Travel – Lake Charles
After a brief ascent and descent, we landed in Lake Charles Regional Airport from DFW Airport. Our stay was at the well-appointed L’Auberge Casino and Resort. Here there was a plethora of things to see, eat, entertain and provide relaxation. Our suite was spacious with amenities that included a large private entrance area. Every touch was above and beyond.
This included the Tom Fazio par-71 lowland marsh golf course. We dined at the Jack Daniel’s Bar and Grill on the property. There are 25 beers on tap and the food by Chef Lyle Broussard was inventive. A most outstanding dish was the plump, fresh shrimp, Creole style, followed by savory bread pudding. On the grounds are the Contraband Bayou Golf Course, which was designed by Fazio, the only public course he designed in Louisiana. Course yardages vary from 6015-7100 yards for men and up to 5100 from the ladies tees. This is an entertaining course to play that includes doglegs and challenging par 3s. It is an admirably conditioned layout, with panoramic views of this resort and the Gold Nugget, and impeccable grounds.
Next, we teed it up at Gray Plantation, a semi-private course that is part of the Audubon Golf Trail. Sixty acres of lakes come into play with 94 bunkers and towering pine trees at every turn. This is a well-formulated course with spectacular views of the flora and fauna of the Calcasieu River. Head professional Jonathan Jester and his well-trained staff are accommodating and knowledgeable. This facility includes a state-of-the-art teaching facility, club repair and personalized club fitting. I would highly recommend, “Playing the Gray.”
For our entertainment and a few cocktails, we toured the Bayou Rum Distillery. The rum is produced by sugarcane, from the oldest family-run sugar mill in the United States. The air is perfumed with the sweet bouquet of thick molasses. After an informative tour, partaking of samples were the highlight. The spiced rum and Gator Bite coffee-infused rum were our favorites. Onward to 121 Artisan Bistro for a flatbread from a brick oven, that was definitely worth the scorched top of our mouths. Meatballs, pizza and lasagna were all delectable. After returning to the L’Auberge, the evening was capped off with time at the blackjack tables and winning a few slots.
Our group played The National Golf Club of Louisiana the next morning, bright and early to avoid the unseasonal heat. A splendid, brand-new clubhouse is underway. Five sets of tees allow enjoyment for every skill level of golfer. It was named the most affordable Public Golf Course in the area in 2020. Playing this well-thought-out loop includes a multitude of water hazards. Gators graced the banks, and if you hit a ball into the murky water, it becomes theirs.
A not-to-be missed lunch was a famous Darrell’s po’boy with turkey, ham and roast beef, drenched with roast gravy and melting with three cheeses. The afternoon included a tour of the Crying Eagle Brewing Company. A comfortable taproom and tour of the facilities definitely was needed after 18 holes. It is named after the Parish, Calcasieu, which is a translation of the Atakapa Indian word that translates to Battle Cry. Crying Eagle collaborated with the rock band Foreigner during a tour that brought them through the area. A quite tasty, dry-hopped IPA was born called, “Hop Blooded.” Dinner was a feast at Restaurant Calla, a small neighborhood restaurant that is creative, ever-changing and has sustainable cuisine, along with expertly crafted drinks. The blue crab beignets, wine selection and exceptional imaginative gin and tonic were standouts.
The Country Club at Golden Nugget proved to be an awe-inspiring 18 holes. Great panoramic views of the aqueous landscape and copious MiniVerde greens make this a must play. This course opened in 2015 and was named in the Top 10 New Courses by Golf Digest. With open fairways and challenging holes, the course was selected as the site of the newest event on the Korn Ferry Tour, the Lake Charles Championship. The tournament, however, is postponed to 2022, due to damages suffered along the Louisiana coast by Hurricanes Laura and Delta.
After playing, we stayed to dine at the plush Chart House. The table was elegantly set in a private room that overlooked the course. Our entrees, Moroccan Sea Bass and the Peach-Bourbon Glazed Scallops and Shrimp, are highly recommended. With the speculation of beating the odds, we played at the tables at the Casino. But after realizing we were not on the verge of winning, we departed.
To interest the non-golfers, there are the Mardi Gras Museum, a lazy river and pool, of course gambling, shopping and a Gelato bar that drew us back in the evenings. From Houston, it’s a two-hour drive to relaxation, exhilaration and a golf paradise. Go and drink in all that Lake Charles has to offer, metaphorically and figuratively.