Earlier this year I completed an insurance designation that I had been working on since late 2010. The program consisted of eight courses with each requiring about 100 hours of study (for me) and then passing a standardized test. In June I ended up passing the last course and this meant that I was headed to New Orleans for the conferment ceremony. I took a couple extra days off and it turned out to be a good length vacation. I was able to squeeze in a couple rounds of golf between some of the insurance classes and festivities before heading over to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to play some of the courses there. There isn’t enough time in the day to post the course reviews in “real time” on a trip like this as it takes me about 45 minutes to an hour to type it up, proof read it, sort through my pictures, and then upload them. So, I wrote down my thoughts on the scorecard while playing and will try to get the reviews posted by the end of the week.
Friday was a travel day before the weekend would be filled with various activities for the conference so I opted for an early flight into New Orleans so that I could play a round of golf in my 48th state as soon as possible on the trip. My flight left Charlottesville at 6:00am and it went up to New York City before the second leg of the journey to New Orleans. I have only been to New York City once before and that was only for an evening so I didn’t get to see much. From the air I was able to see the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline so it turned out to be a memorable flight. The flight got into New Orleans around 10:30am local time and I got the car and had some lunch. There were a few courses near New Orleans that I had my list to try to get to while in town and Carter Plantation was one of them. Because the course is an hour away from New Orleans I figured that Friday would be the best day to get over there as I would need stay close to town the other days. I called the course and was told to come on out as it shouldn’t be a problem to get out. I got there a little after 1pm to take advantage of the $49 twilight rate and was concerned to see that there were at least a dozen carts parked at the range where golfers were practicing. The proshop said that one tournament had just finished and a smaller one was set to go off later but they said I could join a twosome and head out right away. My clubs were still in the travel bag and come to find out TSA had put every club in a different slot after searching my bag. Needless to say, it took me a few holes to settle into the round. It was a gorgeous day for golf as there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and not a breath of wind.
PGA Tour member David Toms, a Louisiana native, is the designer of Carter Plantation which is ranked as one of the top public golf courses in the state. When I think of David Toms I think of a great iron player as evidenced by his confidence to lay up on the 72nd hole of the 2001 PGA Championship which led to his win. As the round went along I noticed that a good iron player would excel here as the course requires some pinpoint irons shots to score. The course is a community course that works its way through pine trees and moss covered oaks with homes noticeable on a few holes, but its a well done community course. Many community courses have homes stacked on each side of the fairway and don’t allow for a golfer to enjoy the natural area but that isn’t the case here. The course is fairly open off the tee which was nice as it gave me a chance to find my swing without losing a bunch of golf balls. Even though the course doesn’t have many hazards or natural areas in play off the tee straight drives are still going to be rewarded more than crooked ones because of all the fairway bunkers. I found the fairway bunkers to be deep and it caused me some angst when I had to play from them. On a couple tee shots I had to be careful to avoid a big bounce out of play as the course was playing firm, but the main challenges came on the approaches and around the greens. The greens were firm so it was tough to gauge the first bounce to get it close and the green complexes were pretty diverse. Some greens were elevated, some small with a tough angle to the hole, some large with different tiers, and other greens were well bunkered. In every way the course demanded a good iron shot to get it close and some thought for the best miss around the greens. I played the Gold tees at 6548/71.5/129 and the front nine is the shorter nine. The course has some short par 4’s which allow for different strategies and can result in some birdies. The 1st is a 327 yard par 4 with a narrow green that sets the tone for good distance control and accuracy with the irons for the rest of the day. The 3rd is a pretty par 3 that plays from a chute of trees to a large elevated green. The 4th is a 473 yard par 5 which offers even the shorter hitters a chance to go for the water guarded green after a good tee shot. The 5th is another pretty par 3 that plays over a water hazard, but it should only be in play a very poorly struck shot. However, there is a chipping area right of the green which could cause for some odd short game shots. I think the 8th and 9th are toughest holes on the course because accuracy is needed off the tee. The 8th is a 412 yard par 4 that doglegs right. The tee shot is played to a corner and then the 2nd plays over water to the green. I was out of position off the tee and had to pitch out short of the hazard. The 9th is a 377 yard par 4 with trouble down each side and then a water hazard left of the green. The back plays 3431 yards so it has some more lengthy holes including the 13th which is a 592 yard par 5. It is pretty straight away but the fairway bunkers are there to catch tee shots and lay up shots. The 14th, a 305 yard par 4, is one of the best holes on the course as someone can lay it up or try to get it close to the green between all the bunkers. The green is raised with a false front so the spin on the approach has to be controlled to keep it on the green. The 15th is another long par 5 that is 560 yards and the 16th is a 446 yard par 4 with a tree that can affect the second shot. The 17th is another nice par 3 that has a large green that is framed with water left. The closing hole has a deep green that is divided in the center by a ridge.
There isn’t much to say about the conditions besides everything about the course was in great shape. I always had a perfect lie in the fairway and the greens were smooth and very fast. All the tees were in nice shape except for the 3rd tee which did not have much grass. That tee is in the shadows so that may explain its condition compared to the other tees. There is no doubt that this course is worth the hour drive from New Orleans and worth a stop from Interstate 12 if someone has some extra time and the clubs on a road trip.