"The theme is where the prairie meets the wetland in south Louisiana," says course superintendent Robert Vonderheide, "which happens to be around Lafayette."
The $10 million, 198-acre course has been four years in the making and was one of the projects included in a $229 million bond issue approved by voters in 1997. Located on the west side of University Avenue just north of I-10, The Wetlands incorporates a range of idyllic south Louisiana settings into the game, and is expected to be included on the Audubon Golf Trail, a group of south Louisiana courses marketed nationally by the state.
The clubhouse area mimics the lush elevated marsh islands along Louisiana's coast, surrounded by shady oaks and magnolia trees. Much of the course is lined with wetlands, which surround the course's signature 16th hole (pictured), a 175-yard par 3.
Tiny islands with Cypress trees and button bush dot the low-lying ponds, where wood ducks and green head mallards swim around one of several duck nesting boxes placed around the course. Seven ponds also feature indigenous wetland plants, including bright green pickerelweed and cattail shoots. Along the back end of the course, golfers enter more of a prairie setting, with oak trees and a line of gold-tipped Indian grass flanking the picturesque par-4, 12th hole.
The course should present more of a challenge to golfers than Lafayette's two other municipal courses. Since many of the newly planted trees are still young, wind can be a major factor on the course, and water looms at 12 of the course's holes.
The Wetlands opens to the public this Wednesday, April 27. The course is open six days a week and is closed on Tuesdays. Green fees are $25 during the week and $30 on weekends and holidays. For more info, call 291-7151.
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