St. Rose Driving Range and Sports Club officially closed its Airline Highway doors for good earlier this month, with buckets of golf balls being driven down its fields for the last time on August 3.
The golf venue was originally opened in 2005 by Destrehan-based entrepreneur husband and wife team Bruce and Lorna Bourgeois, one of several businesses the couple operated together. Owner Lorna Bourgeois decided to close the driving range following the June 6 passing of her husband Bruce, whom she shared 49 years of marriage with.
“I decided that I could not continue doing this by myself,” Bourgeois said regarding her recent decision to close the business.
She and her husband operated multiple businesses for decades, including a fabrication shop, driving range, reception hall and various real estate interests.
“It takes a lot of teamwork and dedication,” Bourgeois said, of the years she and her husband spent running their various business entities. “It’s not a [nine to five] job; it’s [all day], seven days a week.”
Other than local country clubs situated inside St. Charles Parish, the driving range remained for years one of few golf-focused businesses in St. Charles Parish. It was a business she said her husband thoroughly enjoyed due to the direct interaction he had with regular golfing customers, as well as the various celebrities that occasionally stopped in to work on their golf swing.
“All kinds of people came through [the driving range], not just the local people,” Bourgeois said. “We had movie stars that [visited the driving range since] down the street there was a [movie] studio, football players, all kinds of public figures…it was a fun little business, really, really fun.”
The driving range had given the Bourgeois family their share of challenges over the years, particularly with hurricane and storm damage. The driving range lost its massive golf netting on three separate occasions from various storms it suffered.
Hurricane Ida damage to the property had been particularly difficult to navigate, as Bourgeois and her husband were forced to hire an attorney in order to secure payment for their hurricane damages from their insurance carrier.
“We finally won the case, but it was not enough money to actually build the driving range back the way it used to be,” Bourgeois explained.
To insure the large, expensive netting poles from future hurricane damage in the current insurance environment would have been cost-prohibitive. Bourgeois handled the financials for their various businesses while her husband focused on the day-to-day management. She and her husband had begun discussing the possibility of selling the driving range right before he passed.
Given the driving range sat on 10 acres of prime commercial property along Airline Highway, a new buyer for the property has already been found. Bourgeois said the property sale was currently in the process of being finalized, although she was not yet at liberty to discuss the buyer in detail as of press time. She did disclose the new owner did not plan to continue to use the property as a driving range.
As the business prepared to close last month, Bourgeois shared that some of the driving range’s regulars asked to keep small mementos to remember their favorite golfing spot by, such as pieces of wood from the old building, or a piece of the bar or a chair used at the driving range.
Bourgeois said she appreciated her loyal customers for “all their support throughout the years; a lot of them called that place home.”