Course Name: Oak Harbor Golf Club
Designer: Lee Schmitt (1992)
Location: Slidell, Louisiana
History: This Lee Schmitt design opened in 1992 and is currently semi-private.
Conditions: 7/10, Oak Harbor is in solid condition for a public course in area. The greens are fast, but a bit sandy/bumpy, while the fairway and teeboxes are in good shape.
Value: 8/10, For just over $30 with a cart on a weekday, Oak Harbor offers some of the best value in New Orleans. You’d expect a course like this to be at least double that.
Tee Par Yardage Rating Slope
Blue 72 6897 73.6 143
White 72 6282 70.5 132
Gold 72 5796 68.5 128
Red 72 5226 70.5 126
Hole Descriptions: Architect Lee Schmitt spent his early years under the wings of both Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus, and their influence is overwhelming at Oak Harbor. This course is characterized by generous fairways, plenty of water, and even Dye’s classic railroad ties. Many holes remind me of a Bayou version of one of Dye’s best courses – Blackwolf Run.
The opening hole is a gentle 339 yard par 4 that eases you into your round. This fairway is extremely generous, but water does come into play if you stray far right. While this green is reachable for the longest of golfers, three bunkers short make this a risky play. At 484 yards, the par 5 2nd is the first of four reachable par fives at Oak Harbor. This hole is a slightly dogleg right with trees left and water right off the tee. The only real danger near this green is a deep bunker short left. The 3rd is another short par 4 at only 349 yards. This entire fairway slopes left-to-right, with water guarding the right side of this green. This green is slightly elevated with a deep bunker short. The following 4th is yet another short 335 yard par 4 that plays as a tighter version of the 3rd, with bunkers at 215 yards on the left and one just short of the green.
The 175 yard 5th is one of the most memorable holes at Oak Harbor and is almost a carbon copy of Blackwolf Run’s 4th. Water lines the entire right side of this par 3 and a long narrow green juts out into the pond. For those who opt to bailout left, a large bunker awaits. I find the 6th teeshot to be the most intimidating shot on the course. This razor-thin 383 yard par 4 is straddled by water on both sides requiring a straight drive or your ball will be lost. To further challenge the golfer, a bunker at 250 yards in the right rough will catch many well-struck drives. Like the previous hole, this green juts out into the water with a large bunker short.
The 155 yard 7th is a similar, yet less severe version of the 5th with water lining the entire right side of this hole. A giant waste bunker guards short of this diagonal green, but no carry over water is necessary. I came within an inch of my second hole-in-one here. Arguably the most difficult hole on the course, the beastly 442 yard 8th plays downhill with water on the right for the first 200 yards, and then water on the left starting at 275 yards. This tiny green is directly lined by water on the left and a bunker long. The closer on the front is another challenging hole as a 497 yard par 5. Although short, water lines the entire right side of this dogleg right, while a steep hill of fescue lines the left. This fairway is pretty narrow already, and becomes even narrower at 260 yards with two bunkers on the left. This narrow green plays back-to-front and is guarded by a long bunker on the left.
While the front 9 closes with an extremely difficult set of holes, the short, straightforward 10th provides some relief. At 367 yards, this par 4 features a generous fairway up until 270 yards, when water creeps into play on the left. This green is guarded on the left by a long, narrow bunker. The 309 yard 11th follows as the easiest hole on the course. Legitimately reachable off the tee, the only real danger here is bunkers short on either side. The 12th is a tight, yet straightforward par 5 playing 508 yards. As long as you can avoid two bunkers on the left between 200 and 270 yards, this becomes a good chance at another birdie. At 167 yards, the 13th is an awkward par 3 with a green partially hidden by a mound on the left. A large bunker guarding the left side of this green is almost certainly blind.
The 14th is a 395 yard, straightaway par 4 that is pretty open. Aside from bunkers sporadically lining this fairway, there’s not much to say about this hole. I assume the 15th is their signature hole, an 162 yard par 3 with a peninsular green surrounded by water on three sides. The only dry bailout is left, but a large bunker looms here. At only 341 yards, the 16th is an interesting short par 4 that features two carries over water. The first occurs right off the tee about 100 yards to a generous fairway. At about 50 yards short of this green, the fairway narrows to almost nothing, requiring a short pitch over another hazard.
The 17th plays somewhat similarly to the 16th as a short 472 yard par 5. Teeing off with water lining your right, this fairway is generous up until about 280 yards, when water on the right constricts it to almost nothing. The remainder of the fairway is extremely narrow and this shallow green juts out into the water on the right. The closing hole is the strongest par 4 at Oak Harbor playing 402 yards. With water to your right and the driving range on your left, this hole provides a generous landing area. This green, however, is directly lined by railroad ties and water to its right and tiny pot bunkers short and on the left. A closing par here is strong.
Best Par 3: 5th Hole, 175 yards, 11th handicap. Featuring an intimidating teeshot over water the entire way, this impressive one-shotter’s green is lined by water on the right and a deep bunker on the left. A green-in-regulation is to be celebrated here.
Best Par 4: 18th Hole, 402 yards, 2nd handicap. Although this hole features a somewhat wide fairway, menacing bunkers left and water right are prominently displayed from the teebox. Like most holes at Oak Harbor, however, this hole is all about the approach, with water and pot bunkers surrounding this tiny green.
Best Par 5: 9th Hole, 497 yards, 7th handicap. Although all four par fives at Oak Harbor are reachable, you have to be strategic to avoid big numbers. This is especially true on the 9th, a narrow dogleg right with water lining the entire right side. Multiple bunkers and fescue along the left place a premium on accuracy.
General Comments: Oak Harbor boasts impressive practice facilities with a large putting green, chipping green, and grass driving range. Pace of play was also great, and we played in under 4 hours.
Verdict: Oak Harbor provides great value and one of the stronger designs in the Greater New Orleans area. I highly recommend this course to any tourists looking for an “underrated gem” that won’t break the bank.