The project includes renovating all of the tees, fairways and greens. “It’s a complete redo … we’re doing everything,” says Gordon Digby, General Manager and Chief Operating Officer. Much of the late spring and early summer will be devoted to growing the grass on the 96-year-old course after it has been seeded and sodded and sprigs have been planted.
Metairie (La.) Country Club has begun a complete renovation of its 18-hole golf course, replacing the greens, fairways and bunkers in an effort to return the course to something closer to what it was when it opened in 1925, The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. The club is private and its management is tight-lipped on member details and costs, but the renovation has sparked curiosity among some of those who drive past it each day.
“It’s a complete redo … we’re doing everything,” Gordon Digby, General Manager and Chief Operating Officer of Metairie Country Club, told The Times-Picayune. The project includes redoing all the tees, fairways and greens, leaving the Metairie landmark right now a muddy brown track while the project progresses.
Earth movers and other heavy equipment began working the site over earlier this year, and Digby said that much of the late spring and early summer will be devoted to growing the grass on the course after it has been seeded, sodded and sprigs have been planted, The Times-Picayune reported. The goal of the project, which is helmed by Massachusetts-based golf architect Brian Silva, is to bring the course back to what original designer Seth Raynor envisioned. Silva, an expert on Raynor’s designs, plans to try to recapture the course’s early 20th century charm, Digby said.
Raynor, a prolific course designer in the early part of the 20th century, was famous for using certain features and basing holes off of what he had seen in Europe’s finest courses, The Times-Picayune reported. One common Raynor feature is known as a Biarritz hole, which is characterized by long greens with a swale in the middle.
“We are putting all the Raynor template greens in,” Digby said.
There will be some concessions to modern golf: the course is going to grow by about 140 yards, Digby said, to about 6,725 yards from the back tees. He told The Times-Picayune the course likely couldn’t grow any longer because it’s constricted to 112 acres, bounded by the highway, neighborhoods and a playground.
Even though he designed the course, Raynor is only known to have visited the club once before he died in 1926, Digby told The Times-Picayune. Most of the oversight of the club in its early days was handled by Joe Bartholomew, Digby said.
Bartholomew, who was Black, had studied with Raynor for several months in New York state before bringing the design back to Metairie and overseeing the construction of the course, The Times-Picayune reported. Bartholomew remained at the course as Head Professional for more than a decade, but multiple accounts say he never actually played a round there due to segregation. Bartholomew also oversaw the construction of several other golf courses in New Orleans, including Pontchartrain Park, which was later named for him.
Digby declined to divulge information on membership, the number of rounds played per year or how much was being spent to renovate the course, citing the fact that the club is private, The Times-Picayune reported. He would only say that the cost was in the “millions.”
The last couple of decades have been difficult for the recreational golfing business, following a glut of courses built as the sport boomed in the 1990s, The Times-Picayune reported. Several courses throughout the New Orleans area have shut down in recent years.
Returning Metairie Country Club’s course to its earlier shape will hopefully evoke the original course design, Digby told The Times-Picayune.
“Are we going to be exactly like we were in 1925? No,” Digby said. “I think the course will be more fun to play.”