The first of the renowned City Park golf
courses opened in 1902 and many times over
the years these beautiful courses have won
distinction as some of the most picturesque
to be found anywhere in the world.
If recent reports are true, the City Park
golf courses may be offering up more than
great golfing: They may also be among the
most haunted in the world.
reports are as vivid as those recounted
by players who have encountered
the apparition at the 18th green
of the famous East Course. These
tell of the apparition of an older,
white haired man, who, once again,
is "just standing there"
watching as the golfers complete
their play on the 18th hole.
The perfectly manicured greens and fairways
of the old courses are lined with the overgrowth
of high grass and tangled palmetto bushes
smothering the gnarled, fern-encrusted limbs
of ancient oak trees. There are bayous meandering
the entire length of some fairways, pooling
in the magnolia shadows where only an occasional
insect or lone alligator disturbs the glassy,
green surface. Early morning foursomes can
breathe the fragrant air still heavy with
the scent of jasmine and wild honeysuckle,
and late evening players can relax under the
crimson of a Southern sunset as night steals
from the darkness of the trees and blankets
the fairways in silence. Despite the fact
that the City Park courses lie in the heart
of the great buzz of New Orleans, all remains
tranquil on these verdant fields.
But recently, some golfers are hurrying through
their games, sometimes opting to "play
nine" instead of the full 18. Some golfers
are avoiding the peaceful shade under the
spreading oak trees, even with heat indexes
in the one hundred plus range. And when they
stop to chat, or to grab a "cool one"
from the ice chest in the golf cart, they're
not just talking about who's shooting par
anymore: They're telling each other and anyone
who'll listen about strange encounters they
have had lately out on the old courses, and
the talk turns to the recent sightings of
a chilling apparition haunting the 18th green
of the famous East Course.
telling each other and anyone
who'll listen about strange encounters
they have had lately out on the
old courses, and the talk turns
to the recent sightings of a chilling
apparition haunting the 18th green
of the famous East Course.
Golfers on the secluded "Little Course,"
the southmost of the old courses, have recently
been re-telling a story of a haunting first
reported years ago in which the entire series
of events that led to the shooting of a woman
golfer seems to be reenacted in the still
Golfers report hearing the muffled
voices of two females playing ahead of them;
some report being a little surprised by this
when they thought themselves to be the earliest
golfers on the course. The sound of a solid
drive is clearly heard through the trees, followed
by pleased laughter and commentary from what
sounds like two ladies. The reverie turns bad
immediately, however, when the sharp "crack"
of a gunshot is heard, followed by a woman's
scream of "I'm hit!"
South Course golfers report having rushed
toward the alarming sounds only to find the
green vacant with no sign of any other golfers,
male or female, around. Sometimes the sounds
are so alarming that police have been dispatched
in response to a worried cellphone caller
who insists that he or she has just heard
the sound of a murder. Occasionally there
is even the report of a shadowy form seen
lying prone on the grass but as alarmed golfers
approach the spectre "vaporizes,"
as one man put it, right before their eyes.
Once I was in the shack clearing
some papers out of one of the
carts. I looked up and there he
was standing inside the doorway,
right by the sunlight. I couldn't
make out his face but he really
looked familiar." In the
above photo you can make out what
appears to resemble Blackie Pustanio
amongs the many Orbs.
Jean H., an old timer on the City Park courses,
tells Haunted New Orleans Tours that she believes
the Little Course is "definitely haunted"
and claims that the ghosts are recreating
an event in the early 1960's when a woman
golfer was hit by a bullet while playing the
City Park South Course.
"No one ever found out why he shot her,"
says Jean, referring to the later arrest of
an unnamed suspect who was apprehended driving
the lanes of the park in a late 1950's maroon
convertible with a .22 caliber rifle on the
seat beside him.
The shooting and subsequent arrest made front
page news on the covers of both the New Orleans
dailies, the Times Picayune and the States-Item,
but this didn't assuage the fear of golfers
on other fairways who peered nervously into
the shady rough wondering if they might be
In a strange 1980's follow-up to this shooting,
the son of one of the investigating officers
was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot
wound to the head on the very same South Course
green where the woman had been shot years
When the City Park courses changed hands
several years ago, alterations were made to
the old South Course and no one can be certain
now which hole is the exact location of the
shooting and later suicide.
But more recent reports by local golfers
have added a strange twist to this old haunting:
a new phantom.
Several alarmed golfers have reported not
only the familiar, oft-heard sounds of women
laughing and the inevitable gunshot, but there
have also been accounts by eye-witnesses who
have seen a man, or the figure of a man, in
"He's sort of medium height and thin
with really dark hair," recounted one
very alarmed female golfer. "He had very
intense features; he was standing looking
down at the green when I was walking toward
him. As I got closer he looked up and shook
his head and then just disappeared!"
Naturally, this was very alarming and because
the old story had a new aspect, police had
to treat it as an entirely new event. Once
again, as they did so many years ago, police
are responding to calls on the South Course
and are making searches of the area, stopping
golfers who bear any resemblance to the strange
new phantom reported lurking about the scene.
There is an element of believability to all
these reports because this man, real or phantom,
has been seen walking on other courses or
standing in the shade of the old oaks just
watching as golfers daily play through.
Pictured with his most prized possession,
and one that any fan of the game
would treasure, is the legendary
Harry Cooper's winning golf ball
from the 1938 Inaugural New Orleans
Open. Blackie caddied for Cooper
throughout the Open and was so pleased
with his caddy's fine guidance that
he paid him handsomely and gave
him the winning ball mounted as
a permanent possession.
"He was just standing there,"
one golfer told a City Park police officer.
"I mean he didn't threaten us or anything,
but, I don't know -- I guess it made us uncomfortable,
him following us around like that." The
golfer then related that when he and a friend
approached the stranger, "he was gone."
The shadowy man had simply vanished.
But no reports are as vivid as those recounted
by players who have encountered the apparition
at the 18th green of the famous East Course.
These tell of the apparition of an older,
white haired man, who, once again, is "just
standing there" watching as the golfers
complete their play on the 18th hole.
"If there's nothing happening
on that green, it looks like he likes to watch
the guys on the putting green," said one
But encounters with this ghost are not limited
to the greens and fairways. The shadowy apparition
has been seen inside the old clubhouse as
well, and these sightings provide the first
real clues as to who this apparition might
"I've seen him a few times," says
David B., a long-time City Park employee whose
job in the maintenance areas of the old clubhouse
often keeps him late. "Once I was in
the shack clearing some papers out of one
of the carts. I looked up and there he was
standing inside the doorway, right by the
sunlight. I couldn't make out his face but
he really looked familiar."
David has seen the phantom inside the clubhouse
as well, and one encounter convinced him that
he knew exactly who the ghost might be.
"I was coming from the men's locker
room. The clubhouse was closed and only me
and one kitchen employee were still here,
and SHE was outside having a smoke at the
time. I looked into the old pro workshop as
I passed it, which was closed and locked at
the time, and there he was, with a club in
one hand and a cloth in the other. He was
shining the head on that nine iron, just like
I saw him do a hundred times."
David says that when he looked back again,
the ghost looked up squarely into his face
and glared at him, before disappearing into
thin air. "I wasn't afraid," David
said, "I mean he looked at everyone like
that when he was busy working! But I can tell
you I know who that is, I said to myself 'That's
Blackie!' And nobody's going to tell me different!"
The man David is referring to is Eddie "Blackie"
Pustanio, known to local golf historians and
afficionados as one of the best golfers ever
to come out of the Crescent City.
"Blackie" Pustanio was born and
grew up, as he described it, "only a
five-iron from the course," at City Park,
and got his start working in the clubhouse
pro-shop and caddying for some of the golfing
greats of his era, such as, Ben Hogan, Sam
Snead, and the most famous winner of the New
Orleans Open, Harry Cooper.
"Golf was Blackie's life," says
Jean H., when asked to relate her memories
of Pustanio. "He lived it everyday. He
was so talented at what he did. Not only was
he a skilled craftsman but he was a hell of
a player, too!"
He rose through the ranks and
distinguished himself as one of the shining
stars of the local golf scene. He taught and
played golf on the City Park courses from the
1930's until his retirement around 1996. In
his youth, however, Pustanio served City Park
as an assistant professional, and ultimately
rose to the rank of head pro before taking over
the direction of the repair and refurbishment
"He was a skilled club maker,"
says David B. "Ben Hogan wouldn't let
anyone else touch his clubs to repair them
except for Blackie. He'd ship them down here
and Blackie would lock them up in the pro
shop like the crown jewels!"
Pustanio once went head to head in a "putting
duel" with the legendary Arnold Palmer.
As Blackie told the New Orleans States-Item
at the time, " I played him for $100
in 1960 because a lot of people regarded me
as one of the best putters around. Well, we
went around nine holes twice and after, we
were tied ... But by then the crowd was so
big we had to break it up."
One of Blackie's most prized possessions,
and one that any fan of the game would treasure,
is the legendary Harry Cooper's winning golf
ball from the 1938 Inaugural New Orleans Open.
Blackie caddied for Cooper throughout the
Open and was so pleased with his caddy's fine
guidance that he paid him handsomely and gave
him the winning ball mounted as a permanent
Blackie kept the mounted Cooper ball for
many years and proudly displayed it in his
City Park pro shop office along with other
memorabilia and trophies. Upon his retirement
around 1996, Blackie was asked to leave several
items on loan for display in the clubhouse,
and the Cooper ball was among them.
Eddie "Blackie" Pustanio died in
August 2001 and although his wish to be buried
"behind the 18th green" could not
be fulfilled he is, in fact, buried, ironically
"only a five-iron from the course"
in St. Louis Cemetary No. 3. In keeping with
old family traditions, Pustanio was buried
with several of his most prized mementos,
including a hand-carved, hickory-shaft driver
and his beloved mounted Cooper golf ball:
these went into the coffin with him.
Several people think there's something to
the suggestion that Blackie is haunting the
18th green and the fairways he knew all his
life. And a family member is in possession
of a curious bit of what might be called "proof."
David says that when he looked
back again, the ghost looked up
squarely into his face and glared
at him, before disappearing into
thin air. "I wasn't afraid,"
David said, "I mean he looked
at everyone like that when he
was busy working! But I can tell
you I know who that is, I said
to myself 'That's Blackie!' And
nobody's going to tell me different!"
The many Orbs in the Photo suggest
an image or form one . the shape
of a man a face and top rigght
cornor you can make out what appears
to be Blackie fixing a club.
Just last month, a golfer who hit a ball
into the rough while driving the 18th green
of the old East Course was hacking through
the rough when a gleam in the crux of an oak
tree root caught his eye. He turned the item
in to the clubhouse and the management in
turn contacted a family member of Eddie "Blackie"
Pustanio because the item that had turned
up was the mounted 1938 Inaugural New Orleans
Open winning golf ball that had been given
to Blackie by Harry Cooper AND had been buried
with Pustanio in August 2001 . . .
golf ball is now in the possession
of Pustanio family once more...
Blackie's favorite great-great-grandneice,
Amanda. No one has come forth with
any reasonable explanation as to
how this treasured trophy of an
old golf pro could have found its
way out of the grave and back into
the light of the living. Amanda
is very Proud to have in her hands
this haunted beloved trophy. And
she says that she wishes to follow
in her Great-great grand uncles
footsteps and master the game as
The haunted golf ball is now in the possession
of Pustanio's favorite great-great-grandneice,
Amanda (see sidebar). No one has come forth
with any reasonable explanation as to how
this treasured trophy of an old golf pro could
have found its way out of the grave and back
into the light of the living.
But if you are a fan of the game, and happen
to be playing the old East Course, keep your
eyes open for that dark shadowy figure just
outside the line of sight, watching silently.
And you'd better hope your game is "up
to par," because a real pro is critiquing
you from the Other Side.