Contraband Bayou Review

Texas Outside Rating: 8.8

Golf - Resort Public Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
Lake Charles, LA
Website
Date Last Played: October 16, 2014

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Contraband Bayou Review

Review and Rating of Contraband Bayou Golf Club at L’Auberge in Lake Charles Louisiana

Contraband Bayou Golf Club at L’Auberge Casino Resort is a Tom Fazio design that opened for play in 2004.  Over 400,000 cubic yards of dirt were moved to sculpture the course and more than 600 trees of 8 different varieties were planted, and the greens were redone with Champion Ultradrawf Bermuda in 2010.  Fazio did an excellent job of leveraging the natural terrain and the bayou.

This is not your normal Tom Fazo course, which can be very demanding and a true test of every part of you game.  Instead, Contraband Bayou is home to wide open fairways and four sets of tee boxes with yardages ranging from 5091 to 7077 yards making it a course that all skill levels can play, not get beat up, and have a relaxing and enjoyable round. 

That said, Contraband Bayou Golf Club is no walk in the park – there is water that can come into play on 14 holes, 57 bunkers just waiting for you, and greens that can be demanding.  Contraband Bayou is a good quality course and it's not surprising that it's won a number of awards and accolades, some of which include:

  • Best Places to Play in Louisiana and Best Casino Courses from 2010 through 2013 by Golf Week Magazine
  • Best Golf Course by Casino Player Magazine and Southern Gaming Magazine in 2013
  • #2 in Golf Week Magazine's Best of Louisiana Golf Courses

The front nine is the easiest of the nines from our perspective - all of the holes are straight ahead and you can see the pin and what you’re up against, the fairways are wide and forgiving, the rough is also wide, and you need to really spray it to hit the water.  You will need to avoid 32 bunkers of all shapes and sizes and most have pretty steep faces making it tough to get out of them.  Pick the right set of tee boxes and don’t bite off more than you can chew and play strategically to avoid the bunkers and you’ll have an enjoyable and low scoring nine.   And maybe walk back into the Casino with a little extra money in you pocket to spend on the tables!

Speaking of trouble – you need to stay clear of some of the water because there are alligators that don't liked to get bonked by your golf balls.  In fact, on one of the holes next to an sign warning about alligators we saw a 10’ or so gator sunning itself and actually thought it was fake.  So we drove over too it and when we were 5’ away it quickly scurried back to the water.  We also saw several flying fish that would come sailing out of the water and do a nice dive back into the water and then do it again – amazing, were they trying to avoid the alligator?

The back nine is a little more challenging and fun from our perspective.  You’ve got water on 6 holes and 25 bunkers to worry about, a couple risk reward opportunities, two dog legs, what seemed like more challenging greens, and some fun holes.  For example:

  • #10 is 373 yards and straight as an arrow except for the green which is set back off to the left side making the approach a little tricky
  • #12 is a 435 yard par 4 with a great risk reward shot if you think you can fly the trees and clear two bunkers where the fairway takes a sharp turn right
  • #13 is a very pretty par 3 with a lake, white sand bunkers, and blooming bottle brush in back of the green
  • #15 is the #1 handicap hole and it’s fun and challenging – a 557 yard par 5 with a contoured fairly tight fairway with trees and mounds that takes a slight turn left and down to a raised green with bunkers, significant slope, and plenty of contour

When we played in October the Contraband Bayou Golf Club fairways were in very good condition as was the rough.  The majority of the fairways are wide and forgiving and the rough is generous but it varied from thin and playable to thick and challenging.  Miss the rough and you’re in the Bayou or in a dense natural area and most likely lost. There are no homes on the course and the fairways are well maintained, manicured and landscaped.  The magnificent L’Auburge Resort looms in the background on every hole and it’s like big brother watching over your golf game and waiting for you to come back and spend you golf game winnings in the Casino. 

The greens at Contraband Bayou are a wide variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from a tad small to above average.  Most of the greens are raised making bump and runs challenging and all are guarded by steep and deep bunkers or depressions or grass swales.  The slope and contour varies from minor to manageable.  When we played the greens were in excellent condition, held the ball well, and ran true (we found it easy to read the majority of the breaks), and ran at a very good and manageable speed.

Water and bunkers define Contraband Bayou and Fazio likes to build them with very steep faces and it’s significant trouble if you happen to hit and stick on the face.  The bunkers ranged from small pot bunkers to some huge long monsters.  The good news is that they are very well maintained and the sand is soft and thick and fun to hit out of. 

Bottom line – a very good Fazio layout but not typical of most of his designs.  Contraband Bayou is a resort course that’s straight forward and traditional, forgiving but can be demanding, and a joy to play – and the rates are very reasonable for such a quality course.   

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Gold 7,077 74.0 130
Blue 6,531 74.2 120
White 6,015 69.0 116
Red 5,091 69.2 114

Course Information

Course Architect:
Tom Fazio
Greens Type:
Champion Ultradrawf Bermuda
Greens Condition
9.5
Greens Difficulty
8.2
Fairway Condition
9.0
Bunker Condition
9.8
GPS:
Yes
Walkable:
Easy
Beware of water on 14 holes and the 57 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
8.8 out of 10
Beauty:
9.0
Difficulty:
8.3
Variety:
8.5
Fun to Play:
9.5
Value:
8.7
Condition:
9.3
Front Nine Rating:
8.8
Back Nine Rating:
9.0
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FEES & AMENITIES

Approximate Weekend
Rates:
$39.00 to $99.00

The pro shop has the basics, the practice facilities are adequate, and the service is very good and friendly. The cart lady shows up every 5 holes or so. There is no grill but the staff can order something from the Resort and deliver it to you. The GPS on the cart is excellent with touch screen functionality and voice fly overs.

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Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating

The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this:  links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course.  In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40.  We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking. 

 

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