There are golf trips in America -- think Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, Scottsdale -- where the golf may be sublime or at least wildly plentiful, but once you're done hacking there's very little authentic local culture that is special enough to merit a cross-country trip. And then there is quite the opposite, a place where the golf is pleasant but not transcendent, yet everything off the course is so tantalizing that the thought of 36 holes a day seems, well, misguided.
Exhibit A, your honor: New Orleans.
Exhibit B: The rest of Louisiana.
Now, before my Cajun golf friends de-Rolodex me, hear me out. Louisiana does have the Audubon Golf Trail, a collection of a dozen fine courses spread from the glorious Atchafalaya Basin, down south near the mouth of the Mississippi, to the lovely oaken hills near Shreveport up north. They are all enjoyable, and on the wetlands courses you might even lose a leg to the Alligator mississippiensis, but to say they are "world-class," as the state's tourism website boasts, is a stretch worthy of Nadia Comaneci. (PR people, if none of your state's courses is listed among Golf Digest's or Golfweek's top 100, you might hunt for another adjective.)
What Louisiana boosters should say is that its golf buffet is far more diverse and challenging than it was just a decade ago, and that it has such exceptional food, music, festivals and genuine America that it always qualifies as a great destination. Golf is just your excuse. So, with those caveats, I offer up a somewhat unorthodox golf trip that is more about jazz, zydeco and Acadiana than suburban fairways.
If you're flying in, almost certainly you'll be coming to New Orleans first, but my son and I wanted to drive in (from Austin, about seven hours west), so we could hit one of the Cajun music world's iconic monuments, in the town of Eunice, St. Landry Parish, in the heart of Acadiana. There, on highway 190 just east of town, every Saturday morning from nine to noon, you'll see cars parked bumper-to-bumper on the side of the road in that familiar random rural mashup that suggests a funeral or Jesus-in-the-tortilla sighting.Full Story >>