Watching the last version unfold over the weekend, it was a little sad to think that there will be no more city golf tournaments at Mallard Cove.

At some point in the next year there will be no more golf at the place as it gets replaced by a new city course.

I'm still not sure why we need a new one or how the old one suddenly became enough of a threat to the big jets at Chennault International Airport to get evicted. Don't recall hearing many plane crashes lately.

But those decisions are a little above my pay grade.

And I'm sure the new course will be just fine.

But it will have a hard act to follow in providing affordable golf for the area. Mallard Cove was something the city got right. It was what it was — one of the finest municipal courses in the state.

But that's only the half of it. It also was what it was named.

To my knowledge, the new course doesn't have a name yet — and that might be the problem.

Woody Arnold, the former longtime head pro at Mallard Cove, was back at the course over the weekend for the city tournament to see the old girl off.

Arnold, who was there almost from Mallard's inception, remembered how the course got its name.

Apparently it's not an exact science.

The way he recalls it, the course was still in the early, dirt-moving phases in the mid-1970s when then-Lake Charles Mayor Bill Boyer dropped by to check on the progress.

Boyer wasn't much into golf, more of a duck hunter, but it was a big city project so he was doing his due diligence.

So they were out there gazing out over a pond — probably the one between the No. 13 tee box and No. 18 green — when the mayor asked if this course had an actual name yet?

Nobody had an answer.

But the timing was perfect.

Right on cue, a flock of mallards lifted off in perfect formation out of the pond.

"That settles it," the mayor said after instinctively lifting and cocking an air shot gun. "We'll call it ‘Mallard Cove.'"

Done deal.

It stuck.

It stuck pretty nicely.

Never heard anybody complain about it.

Seems to have worked just fine all these years.

After Mallard Cove was built, it seemed like forever there were always rumors of another golf course coming to the area, but they never got beyond that rumor stage until Gray Plantation sprung up seemingly overnight in 1999.

And that's when the trouble started. After that, it seemed like we got a great new golf course once a year or so.

Don't get me wrong. They're all fine courses. The area has almost become a golf destination with championship layouts around every bend and bayou.

In Southwest Louisiana, it seems, we have no trouble building golf courses.

But naming them has been a whole other animal since the divine-duck intervention for Mallard.

It's been bogey after double bogey.

Pity the poor out-of-towner who gets local advice for where to tee it up and then tries to find the place by its proper surname.

The Lake Charles Country Club has been around since 1919, long enough, you'd think, to just go by "The Country Club."

It's still the lone private course in the city.

But, of course, now there's another The Country Club to confuse things.

Never head of it?

Of course not. Most people say they're going to play "The Golden Nugget," maybe just "The Nugget." It's next to the casino that for some reason decided to name its public course "The Country Club."

Next door you'd probably assume you're playing "L'Auberge" and, again, you'd be dead wrong. It's really the "Contraband Bayou Golf Club." I dare you to find three people who call it that.

Cross the bridge and it doesn't get any easier. Westlake is pretty easy to find and that's the course any local is going to tell you to play. But you'd actually be looking for "The National Golf Club of Louisiana." Good luck.

The place that started it all was Gray Plantation, and at least it comes close to living up to its name.

Still nobody plays "Gray Plantation" — they play Graywood (which is a subdivision) … or just Gray.

This identity crisis is not limited to the immediate Lake Area.

You could probably stump your foursome by asking them the name of the course up U.S. 165 a piece.

Nobody talks about playing any "Koasati Pines Golf Club," which is its formal name. They talk about a tee time at "Coushatta," which is a little town way up in north Louisiana but, OK, also the name of the adjoining casino.

Or maybe they'll just suggest "going to Kinder" to play. Fine, but actually the entrance to the course is just past a road sign proclaiming the Oberlin city limits.

Fortunately you can see it from the road.

Anyway, hopefully the city administration will use some vision and wisdom and come up with a suitable name for this new course — preferably something that people will accept and use.

The private sector has failed miserably.


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

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