Even though Thursday, December 1st was a cold and windy day I decided to get down to Atchafalaya at Idlewild to check things out. The last time I was down there they were close to finishing their bunker renovations. That project had been done for a while so it was time to get back.
An hour and a half from downtown New Orleans and a part of the Louisiana Golf Trails, Atchafalaya, in my opinion, has one of the best layouts in all of Louisiana. It is challenging, fun, fair, and beautiful. Just about every hole winds its way through trees and there are only about four holes on the entire golf course where you can see another hole so you will feel like you or your group are the only ones on the golf course. The golf course really makes you feel like a part of nature as it is part of the Kemper Williams Park it routes through for a few holes on the back nine. Which, by the way, if you are down in the area before Christmas the park has a Christmas Light display.
To start one of my favorite things at Atchafalaya are the camouflage golf carts. It is the only golf course I have seen have anything other than the standard golf carts. To be honest they could use an upgrade as the steering was a bit tricky with the cart I had and I saw quite a few that had a broken windshield or peeling. Also, I notice a few without the GPS unit in them. This may be either because they are just installing them or they are removing them from their entire fleet. I think this may be something new coming as I do not recall a GPS in the cart the last time I was there. However, these carts have plenty of space for a tour bag, have extra storage compartments above, and are very comfortable.
Once you arrive at the golf shop to check in you are greeted by one of the most genuinely friendly staff you will ever meet. The clubhouse itself, although doesn't seem like much from the front is a warm and welcoming atmosphere with a huge patio that overlooks the 9th and 18th greens. If you are there around lunchtime you may find more people dining than there are on the golf course. This is because the restaurant is one of the most popular in the area for golfers and non-golfers alike and is open til 9 pm Tuesday thru Saturday. You usually only find those types of crowds and hours at private clubs.
The golf course itself welcomes you with a large grass driving range, a chipping green with a bunker, and a large putting green. All of the practice facilities are well maintained and a great place to tune up your game or get a little practice in before you start your round of golf. I found that the practice facilities were also the exact conditions of what I played out on the golf course. Something that every golf course strives to achieve but many do not. This is also where I got the first notion the greens would be spongey and slow.
The golf course plays between 7,533 from the tips and 5,263 from the forward tees. There are also junior tees that play at 3,893. I picked the wrong day to play the tips as the cold air did not allow the ball to travel as far and there was very little roll in the fairways. However, there is a good balance between long and short holes so my approach shots on the par-4 holes ranged from 9-iron to 3-wood. This is a golf course where you could end up hitting every club in your bag during your round. This is due to the great design of the golf course. There is even a difference in the size of the greens based on the length of the holes. For example, the par-3 2nd and 7th holes are two of the largest and play as much as 247 and 244 yards on the scorecard.
The greens themselves looked beautiful. However, as I found out on the practice putting green they were spongy and slow. They still rolled pretty well but you really had to put a good strong stroke on the ball to get it to the hole. To put this in comparison a 5-foot putt would have to be hit like a 15 feet putt on a tour speed green. I understood this was due to the weather we recently had earlier in the week. Even though there was no visible moisture on the golf course the soil underneath still had a good bit of moisture in it. Since it had been cold the ground has not had a chance to firm up yet. By the time you read this, however, the greens will most likely be firmer and faster.
**Side note: holes 2 and 5 had damage to the greens and were just reopened from being temporary greens. They are growing in nicely but still had some rough areas. The staff at Atchafalaya did a wonderful job with the pin placement on these holes making sure it was in the best playable spot on the putting surface.**