Course of action

MorganField site to replace Mallard Cove

Local officials gathered on Wednesday to break ground on a new municipal golf course in Lake Charles. It will eventually replace the existing Mallard Cove Golf Course near Chennault International Airport.

The new course, at 3400 East McNeese St., will be built on 160 acres of land donated to the city by MorganField Development. Construction is already underway on the course, and it could open as early as next fall.

“This demonstrates what can happen when you work together for a common goal,” City Administrator John Cardone said of the public-private partnership between the city, Chennault and MorganField Development.

Chennault approached the city several years ago to develop on property where Mallard Cove currently sits. The city, in turn, gave the Mallard Cove golf course to Chennault in exchange for Chennault

building a new golf course.

Mayor Nic Hunter said some people considered the concept of a new golf course in Lake Charles impossible.

“We got creative, and we are going to make this happen,” he said. “This is going to be a stellar golf course.”

Hunter thanked Chad Thielen, former MorganField president, for his role in making the new golf course a reality. Thielen, 64, died Sept. 17.

“This project would not have happened without the vision of Chad Thielen,” he said.

Chennault represents “economic diversity” for the city, Hunter said. Kevin Melton, Chennault executive director, said removing Mallard Cove will allow a currently closed taxiway to open.

“Make no mistake that this opportunity is incredibly important from an economic standpoint,” Melton said.

Randy Robb, former Chennault executive director, told the American Press in July 2015 about a proposed $257 million expansion on the Mallard Cove property to increase the airport’s cargo-handling capacity. Melton said increased cargo-handling is still an option and remains part of the airport’s capital improvement plan. He said an environmental assessment is underway on the property and is estimated to be done by July 2019.

Jeff Blume is the course’s designer and American Society of Golf Course Architects president. He said the links-style course’s length will vary from 4,000 yards to more than 7,000 yards, depending on tee position.

“There’s going to be some generous fairways (and) open-front greens,” Blume said.

Minnesota-based Duininck Golf Construction is the project’s general contractor. Eagle View Golf out of Houston is also building the course.

Chennault will pay $6.6 million to fund the design and building of the course. It will also pay $15,000 per month for 20 years, or $3.6 million, to cover the costs of utility extensions and construction of a club house and maintenance barn. Cardone said design of the club house and pro shop is anticipated to start early next year.

Once the new golf course is complete, Chennault will turn it over to the city. The city will then turn over the land where Mallard Cove sits to Chennault, allowing for future economic development at the airport.””

Local officials on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018 broke ground at the site of a new municipal golf course in Lake Charles. It will replace the existing Mallard Cove golf course, located near Chennault International Airport.

John GuidrozCalcasieu Parish Government and Cameron Parish Reporter