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CONDUCTING A COURSE RATING AT THE NEW SOUTH COURSE - BAYOU OAKS AT CITY PARK
Lafayette, LA February 24, 2017
A decade after the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, City Park in New Orleans will see the return of a championship level golf course to the property. The new South Course will open in late April at the recently renamed Bayou Oaks at City Park Complex. The par 72 Rees Jones design uses some of the large oak trees and ponds that shaped the original layout. The South Course project was spearheaded by the non-profit Bayou District Foundation, which has also completely transformed the old St. Bernard Housing Project into a thriving mixed income residential community. This development model closely mirrors the successful “East Lake model” in Atlanta, Georgia. Last week, prior to its opening, the Louisiana Golf Association (LGA) Course Rating team (south region) had the opportunity to rate the new course. This article will highligh first impressions of the South Course by our LGA volunteers and teh staff at Bayou Oaks at City Park.
City Park in New Orleans has been intertwined with golf since 1902, when the 9-hole New Orleans Golf Club opened. It was one of only 80 golf courses in the United States at that time. From those early beginnings over a century ago, the number of holes and courses expanded on the property. At one time, there were four distinct golf courses at City Park, the most distinct being the Championship layout, which hosted the PGA Tour's New Orleans Open (now Zurich Classic) from 1938-48 and 1958-62. Before Hurricane Katrina, the golf footprint in City Park consisted of four courses on more than 700 acres. When the redesigned renovation of the golf facilities is complete, City Park will have two public golf courses and a practice facility encompassing approximately 350 acres. Hundreds of live oaks, magnolias, natural bayous and regional flora and fauna are incorporated carefully into the golf course design maintaining the distinctive and historical environment of iconic City Park.
The South Course will be a par 72 layout with six distinct sets of tee markers allowing golfers of all skill levels to play from different yardages. Alex Abbruzza, Head Golf Professional at Bayou Oaks at City Park, said about his first impressions of walking the golf course,
“I have been impressed with how the course is built for players of all abilities. The multitude of tee box options creates a course that can hold championship golf, while allowing us to provide fun, accessible golf for everyone.”
Kyle Nagdeman, LGA Director of Member Services was part of the initial group with the LGA that came in mid-December to measure the South Course. After walking the golf course, Nagdeman said of the layout and the obstacles on the course,
“The front nine is shaped by the large natural trees that border some of the holes, but do not suffocate the landing zones for golfers. The back-nine’s character is defined by the par 5, 11th and par 4, 16th holes. Each of these holes are influenced by the large ponds that hug the left side and play into the ‘risk-reward’ mentality of some golfers.”
The course will provide scratch golfers a stern test from the Championship tees, while giving beginning golfers or high handicappers a short, easily manageable golf course.
Bayou Oaks at City Park – South Course Approximate Tee Yardages
Gold – 7,302 yards
Black – 7,013 yards
Blue – 6,642 yards
White – 6,111 yards
Green – 5,522 yards
Red – 5,011 yards
USGA Course and Slope Ratings for the South Course will be made public upon its opening.
Preparation for rating a new golf course is critical. In the summer of 2016, Brian Long, General Manager of Bayou Oaks at City Park, contacted the LGA to discuss beginning the process of getting the South Course measured and rated prior to its 2017 opening. As mentioned above, the LGA measured the golf course in Mid-December using their GPS transponder unit. A course measurement is an extensive process of marking every tee marker, turning point, and green depth of each hole. Measurements are collected from the middle of the appropriate teeing grounds. Once the LGA collected the information, it was disseminated by equipment specific PC software that produced individual hole yardages and total yardages for each tee set. This information set the stage for the volunteer course rating team to return for the course and slope rating process on Wednesday, February 15th.
Prior to the rate, Nagdeman sent a reminder e-mail to his rating team that included a strategy for three 'mini' rating teams to rate a set of six (6) holes a piece. He also prepared USGA Form 1 documents prior to the rate for each ‘mini’ team to use in recording their measurements. Each tee on the South Course was rated for both the scratch and bogey golfers. The different measurements and analysis that the team factors in during course ratings are fairway width, green target dimensions, rough height and recoverability, bunker depths, proximity of bunkers near the green, and the role trees have in each hole. The course rating team also measures the distances of water hazards and out of bounds from the center of each landing zone. All of this information plays a role in the final course rating.
On the day of the rate, the team assembled in the North Course Clubhouse, received their Form 1s, and split off to begin rating. The normal duration of a USGA Course Rating is about four hours for an 18-hole facility, but due to the number of tees and varying landing zones, the Bayou Oaks at City Park-South Course took even longer. Once the ‘mini’ rating teams returned to the clubhouse, they used the measurement information and the USGA Course Rating guide to assign a number to each Obstacle Stroke Value section on the Form 1. Those forms were submitted to Nagdeman who then entered the information into the USGA Course Rating software. This is a process that once took days to calculate the USGA Course Rating based on the provided formulas, but it has become a seamless process because course and slope rating calculation is done automatically now. It took several hours to input data for every set of tees on the South Course. The USGA Course and Slope Rating numbers, once finalized, were sent to the facility personnel at Bayou Oaks for use on their course scorecards. Also, the handicap tables were printed for golfers' use and distributed to the facility. The South Course at Bayou Oaks at City Park will be re-rated again in five years and every ten years after that, per USGA and LGA policy.
The Louisiana Golf Association would like to thank its course rating volunteers who gave their time to be a part of the South Course rating. These individuals volunteer for the LGA and travel across South Louisiana several times each year to help the LGA rate golf courses. There is an identical group of volunteers who aid in the same process for courses in the northern half of the state. If you have any desire in learning more about USGA Course Rating and/or becoming an LGA Course Rating volunteer, please visit LGAGOLF.ORG/VOLUNTEER.
The LGA looks forward to the grand opening of the South Course in late April and is thankful for the Bayou District Foundation / Bayou Oaks at City Park’s desire to give back to the game and willingness to host this year’s LGA Mid-Amateur on the South Course, August 4th-6th. The South Course will also host the 2018 LGA Net Amateur, 2019 LGA Junior Amateur and U.S. Amateur Qualifier, and 101st LGA Amateur Championship in 2020.