By George McNeilly

Long and widely recognized as “Louisiana’s Playground,” Lake Charles, located in the southwest part of the state, is a very special place and should be on every golfer’s radar.

It was so easy to get to.  In my case, flying in through Houston, then a short flight to find some joy.

Lake Charles recently launched a new tourism campaign aptly named “As Much Joy As You Can Pack In,” and I could not be more in agreement.

I’d been there before for professional bass fishing while working for ESPN. My memories of fresh and delicious seafood, nightlife, and great outdoor activities like kayaking were as quickly refreshed as I was.

We stayed at L’Auberge Casino Resort, featuring a massive sportsbook and grill. My room was beautifully decorated, and while there, we took a short walk to The Contraband Bayou Golf Club, designed by Tom Fazio, which emphasizes the marsh and lowland features of a natural environment.  It’s a 7,000-yard, par-71 championship golf layout with ample tee boxes for golfers of any skill.

The resort and golf club are a short walk to yet another, The Golden Nugget Casino, which features many shopping and dining options and a live poker room for those who enjoy some Texas Hold ‘Em.

The Country Club at Golden Nugget is a masterpiece by designer Todd Eckenrode.  It, too is a 7,000-yard gem that is certain to please. My two takeaways are to stay out of the rough and then go enjoy a chef-crafted meal in the elegant, full-service clubhouse.

Lake Charles is also known as “The Festival Capital of Louisiana” and hosts more than 75 of them annually. The most famous of which is the second-largest Mardi Gras in the state behind New Orleans.

The home city of the NFL’s Saints is known for incredible cuisine, just as in Lake Charles. Located within L’Auberge Resort are Drago’s Seafood Restaurant and Mexican restaurant Johnny Sánchez, which originated in the Big Easy by award-winning chef Aarón Sánchez. More