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Friday, August 01, 2014
Southwest Louisiana ,
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The Pine Shadows Golf Course closed on Friday. (Photo courtesy of the city of Lake Charles)

The Pine Shadows Golf Course closed on Friday. (Photo courtesy of the city of Lake Charles)

We'll be pining for this course

Last Modified: Monday, February 03, 2014 11:05 AM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

It was along about No. 16 before we had one of those true “Pine Shadows Moments.”

We’d finally found my ball plugged in a drainage ditch, foot-wedged it into playable position, and were arguing about whether it was a hazard or a free drop.

The scorecard rules were fuzzy on the matter.

We decided to settle it later, so anyway I’m lining up, getting my swing thoughts straight in my head, trying the salvage the hole and …

What in tarnation is THAT?

Up until then it had been fairly uneventful round of golf, at least by Pine Shadows’ quirky standards.

It’s closed now, as you probably know. Friday was its last day, pulling the pins for good when the sun set.

But Ray, Danny and I decided we had to play her one last time.

I probably hadn’t played Pine Shadows in 20 years or so. Not sure why.

Too many other, more high-end but relatively inexpensive golf options in the area now, I guess.

It’s certainly wasn’t that the course was beneath my game. Not much is. My game would be suited for a gravel parking lot, which is exactly where my game often takes me.

But we were going to get one last round in. This would have been last Monday, a gray and semi-damp and blustery day. So, of course, there were more golfers in the card game in the corner of the pro shop than on the golf course, which we all but had to ourselves.

I won’t bore you with the details of the round, except that I birdied No. 17 and Ray and Danny didn’t and I actually had a 38 on the back and the less said about the front the better (47). Although Ray (lucky) seemed to enjoy it.

But back to No. 16.

“What is he doing?” Danny asked.

I had to back away from my testy shot.

I guess I have trouble concentrating when a very large pickup truck is barreling toward me.

The truck had taken a left up by the green and now, coming at us, it looked like a Ford F-250 off-road commercial, bouncing and careening over hill and over dale, racing breakneck down the fairway at Ram-Tough speed.

“You never see that at the L’Auberge course,” Ray said.

“At least we know it’s not cart-path only,” Danny added.

The guy in the pickup truck waved as he bounced by, acting like it was perfectly normal to race a pickup truck down the 16th fairway.

“Maybe he knows a shortcut,” Danny said.

“Glad we got to see something like that,” Ray said. “Only at Pine Shadows.”

But it was contagious. Next thing you knew, there was a veritable epidemic of Pine Shadows Moments.

By the time we putted out on No. 16, for instance, Danny noticed that the golf course was on fire.

Seriously.

We saw the smoke earlier in the hole. Now we could see flames lapping up, although our view was blocked as to exactly what it was that was spectacularly ablaze over on the other side of the course.

“I don’t recall Gray Plantation ever catching on fire,” Danny said.

“That’s a pretty good fire,” Ray said. “Wonder what they’re doing.”

Who knows? We shook it off. Didn’t seem to be a threat. And standing on No. 17 tee box we saw the pickup truck, having reversed field, rocking down an adjoining fairway, apparently heading to investigate.

Oh, yeah, No. 17. Ray and I play together a lot, at least once a week, usually sharing a cart.

You get to know a person like that, understanding his golf quirks.

So I was only idly paying attention as Ray settled over his 3-wood second shot.

I thought he’d parked the cart a little close to his ball, but I wasn’t really watching his swing — I’d pick up the flight and help follow the shot.

KA-WHAAAAM!

What the …

He’d shanked the 3-wood directly into the cart with a mighty WHACK. It knocked his range finder out of a cup holder and the ball rattled around my scampering butt until we both escaped with the ball ending up about 5 yards away from the cart while I searched for flesh wounds.

Danny was laughing hysterically.

“Must be Pine Shadows,” he yelled, and Ray was fine with blaming the course on scaring the wits out of me.

Fortunately we only had one hole left to play, which went off without incident, even as the winds picked up and the smoke from the fire started to fill the whole course.

But now that the final round is done, yeah, I wish I’d played Pine Shadows more.

There’s something to be said for no-frills golf, beginning with the fact that you could slap $20 on the counter and be on your way.

It was longer than I remembered, particularly the front nine, or maybe I’m shorter than the course remembered me.

It’s a good layout. Interesting.

It doesn’t bore with lush fairways, although they seemed to handle pickup trucks well. The tiny turtleback greens were a challenge, but even in their last days they still putted as well as any of the up-scale courses.

Pine Shadows never did get the memo about the invention of the sand trap, which hurts the aerial photos of the place, but it is an excellent idea when actually playing the thing.

Anyway, it occurred to me that if someone were to invest a good chunk of change on bigger greens, more water and sand, etc., maybe some mounding, there’s no reason it couldn’t be just like the newer courses in the area.

But that’s not what the area golf community needs. There are plenty of those — and another casino one on the way.

What the area needs — and will miss — is exactly what closed Friday.

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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