operation has added other high-roller trimmings: new cart paths, touch-screen GPS and iced apples sitting in a barrel at the 10th tee box. Wooden bridges cross over small ponds littered throughout the property, and the course converted to Ultradwarf bermuda grass greens in 2010.

A worthy compliment to Contraband Bayou can be found downstream along the Calcasieu River at Gray Plantation. An upscale, semi-private facility, the course was in the Top 100 for, and is an original member of, the Audubon Golf Trail. Several holes play along the river, most notably the watery, short, par-3 sixth, whose tee and green is connected by a long, wooden bridge. With two drivable par 4s on the back nine, along with some reachable par 5s and short par 3s, the layout, while a stern 140 slope from the back tees, presents ample opportunities to catch a hot streak.

Also playing


National Golf Club of Louisiana is one of two standout munis around Lake Charles. 

There aren't enough golf courses in the Lake Charles area to call it a true "golf mecca," but there are a couple municipal courses worth a round if you want to expand your golf options beyond Contraband Bayou and Gray Plantation.

In Westlake, The National Golf Club of Louisiana is the area's newest course (until the Golden Nugget's course opens). The course is the centerpiece of a new 600-acre residential community (though few houses are visible from the course at this point). Challenge-wise, it holds its own with Contraband Bayou and Gray Plantation at more than 7,000 yards and interspersed with 14 water hazards (and could probably match the other courses's gator presence, too).

A more traditional layout can be found at Mallard Cove, located by the Chennault International Air Park, a former military base. The federal government gave the land to the city of Lake Charles to use for recreation, and it's become a local favorite but with enough interesting (albeit narrow) holes to make it a worthy option for the visitor. The large clubhouse -- rebuilt in 200, following Hurricane Rita's destruction -- certainly doesn't feel "muni."

A new course is also on the way. Just a chip shot away, a new casino property is being erected, the Golden Nugget, complete with a new 18-hole golf course designed by Todd Eckenrode (who has a casino course near San Diego at Barona Creek). The property is on schedule to open in mid-to-late 2014.

View more tee times in Louisiana and Lake Charles

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm