By golly there great people and golf in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Sing, “Down on the bayou.” Defined by “slow moving water,” the Calcasieu River gently flows through marshlands of Lake Charles into the Gulf of Mexico creating the perfect environs for fishing and golf under the sun.
Bide your wintertime on the bayou with premium accommodations at L‘Auberge Casino Resort which sits on the river to facilitate legal gambling. The suites are spacious with “On the House” Wi-Fi, coffee, water and great views. Here you can be lazy or get crazy. The music piping throughout the halls 24 hours a day will make you want to dance and sing. The night stage provides Karaoke opportunity, DJs or live music at Jack After Dark. In contrast, the lush setting by the L’Auberge pools induces relaxation. Horticulture is artistically manicured with wooden bridges connecting the lazy river to the separate family and adult sections of pools and Jacuzzis. Water in each area is just the right temp. Inside L’Auberge, the Spa du Lac (by the lake) restores tranquility with treatments from skin and body care to all massage techniques.
The casino makes an impressive backdrop for the onsite Contraband Bayou Golf
Club. Initially designed by Tom Fazio, upgrades have been made by Bill Belcher, Director of Resort Services. There are plenty of photo ops along the course with eight lakes, loblolly pines, hardwood trees and crepe myrtle in bloom. Star of the pictures is Big Mama gator making appearances most days. Locals tout that gators are friendly on the bayou, yet they suggest keeping a distance by using the zoom lens. Herb Piert III, Golf Operations Supervisor, takes pride in the staff as well as the region’s cultural history. As a Creole family member, he loves Lake Charles for its authentic Louisianan food. Beignets with powdered sugar soak up coffee in the morning as they dust your shirt. Kolaches with beef, shrimp or crawfish are a tasty Creole version of a burrito or calzone.
Eat the shellfish or use them for bait. Contact Capt. Erik Rue of Calcasieu Charter Service for a great day on the water, fishing or bird hunting. Country music echoes
as the boat floats through the marsh. Reel in the redfish and halibut next to pelicans diving for their share. Our haul went to the Seafood Palace for preparation combined with sampling new fried foods we never tasted and can’t pronounce. Wash it down with sweet tea or Bayou Rum. Handcrafted using 100% natural Louisiana cane sugar & molasses, the local distillery presents a Caribbean flavor for tasting and tours.
Other courses of Lake Charles fit in flawlessly with the Cajun surroundings at reasonable rates. The National Golf Club of Louisiana in Westlake is a nice public track. Set among towering pines and contouring fairways, it is pretty straight forward, except for the hidden hazards. The layout is fun and playable yet challenging enough for the strongest golfers. En route, Po Boys from Darrell’s are the bomb for lunch with jalapeno mayo.
Gray Plantation Golf Club presents an astounding Audubon experience. It is wide open with risk/reward opportunities for those wanting to reach par 5’s in two. Multiple water features separate fairways from greens with all natural fowl
inhabiting. Mallard Cove Golf is proud of their municipal course and new clubhouse since Hurricane Rita wreaked havoc and in December, the Golden Nugget will open with an 18-hole course.
Back at L’Auberge, booths in Jack Daniel’s Bar & Grill are cropped pickup trucks for a casual sports scene while the Ember Grille and Wine Bar delivers an elegant experience. Lollipop lamb chops or tasty aji tuna are brilliantly presented appetizers. The feature entrée is the Tomahawk – a 40-ounce juicy slab of steak to feed the entire table. The Crème Brule surpassed our “oui, oiu, oui test” with tableside flaming, paired with a white chocolate martini hiding an Ember engraved candy at the bottom -truly unique.
After dinner or anytime, attendees welcome guests to the gaming room. Unlike the crazy noise of Vegas, music again sets the mood for playing slots, black jack or baccarat. If you’re not a gambler, watching from the central Golbar is just as entertaining. Boutiques and the enticing Desserts Shop round out the L‘Auberge Casino Resort. The pastry chef is unreal with creativity. Check out his chocolate mask sculpture.This spot falls under our category of rediscovering America through golf – an eye opener for anyone unfamiliar with the bayou experience. The airport is small and easy with accessible flights from most regions.
Eat, golf, fish, spa, repeat. Year round, there are no moody blues on the bayou. www.VisitLakeCharles.org