“I’ve never been involved in such a challenging yet incredibly exciting new golf course project” says golf course architect Todd Eckenrode.
Irvine, CA- The Country Club at the Golden Nugget, designed by Todd Eckenrode – Origins Golf Design, which opened for play in 2015, continues to receive rave reviews from both resort guests and course critics. Located on the banks of Prien Lake and the Calcasieu River in Lake Charles, Louisiana, the resort course was named as a 2015 Top-10 New Course by Golf Digest magazine.
Capitalizing on existing features, including extensive river frontage, groves of mature Loblolly Pines and isolated sandy knolls, the course offers variety on each hole, guaranteeing guests a distinctive golf experience. In various locations the site occupies what was once actual riverbed. Decades of dredging in the nearby Calcasieu River coupled with the deposit of sand and silt from shipping channels, slowly transformed the land into what would emerge as one of the nation’s top-ranked new golf courses. During the construction phase massive amounts of soil were imported, bringing the golf features above flood levels and accentuating the remnant features of the site. “As we went up and up, the views just kept getting better and better,” said Golf Course Designer Todd Eckenrode. “It validated the routing of not only the riverfront holes but also the interior holes which now hold spectacular views across both course and water.”
The hub of the course revolves around a pine-studded sandy hill with four holes playing in and four holes playing out of sandy higher ground. Interior holes have large waste bunkers to navigate and the canal on these particular holes serves as a natural link to the river holes.
According to Eckenrode, one of the most distinct features of the golf course is the collection of waste bunkers. “The waste bunker concept was functional in one sense, creating low areas outside of turf that could tolerate periodic flooding,” said Eckenrode. “It would have been easy to make these areas water or swampland but that would have made the course just like every other course in the lowlands. By creating vast, sweeping waste bunkering throughout, we were able to achieve a drainage solution by utilizing hazards strategically while also enhancing aesthetics.”
Another benefit of this design solution is the high level of playability it affords golfers who can quickly go find and play their balls in these areas. As golfers make their way back to the river-side of the course, the dominant features are the water frontage and expansive views of the surrounding waterway juxtaposed with the interior waste bunkering, lending a “links like” character and open feel unlike any other course.
“One of our primary goals when designing the course was to create a memorable golf experience unlike any other in Louisiana,” said Eckenrode, “and I am pleased to say that we were able to achieve that goal.”
Golfers agree that when they play The Country Club at the Golden Nugget Golf Course their round finishes with a memorable stretch of closing holes. The final five holes meander alongside Indian Bay and the Calcasieu River, with two par 3’s, a drivable par-4 plus a long-and-difficult par-4, and a closing par-5. The drama continues to build on the closing holes and doesn’t seem to let up, keeping the player intrigued until the final putt.
“The horseshoe effect of Indian Bay allows the golfer to bite off as much as they dare, and the change of direction on these holes makes the projecting wind off the water play in a wonderfully wicked way,” said Eckenrode. “One of the things I love about the Calcasieu River holes is that one minute you may catch a glimpse of a massive tanker pulled by two tugboats, or next, it’s the sound of a line as a kayak fisherman works the nearby inner banks. It’s an amazing setting, and pure Louisiana!”
The nearly 7,000-yard course features Miniverde bermudagrass greens and Celebration bermudagrass tees, fairways and roughs. The waste bunkers are accented with surrounding Spartina and Muhly grasses.
Teaming with Todd Eckenrode and Origins’ Senior Designer Andy Frank were a talented crew of builders from HD Truck and Tractor, Eagle Golf and Yates Construction. Hand-picked by Eckenrode for their talent were independent shapers Joe Hancock and Doug Denoon. “By working closely with our lead shaper Joe Hancock, who handled all of the greens, bunkers, surrounds and contouring, we took great care to make each green unique, reflective of the shot and effect desired,” said Eckenrode. These may be some of our finest original greens to-date, and it is Joe Hancock that is to be commended. It’s a course golfers will never tire of, and one they’ll want to experience again, and again.”
About Todd Eckenrode – Origins Golf Design
Our goal at Todd Eckenrode – Origins Golf Design is to deliver a golf course of the highest quality that is reflective of our intense level of dedication, our beliefs in time-tested classical design, and our love for the game of golf.
We believe that every golf course must have its own personality and identity, creating a sense of place that is unique. We work diligently to expose this underlying identity through our design, allowing it to shine through in the end. Our belief in crafting all features of the golf course in the field, from the ground up, brings a high level of detail to our design work and further distinguishes each course.
Todd Eckenrode – Origins Golf Design
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Todd Eckenrode (email@example.com)
18022 Cowan, Suite 200 | Irvine, CA 92614 U.S.A. | (949) 476.6878