The course at Metairie Country Club in Louisiana dates back to 1922, when Seth Raynor was commissioned to design 18 holes, built by golf professional Joe Bartholomew.
Several notable redesigns haven taken place since. In 1938, Jack Daray was hired to modernise the course. In the middle of the century portions of the layout were sold to ease financial difficulties. And a renovation was completed in the early 2000s to tackle flooding. Hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of fill were used to raise the level of holes.
As a result, evidence of Raynor’s hand has steadily diminished. So, in 2021, the club decided to undertake a project to bring back the original character of the course, and hired architect Brian Silva to conduct the work.
“During the planning process, the committee reviewed and studied a collection of template holes and various examples of each as they worked towards a finished product that more closely resembled some of the character of a Raynor design,” says Silva.
The project has seen the introduction of new greens complexes and bunkers, with new liners and sand, and the addition of over 15 acres of fairway and close-cut areas.
“We have refashioned holes into more recognisable and strategic examples of Raynor’s time-tested templates,” says Darryl Bartlett, senior project manager at NMP Golf Construction. “Inspired by the opening double green at Yale, the first at Metairie is a Punchbowl and Redan combination. And before the turn, players will have experienced Louisiana versions of Biarritz, Leven, Bottle, Redan, Double Plateau and Road holes, among others.
“The back nine continues the ode to vintage design with versions of the Lion’s Mouth, Eden, Knoll, Cape, Maiden and Short holes.”
Fairways have been grassed with Latitude 36 bermuda and expanded to allow alternate routes of play in a risk-reward fashion. Tees have been repositioned too.
“The better players will be able to challenge the course all the way back from the ‘Raynor tees’, while mere mortals will be able to experience the layout from a variety of more manageable marker settings,” says Bartlett.
The project also involved the construction of a comprehensive new drainage network, including several miles of pipe and over 550 basins, and a new irrigation system. Ponds were expanded and now feature new overflow structures and bulkhead walls.
NMP completed work during a very wet period – the record for rainfall in the area was broken for three months in succession. The new drainage network coped with it all, as well as a visit from Hurricane Ida.
Silva says: “Template holes, greater widths and more choices, allowed by more short-cut turf, seems to have captured golfers’ fancy as rounds of play and new memberships are at an all-time high.”
This article first appeared in the January 2024 issue of Golf Course Architecture. For a printed subscription or free digital edition, please visit our subscriptions page.