BATON ROUGE, La. -- Golf will become a major part of Louisiana's
tourism marketing with the launch of the state's Audubon Golf Trail
Between five and eight courses will be chosen to participate in
the trail, which will be backed by a $1 million annual marketing
budget from the state.
Details of the project were announced by the state's Department
of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.
A 12-member commission, formed by Lt. Gov. Kathleen Babineaux
Blanco to assist in setting criteria and standards and selecting
the courses, started meeting last fall.
"We've lagged behind other states. We've been passive in
promoting golf," said Stuart Johnson, deputy assistant secretary at
the Office of State Parks, which is developing the trail.
His office expects to start accepting applications from golf
courses in late February.
"We have many excellent courses, but we're going to be very
Developing criteria is a critical part of the process," Johnson
About 40 courses have shown interest, and 15 to 20 are expected
to apply, he said.
Tee times will be booked through the state parks' existing
reservations system for cabins and other park facilities.
"We're on target to have [the trail] up and operating and the
reservations system in place in the fall," said Johnson.
The trail is being modeled on Alabama's Robert Trent Jones Golf
"Alabama is our model. The trail's effect on tourism there has
been tremendous," Johnson said.
All eight courses of the RTJ Golf Trail, stretching from the
Appalachians to the Gulf of Mexico, were developed, funded and are
owned by the Retirement Systems of Alabama, a state employee
The courses were built to stimulate tourism and economic
development and to attract retirees.
Louisiana had intended that the Audubon Golf Trail be a mix of
new and existing courses.
The office had sought bids for developers to build courses at
three state parks.
However, only one bid was received by the deadline last June,
and that did not fulfill the minimum bid requirements.
Johnson said that although the idea of new private courses has
been abandoned for the present, it is still a future
For additional information on the golf trail, call the Office of
State Parks at (877) 226-7652 or visit the Web site at www.crt.state.la.us.