City Park is set to begin construction of a new championship-level golf course, nearly a decade after much of the 1,300-acre park was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
The $13 million, 18-hole course will be modernized with both beautiful and challenging shapes, incorporating many of the lagoons and oak trees from the former East and West courses while erasing their former flatness.
Yet to be named, the par-72 layout has been designed by nationally renowned golf course architect Rees Jones, as well as Torre Design Consortium, of New Orleans.
It ranges from 5,100 to 7,250 yards and is bordered by Filmore Avenue, Harrison Avenue, Marconi Drive and Wisner Boulevard.
“This has been a really long process to get to this point,” said Bob Becker, CEO of City Park, at a news conference Thursday. “But after the hurricane, our board decided we were going to take the time necessary to build this park back better than it was before. Not just to repair damage, but to build it back in a first-class manner, and in doing that, sometimes it takes a little longer than you’d expect.”
Organizers believe the new course, which is set to be completed in February 2017, will rival Avondale’s TPC Louisiana, which Golf.com ranks as the best public course in the Greater New Orleans area. The website also ranks TPC second only to The Bluffs, in St. Francisville, on the state’s list of public courses.
Thanks to existing trees and shrubs, “We’re getting a great price,” said Azeo “Ace” Torre, president and principal of Torre Design Consortium, a local architecture firm that has designed 44 zoos and aquariums in the United States as well as similar projects in China and Canada.
The project is being counted on to mark a revitalization of golf at City Park, which has had at least one course since 1902.
City Park Board President Susan Hess remembers when her son, Joshua, then 10, used the park’s golf courses to learn the sport. During the next four years, he took lessons from a local golf pro. “It made such a difference in his life,” Hess said.
In 2008, the North Golf Course reopened after Katrina, offering rounds for golfers with beginner to novice skills. The new course, though, is expected to offer more twists and turns.
“It looks very interesting, going through the park and across the waterways,” said Greg Clemons, general manager of the North Course.
“It’s almost like it’s on separate islands. A lot of courses are landlocked, and you can tell which way they’re going, one way or another. This one kinda goes in and out because it’s two courses rolled into one. I think it’ll give the average and fair golfer a run for their money.”
Pre-Katrina, the park, which also houses two stadiums and other venues for organized and recreational sports enthusiasts, hosted approximately 11 million annual visitors. City Park is one of the 10 largest urban parks in the nation.