Historic New Orleans Course Set to Reopen Following Remodel

After a $9 million project that has resulted in an all-new Joseph M. Bartholomew Sr. Municipal Golf Course, New Orleans officials will be reopening the popular facility on Friday.

The project was necessary after Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans. The horrible storm six years ago inundated the course with as much as 22 feet of flood water.

The remodel was overseen by Wisconsin-based architect, Garrett Gill. In addition to new tees, greens and fairways, the project involved nine new lakes and placing power lines underground.

The city had hoped to open the course October 1 after trying to secure the services of an outside vendor to operate it. But the selected company, Ohio-based GolfPlay LLC, wasn't able to get the financing in order to open the course by the target date.

Two other groups submitted proposals in May, but the city decided to get the project completed and open the course on its own. It will be operated by the Department of Parks and Parkways.

The facility, completed in 1956 and originally called Pontchartrain Park Golf Course, has historical significance. Its namesake, who grew up caddying at Audubon Golf Course in New Orleans, was reportedly the first African-American to design and build a public golf facility in the United States. During the segregation era Pontchartrain Park was the only golf course in the area open to African-Americans. It was renamed Bartholomew - who became the first African-American inducted into the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 1972 - in 1979.

According to reporter Kari Dequine of the Times Picayune (http://www.nola.com/golf/index.ssf/2011/11/joseph_m_bartholomew_sr_munici.html), Bartholomew got his start in golf architecture after members of Metairie Country Club sent him to New York in 1922 to study golf course design. When he returned to the New Orleans area, he designed and built Metairie Golf Course, City Park courses 1 and 2 in New Orleans, and numerous other courses in the Southeast. Because of his race, however, Bartholomew wasn't allowed to play any of them, so he built a seven-hole course on his own property in Harahan.

Bartholomew, who died in 1971, bequeathed the Pontchartrain Park course to the city under the condition that it always be used for public golf.

Officials are now in planning for a second renovation phase, slated to cost $4 million and begin in 2012. That project will refurbish the clubhouse, pro shop, cart-storage facility and maintenance building.

Greens fees are $25 weekdays and $30 weekends, with discounted rates after 3:00 p.m. For more information or a tee time, visit http://www.nola.gov/golf.