City Park CEO Bob Becker did not hold back his emotions at the grand opening ceremony for the new Bayou Oaks Golf Course.
“Yeah!” Becker exclaimed as he stepped to the microphone Friday morning.
His one word was like a picture that painted much more, because this sun-splashed day was more than a decade in the making.
Civic leaders, including Mayor Mitch Landrieu and state Sen. John Alario, and golf leaders alike heaped praise on the new Rees Jones layout and the adjoining clubhouse.
“This isn’t just a golf course, it’s a gift to the community,” said Jones. “This is going to be like (major public courses) Bethpage Black (in New York) and Torrey Pines (in California). It’s going to be your second home.”
New Orleans native Paul Levy, president of the PGA of America, was also pleased to see the final result.
“I grew up playing golf here,” said Levy, noting longtime City Park golf professionals Frank Mackel and Henry Thomas among his influencers. “Everything I learned in life and business started with the game of golf.”
Levy added that the length of this project, which began before Hurricane Katrina in 2005, only adds to the resiliency of the people of New Orleans.
“We don’t give up,” Levy said. “My heart will always be in New Orleans.”
The First Tee of Greater New Orleans participant Karrington Knight is among the newest generation of golfers who will play at City Park.
“The best thing for our game is exposure,” Knight said. “City Park and Bayou Oaks will provide just that.”
After Friday morning’s ceremony, which included an honorary first putt by all of the speakers, the course opened to the public at 12:30 p.m.