Appeared in April 2007 LINKS
The New Orleans of 1922 was booming. Streetcar carryed residents from Uptown, Metairie or Gentilly to the bustling business district by day, and when night fell, to the jazz clubs that would change the country’s music history. Ships entered the ports carrying sailors eager for landfall, and riverboats docked near the French Quarter.
Perhaps it was one of those riverboats that brought Seth Raynor, who had come at the behest of a personal friend to design a private “estate” course on 110 acres of low-lying land in nearby Metairie. Raynor drew up a bold design based on the style of adapting holes from the British Isles that he had developed under C.B. Macdonald.
When Metairie opened in 1925, New Orleans golfers had never encountered anything like the Punchbowl green on the 361-yard 4th; nor were they familiar with Eden, the 193-yard 7th modeled after the 11th at the Old Course at St. Andrews. Raynor had specified the construction of elevated greens protected by noses, slopes and mounds, features that were as foreign to New Orleans as the greensites themselves.
Raynor borrowed from the Old Course’s Road hole, with its menacing bunker and strongly pitched green, not once but twice—at the 505-yard 9th and the 372-yard 13th, known as Short Road. He also included a man-made pond on National, the 398-yard 10th. The water overlays perfectly with the outline of the vast waste area on the 10th hole of the National Golf Links.
The Metairie, as the club came to be known among locals, quickly moved to the fore of the regional golf community. Under head professional Fred Haas Sr., the club hosted the True Temper Open between 1932 and 1936.
Though Haas would remain head professional for many years, his son, Fred Haas Jr., may be most closely associated with the club. The younger Haas would go on to a legendary career as a player—as an amateur, he stopped Byron Nelson’s streak of 11 consecutive wins in 1945, and became the first player to compete in both the Walker Cup and Ryder Cup.
Throughout his professional career, Fred Jr. lured many top players to Metairie for pro-ams and exhibitions. During one of those exhibitions, he arranged for a young caddie at the club to loop for Ben Hogan. The boy had shown a great potential, but it’s doubtful that Hogan ever suspected that his caddie that day, Alfred “Rabbit” Dyer, would go on to become famous as Gary Player’s longtime bagman.
Despite its rich lineage, Metairie began to grow tired over the years from use and modifications—eliminating bunkers, flattening greens and surrounds, and planting hundreds of trees that created a canopy over much of the course. Drainage issues plagued the club; an inch of rain could close the course for days.
Year founded: 1922
Architect: Seth Raynor
This Seth Raynor design has come back strong—first from neglect, then from Hurricane Katrina
By: Tom Ferrell