I had an insurance class in the morning, but wanted to get away for an afternoon round. I ended up reserving a twilight time at 1:52pm for $59. It gets dark around 6:30pm so I thought that might be cutting it close to play all the holes, but it would be my only chance to take advantage of the lower afternoon rates. My Tuesday afternoon was booked and then I headed over to the Biloxi area on Wednesday. The morning rate is $149 which is more than I think a round of golf is worth, even at a nice course. TPC Louisiana is the course where the PGA Tour plays the Zurich Classic each year and is a Pete Dye design. The course is a newer design as it opened in 2004 and always is ranked as one of the top public golf courses in Louisiana. I have only played a couple of courses where the PGA Tour plays so I was interested to see how it played.
It took us about 20 minutes to get to the course from downtown where we are staying. As I was walking into the proshop to check in I noticed that the putting green and the 9th green were sanded. Off in the distance it looked like the 18th green was sanded too. I had called last week to find out when the course most recently aerated was advised they aerated in August. I asked a couple questions in the proshop before paying and they explained that all the greens were sanded, but not aerated. I was told that the greens, even with the sand, were rolling well. About 10 days ago I played a course that had sanded the greens and the ball bumped all over the place. The service here was outstanding as they told me I could go play three or four holes and if unsatisfied, they would refund my money. The course provides range balls and let me off about 45 minutes early. Plus, they didn’t charge anything extra to let my dad ride around in the cart as a spectator. Based on all this, and the fact that I was already at the course, I decided to go play even with the sanded greens.
The course is in a mostly cleared out section of land south of the Mississippi River with many of the holes being divided by domestic vegetation. This allowed for some views of and easy access to the adjacent holes. This makes sense because spectators and the media need to be able to get around the course easily to follow different groups of players. It wouldn’t make much sense to have a host course be spread out with tough walks from one hole to another. Plus, I bet the pros prefer a more open course. As I mentioned this is a Pete Dye design, and for the most part I have not enjoyed his courses as many are just too tough. After playing here I would say that this is a toned down version of Dye’s normal trickery and it rewards good shots with plenty of room to miss. I guess he knew that if he wanted the PGA Tour to keep coming back that he couldn’t make it overly difficult (ie: PGA West Stadium Course in Palm Springs, CA). There were some normal Dye touches including mounding in the fairways and around the greens, railroad ties, pot bunkers, and chipping areas which added some intrigue. I found that many of the holes had wide fairways and the greens were guarded with chipping areas instead of deep bunkers or water. This meant that a ball hitting the edge of the green would spin off into a low area leaving a difficult chip from a tight lie. I played the bump and run into the hills around the greens more than I normally would because a wedge would have to be clipped perfectly. So while an average iron will not find the green it will not result in a lost ball every hole which is nice. The course is well bunkered off the tee and around the green but unless someone gets in a little pot bunker the bunkers were easy to play from. Some of the waste bunkers were long and had no lip. I played the Dye tees at 6931/73.8/136 and found that the course gave me a chance to put up a good score even with the higher rating and slope. There are a few holes that can ruin the round, but each had an area to miss. The course mixed up the yardage on the holes from the Dye tees as there are some short and long par 4’s.
The course starts with a short par 4 that is a relaxed opening hole. It was a layup off the tee for me and a short iron to ease into my round. The 2nd is a 527 yard par 5 with mounding around the green being the notable feature on the hole. The 4th is a 465 yard par 4 that angles from left to the right off the tee with bunkers down the left and right. I hit a decent tee shot and still had a long approach to a green with more sand in play. The 6th is a 454 yard par 4 that played into the breeze and had water down the left. A tee shot challenging the water would result in a shorter approach while something down the right could add two or three clubs into the green. The 8th is a 336 yard par 4 with a tree just off the tee and many pot bunkers coming into play. It is a true position hole. I recognized the 9th, a 195 yard par 3, from watching the PGA Tour event on television. The 9th plays at an angle over water to a green framed with railroad ties and water to the left. I missed right and had a tough chip into the mounding with water lurking on the other side. The back adds a few more tricky shots starting on the 11th. The 11th is a 546 yard par 5 with a tree in the fairway that affects lay up shots. The tree is maybe 100 to 120 yards from the green and forced me to play to a yardage that I didn’t want just to avoid having to play around the tree. The 12th is a 470 yard par 4 that played into the wind and was a tough hole due to its length. The 13th is a 351 yard par 4 with another tree that affected play. I should have paid more attention to the Skycaddie as I laid up and had no line to the flag from the dead center of the fairway because of the tree. The 16th is another position hole and is only a 340 yard par 4. The approach has to avoid water left and a green that feeds into the rough on the right. The 17th, a 172 yard par 3, is similar to the 9th as it has railroad ties and water left and a chipping area right. The course closes with a 565 yard par 5 with water down the right but plenty of room left. There is a cross bunker affecting the lay up which adds some interest.
The condition of the course, besides the greens, was very nice. The fairways were in good shape and I always had a perfect lie for my approaches from the short grass. The tees were in nice shape too and not too firm and not too soft. The rough was cut short and was easy to play from. Although the greens looked ugly because of the sand, they rolled very well and had some speed. I only had one putt bounce offline and I think it may have been due to a grain of sand on the putter face when it struck the ball. I made a few longer putts and my speed was good all day so the sand was mostly an eyesore. I really enjoyed the course and it goes as one of the few Pete Dye courses that I liked playing as it was engaging and fair. I got around in three and a half hours with plenty of daylight to spare. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the course to someone in town looking for a nice place to play and am looking forward to watching some of the Zurich Classic next year.
#1 green looking back:
#18 from the fairway: