Southern Trace’s mission: Be the best again

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

Less than two years ago, when the Southern Trace membership wrestled their country club from ClubCorpSBJ spotlight for $4 million, the new owners vowed to put money, a lot of money, into their baby for a much-needed facelift.

“The plans and expectations are to take this to the highest level possible – include being the best country club in the state of Louisiana and one of the best in the region,” board member Michael Fulco said after the purchase in 2020.

This wasn’t lip service.

After completing an irrigation project that cost more than a million dollars, the club is in the midst of a $2.2-million greens rebuild and redesign. This is the biggest project at the club since it opened in 1988.

“Southern Trace opened as the No. 2-ranked golf course in the state. In order of magnitude, it will be as nice as when it first opened,” Steve Skrivanos, president of the board of directors, told The Journal.

There is plenty of local flair to Southern Trace 2.0, including help from Origin Bank and a man – who just happens to be a Southern Trace member — with decades of experience as a golf course designer under legend Jack Nicklaus.

Jim Lipe, a senior design associate on Nicklaus’ team for 26 years, is spearheading the redesign.

“Jim plays here. His track record and what he’s bringing to the table is hard to comprehend,” Skrivanos said. “He’s an artist. The fact we have a member with that skill set is a godsend to us.”

Among the highlights: The new Nos. 4 and 16, both par-3s, will have heavy influences from two of the most famous short holes in the world, Nos. 12 and 16 at Augusta National Golf Club.

Every green will be rebuilt and boast Mach 1 grass, a state-of-the-art Bermudagrass.

Seeding is expected to place in early April, with July 4 slated as the grand re-opening of the golf course.

“We’re going to redo all the bulkheads (Nos. 17 and 8) and add bulkheads on 4 and 16,” Skrivanos said. “They are going to be polished and manicured and look better than they did the day the club opened. The work is going to be exhaustive, extensive and comprehensive.”

Skrivanos expects the club to put a cap on the number of golf members at a little more than 500.

“We’re not going to have it to where you can’t get a tee time,” Skrivanos said. “We don’t need many more golfers to make it work financially.”

The golf course isn’t the only focus of the member/owners. Members have gone wild for pickleball as four courts recently opened at the club. More improvements, including the possible addition of more pickleball courts, are on the table for the racquet sports facility.

However, there is no question the calling card for the club will be its golf course.

“It’s really going to be elegant,” Skrivanos said. “It’s going to be the best golf course in Northwest Louisiana. It’s going to be really special.”