Gray Plantation Golf Course, Lake Charles, Louisiana - A Golf Course Ranked No. 3 in the Nation for Courses Under $50

The Gray Plantation Golf Course has a couple of unique honors to its credit. For one, Golf Digest rated it #75 on its list of Top 100 Golf Courses in 2005. Secondly, it's also quite the bargain for such a top-notch golf course, costing only around $50, even during peak golf season. As a result, it's also been honored with a ranking of No. 3 in the nation for courses that cost under $50.

"The Gray,'' as it's known locally, is also one of the most beautifully landscaped courses with a good deal of challenge. Golfers who like water will love this course, which is nestled between two winding lakes, Lake Matilda and Indigo Lake. All told, there are 60 acres of lakes found on the course, as well as marshes, wooden bridges, and 94 sand bunkers. There are few forced carries off the tee, however, and trouble can be avoided with conservative shot selections.

The 18-hole, par-72 course was actually lengthened with the addition of several tees after a PGA Tour Player named Mike Heinin shot a 58. The course now plays to 7,233 yards from the championship tees, with a USGA rating of 73.6 and a slope rating of 138.

The course, which opened in 1999, was designed by William "Rocky'' Roquemore, who made use of the natural topography to create and feature some tough par-3s. There are two with island greens, including the No. 6 signature hole - a scenic hole that borders the Calcasieu Waterway and features the smallest green on the course.

Another noteworthy hole is the par-5 No. 7, which plays to 589 yards from the back tees and features water along the entire left side. And that's not even the tricky part. If viewed from above, the fairway is shaped like a question mark, and golfers must decide if they want to cross the water and try a shortcut to reach the green in two, or play to the landing area on their second shot, then cross the water on their third shot. Even the safet route will have golfers crossing a jutting stretch of wetland to a landing area surrounded by rough and sand traps.

In addition to its other honors and awards, the Gray Plantation Golf Course has also been awarded 4? Stars by Golf Digest in 2003-2004, and received the highest ranking in Louisana by Zagat Survey's 2007 edition of "America's Top Golf Courses.'' The course is also a charter member of the Audubon Golf Trail,

Practice facilities at the course include a range and short-game area. Golf instruction and club rentals are also available.

The course also features a clubhouse that is a destination for dining, meetings, banquets and weddings. The Cypress Grill in the clubhouse features a 30-foot vaulted ceiling and offers casual dining for golfers and others.

Other points of interest include the Lake Charles community, which has the nickname of "Festival Capital of Louisiana'' in honor of hosting more than 75 fairs and festivals each year.

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