There are other
places a dead golf course can go. At Eastover, where Katrina demolished 36
holes and $2 million worth of golf carts and maintenance vehicles, developer
Donnie Pate intends to bulldoze the weaker 18 and build houses. At Lakewood,
now owned by the New Orleans Fireman's Credit Union, plans to build a resort
hotel, condo development and retirement community are on hold.
displaced golfers will wind up is another question. A healthy number of range
rats turned out in early March when City Park reopened the Bayou Oaks driving
range. The pro shop was an empty shell, but park policeman Bill Bayle sold $5
buckets of dirty range balls from an outdoor table. "We tried to wash off
the balls with the hose," said Bayle, "but somebody stole the
It's another day
in City Park, another setting sun, another cool breeze. Cleveland Harris, 78,
is practicing short pitches with a wedge to what used to be the Bayou Oaks
North course putting green. The balls at his feet spill out of an unzipped shag
Harris is a
retired schoolteacher living on a pension. His house on Harrison Street, just
east of the park, was flooded, so he's renting an apartment on Cadiz Street.
Before that he spent months as FEMA's guest at a hotel in Baton Rouge.
"This is my town," he says. "I plan to restore my house." But
first he has to persuade authorities to remove the teetering pine tree in front
of his gutted home. A gentle man with a sweet smile and soothing voice, Harris
takes an easy swing and lobs a shot onto the overgrown green.
playing golf my whole life," he continues. "I was playing golf out here
when it was against the law for black folks to play." In fact, Harris
helped finance the 1950s lawsuit that gained blacks access to the park courses,
first on Tuesdays and Fridays and later on an unrestricted basis. He rakes a
ball from the pile. "It's very important that they get the golf courses
going again because we need recreation," he says. "We need
The old man hits
another nice high wedge, watching the ball drop to the ground with obvious
pleasure. "I'm no fluke," he says. "I play the game."
It would be cruel
to point out to Harris that New Orleans's nighttime temperatures will soon hit