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Golf Course Review: Belle Terre Country Club

The last time I was at Belle Terre things were not that good. I found out after that the golf courses had reopened three months earlier than expected. That essentially meant it was not ready for play at the time and not ready for a Golf Nola review. This time, Wednesday 4/1724, was a different experience.

I purposely picked this week to review Belle Terre Country Club as the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, held at TPC Louisiana, starts next week. Belle Terre Country Club and TPC Louisiana are the only two golf courses in all of Louisiana designed by legendary golf course architect Pete Dye. With that in mind, I also did the review video (below) differently. I highlighted my favorite two holes on the golf course in the manner of "play along with me" where you can see how I played those holes.

The last time I was at Belle Terre was late June of last year shortly after they reopened from being closed for renovations. I didn't know what to expect since I had not heard much from anyone about the golf course over the last couple of months. Normally I will hear some type of word of mouth before heading out to review a golf course but this time was different. Add in the weird weather and the winter we had, I honestly was showing up with low expectations.

When arriving at the property I was surprised that on a Wednesday afternoon, there were not many cars in the parking lot. More than were there when I left at 5:30PM (pic below) but so few it almost gave the appearance the golf course was closed. Which is a feeling I got while playing all afternoon. It felt as if people are still not aware that Belle Terre reopened almost 10 months ago. I only saw a total of three golfers while I was there. Two were finishing and one single let play through. Even when checking into the pro shop the entire clubhouse looked closed. I couldn't tell if any lights were on or if the bar was open. I knew there would be no beverage cart, but luckily they sell drinks right there in the golf shop. Which, by the way, has a wonderful, friendly staff.

As for the golf course itself, everything looked great when heading towards the practice putting and chipping greens. The practice putting green is your first true gauge of what to expect on the golf course. You could quickly tell they were trying to let the grass grow in and let the root system thicken up which I would assume is a result of the weird winter of colder-than-normal temperatures along with not enough warm weather and rain. The new greens are a saltwater tolerant Paspalum grass that probably never fully took given the dry weather we had last fall and winter. Although the Paspalum does not need as much water as a Bermuda grass it still needs plenty of water and warm temperatures to fully take root.

Overall Course Conditions - 3.5 out of 5

Tee Boxes: 4 out of 5

The grass was full on the vast majority of tee boxes which was nice to see compared to my last visit. On all but one par 3 the grass was good enough you didn't need to use a tee. You could drop the ball down and it would be like sitting on a well-manicured fairway. They were also cut at a very good height. Not too tight like a green, but tight enough there was no blades of grass to get between the ball and the club. My only complaint is that many of the tee boxes were not level. Some had a severe crown on them, especially the par three 13th hole where the ball would be a good six inches above or below your feet depending on which side of the tee box you played from.

Fairways: 4 out of 5

The fairways were like the tee boxes. The grass was full, with very few bare spots on any of them. The ball would sit up nicely and the cut height was almost perfect. They were not what you would consider tight like what the Pro Tours play but they were not much higher either. They were tight enough to help create more spin but not so tight you had to hit every shot perfectly. The fairways were firm and fast but the grass was full enough they were not playing too fast where a good shot could end up through a fairway and in trouble. The only thing the fairways need is some smoothing out. The smoothness is not a playability issue but when riding in a golf cart it is quite bumpy in many areas.

Greens: 3 out of 5

The greens are tricky to rate. They look better than the last time I was there while at the same time playing worse. With that said, I know they are letting the greens grow in more and were not cut that morning. This made them play slow and bumpy. Last time they played fast as a result of hardly any grass had grown in. I was also told that they did do an aerification in the last 10-12 days and the top dressing got washed off in the heavy rain we had last week. Which explains why they were bumpy. The top dressing helps maintain the smoothness as the grass heals from the aerification. The greens right now need some rain and warm temps to grow in more. Once that happens they can get back to cutting, rolling, and maintaining the speed of the greens on a daily basis. I give it about 2-3 weeks and the greens will be really good. They are in good hands with Teche Turf LLC Consulting.

The other areas of the golf course were also good. The Rough was thick enough to make you think but not so thick you couldn't find your golf ball. This included a consistent amount of rough around the greens. The grass was full and for the most part, all cut to a consistent height. The fringes around the majority of the golf course were also good enough that you could putt from off the green. The bunkering was decent and very playable. I actually show two bunker shots in the video. The only disappointments with the bunkers were that not one of them had a single rake and a few had a drainage pipe sticking out of the center of a few bunkers.

All in all the golf course had me really impressed with the progress. There is still some work to be done but Belle Terre could soon be back to the championship golf course we all remember, want, and expect. If the owners have the money and are willing to make more improvements, like leveling tee boxes, smoothing fairways, and new irrigation, Belle Terre could get back to one of the premier golf courses in the greater New Orleans area. Even some clubhouse improvements like adding a locker room, so tourists could play and then shower before heading to the airport, or updating the grill with consistent hours could get the club back to being a place golfers want to join and hang out at all day. They could also use more advertising or social media engagement about the golf course. Like I said earlier I think many golfers still think the golf course is closed. Only time will tell what we will see from Belle Terre, but for now, it is good to see the golf course heading in the right direction.

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Good timing for this review. My club, Finn McCool's, is supposed to play there tomorrow. I haven't been out there in about 3 years. It's a hike from the westbank to get there. Conditions were so bad the last time I went there, we got a rain check. Made it to the 4th tee and went in. It hadn't rained in a few days, but the course was rough and uncut, and the greens were almost unplayable. Hope it's better tomorrow - if the rain doesn't get us.

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Follow up... we played Belle Terre Sunday morning in a gale. Wind was tough, blowing in out of the north. We found the greens to be very tough. Just as you said, bumpy and in need of a good rolling and cutting. Pretty slow. The greens on the front were better than the ones on the back. If I'm not mistaken the ones on the front were replaced some years back. But the course overall is in pretty decent shape. Need to fix the tee boxes big time. Other than that, no major complaints but for the greens.

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