Finding Your Golfing Joy In Lake Charles, Louisiana
Long and widely recognized as “Louisiana’s Playground,” Lake Charles, located in the southwest part of the state, is a very special place and should be on every golfer’s radar.
It was so easy to get to. In my case, flying in through Houston, then a short flight to find some joy.
Lake Charles recently launched a new tourism campaign aptly named “As Much Joy As You Can Pack In,” and I could not be more in agreement.
I’d been there before for professional bass fishing while working for ESPN. My memories of fresh and delicious seafood, nightlife, and great outdoor activities like kayaking were as quickly refreshed as I was.
We stayed at L’Auberge Casino Resort, featuring a massive sportsbook and grill. My room was beautifully decorated, and while there, we took a short walk to The Contraband Bayou Golf Club, designed by Tom Fazio, which emphasizes the marsh and lowland features of a natural environment. It’s a 7,000-yard, par-71 championship golf layout with ample tee boxes for golfers of any skill.
The resort and golf club are a short walk to yet another, The Golden Nugget Casino, which features many shopping and dining options and a live poker room for those who enjoy some Texas Hold ‘Em.
The Country Club at Golden Nugget is a masterpiece by designer Todd Eckenrode. It, too is a 7,000-yard gem that is certain to please. My two takeaways are to stay out of the rough and then enjoy a chef-crafted meal in the elegant, full-service clubhouse.
Lake Charles is also known as “The Festival Capital of Louisiana” and hosts more than 75 of them annually. The most famous of which is the second-largest Mardi Gras in the state behind New Orleans.
The home city of the NFL’s Saints is known for incredible cuisine, just as in Lake Charles. Located within L’Auberge Resort are Drago’s Seafood Restaurant and Mexican restaurant Johnny Sánchez, which originated in the Big Easy by award-winning chef Aarón Sánchez.
At Drago’s, you can’t go wrong with the grilled oysters as an appetizer and the eggplant parmesan for your main course, or for that matter, any seafood specialty. The breakfast burrito at Johnny Sánchez is a winner as well if your evening plans are spoken for.
I was particularly inspired by the National Golf Club of Louisiana in nearby Westlake and how the terrific team of young golf professionals anticipated everything we might have wanted, including helping me adjust my grip on the range, which made for a better performance on the course. Make time for a lesson, and you won’t regret it.
“The Natty” was a fun and challenging layout, and I can’t wait to return. I highly recommend the hamburger sliders if you stay for happy hour at The Max. The Max is named in honor of a legendary local high school coach; the staff was as amazing as the cuisine. This was no typical 19th-hole menu as my playing partner for the day devoured every bite of The Surf N Turf – a burger that only Lake Charles could offer. It’s a three-blend beef patty layered with jalapeno mayonnaise, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, and blackened shrimp. It looked so good I named it as the “Big Max,” though I don’t see them changing it anytime soon.
Golf in Lake Charles, located halfway between Houston and Baton Rouge via Interstate 10, features indigenous plants, picturesque backdrops with birds and other wildlife, and beautiful scenery.
Even if you’ve been there before, you must make time to play Mallard Golf Club, a Scottish links-inspired design and the newest addition to the area. Legend has it that the head pro there carded a hole-in-one the day the course opened in 2021. I learned this when I shared news about my birdie on the same hole. Yet another reason to return.
At the risk of reading more like a food review, I highly recommend trying a couple of craft beers at Crying Eagle Brewing, and the crab cakes are a must at Pat’s of Henderson, both a short drive from the resort and well worth the effort.
Learn even more by checking out the Visit Lake Charles website.
Photos Courtesy of Visit Lake Charles