Prison View Golf Course

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The movie Dead Man Walking was filmed at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. When our crew arrived at the prison, we found – in this case – that truth was much more interesting that fiction.

The first thing you see driving onto the prison grounds is the death row complex. Only the most hardened criminals in the state of Louisiana arrive at the massive Angola prison (it is nearly the size of Manhattan). In the past, it was the most violent prison in the country. Inmates would sleep with phone books on their chests to stay alive over night. But through the efforts of Warden Burl Cain, Angola now has become a better place to be.

Hey, it’s still prison, but inmates who want to better themselves now have outlets. During our visit, we toured the cell blocks and walked among the inmates without any body guards. As the warden references in the show, most inmates will only leave his care when they die. But even for those inmates, the sprawling grounds of Angola can offer a bit of hope.

That is where the Prison View Golf Course comes in. The trustees (inmates who have established a pattern of good behavior) who are chosen can work on the golf course, learning agriculture and working in the great outdoors. It is a far cry from life in a cell block. And the guards can enjoy the game they love without traveling more than an hour to the nearest golf course.

The public can play the course, as well. But, you can't call today and play tomorrow. Allow 48 hours for your criminal background check to come back clean. No felons allowed! As one inmate told us, the prisoners want to see more outside play. It makes them feel like they have a true purpose, to bring some joy to local golfers. This sentiment comes from people who have brought great pain to their victims.

Who says golf can’t change lives?

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