Post pandemic golf travel has never been more accessible and memorable, golf in Mississippi is a year-round treasure of joyful golf experiences.
Recently I had the pleasure of visiting one of the premier destinations for an optimal golfing experience. This adventure was particularly important for me. Mass media narratives had long described the social overtones and political arena of this area in ways that would give minority golfers pause when considering golf excursions to five-star resorts that had historically catered solely to the majority culture. As a publication whose readers are primarily people of color, I was concerned about the reception brown and black golfers would receive in the very “Deep South.” I was overwhelmingly pleasantly surprised.
An absolute must is that the hotel and course you select makes you feel welcome and happy to have you as a guest. After spending time in scenic southern and central Mississippi, it is hard to imagine that any of the other 49 states could boast of a more pleasurable destination for a golfing vacation. I began my week in Mississippi at the southernmost shore along the Gulf of Mexico and then leisurely played my way up and through to the central northern region of the Magnolia State.
The place one chooses to stay should ideally reflect comfort, convenience and luxury, while providing guests with all the pleasures of home. That accurately describes the majestic Beau Rivage Resort and Casino that is situated at Mississippi’s most southern tip. Says Mary Cracchioli Spain, Director of Public Relations Beau Rivage Resort and Casino, “Beau Rivage features over 1700 rooms and suites with breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico and unmatched amenities, including a full-service spa, 24-hour gaming, and seafood that is caught in the morning and prepared fresh for its guests the same day. We are giving joy to the discriminating pallet unmatched anywhere.
Beau Rivage’s Fallen Oak Golf Course, which is exclusively for Beau Rivage guests, does not disappoint. Despite having hosted numerous Senior PGA and amateur events, there is no reason to fear its challenging layout. The Tom Fazio-designed track offers a unique challenge for all golfing levels, the 18-hole par-72 layout provides the memorable golf experience one would expect from golf in Mississippi: towering oaks, pristine wetlands, beautiful landscaping, and a postcard view on every hole.
Actually my first stop was the beautiful, nature-preserved Shell Landing Golf Club in Gautier. Designed by Davis Love III, this 18-hole par-72, 7000+ yards course is set among beautiful marshes, towering trees, and rolling terrain, making this one of the most challenging and picturesque golf experiences in the U.S. Golfers of all skill levels can enjoy the course with multiple tees and varying hole lengths. This is a “must-play” destination for golf enthusiasts visiting Mississippi.
No “bucket list” is complete without the experience of playing 18-holes at Grand Bear Course, a world-class golf course located in Saucier, Mississippi. This Jack Nicklaus designed course lives up to its name and one should take care of the punch delivered by its name. Not to fear however, golfers of all levels are welcome, and the challenge is pure, delivered by 18 great holes of beauty, risks and rewards. The lush green fairways are surrounded by towering trees and natural water features, creating a serene and picturesque setting. In addition to the golf course, Grand Bear also offers a full-service restaurant and bar for the most discriminating taste.
A most unique and heartwarming experience for me was my brief visit to the Pearl River Resort, located approximately 200 miles north of Gautier and operated by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians in Choctaw, Mississippi. Pearl River Resort blends luxury, entertainment and world-class golfing into one unforgettable destination that boasts of two luxurious hotels and multiple dining options and offers a variety of amenities and attractions including a luxury spa and three bustling casinos (the Silver Star, Golden Moon and sister property Bok Homa) where guests can indulge in blackjack, slot machines and other games while enjoying live entertainment and concerts. The Resort’s “crown jewel” is the Dancing Rabbit Golf Club which is home to Jerry Pate and Tom Fazio’s beautifully designed Azaleas and Oaks golf courses, both of which offer challenging holes for beginners and experienced golfers. The Azaleas course has hosted the PGA Tour’s Viking Classic and was named by Golf Digest as one of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses. The Oaks (also named to the top 100) has been praised for its wide fairways, large greens and stunning water features. These magnificent properties are undergirded by the proud and resilient sovereign nation of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, who are one of the largest employers in the state of Mississippi.
Moving through Mississippi’s central triangle region is the town of West Point, home to the famous Mossy Oak Golf Club–a stunning links-style course offering an unparalleled experience for golfers at all skill levels. Designed by Gil Hanse, Mossy Oak features rolling hills, natural hazards and strategically placed bunkers, and was in 2016 named by Golf Digest as the third-best new course in America. Its welcoming clubhouse has a full-service restaurant, bar, pro shop and locker rooms. The course also provides overnight cottage accommodations for those who wish to enjoy multiple play dates, available whether one prefers a challenging round of golf or a relaxing day taking in breathtaking views of the beautiful Mississippi countryside. A hop and a skip down the way is Old Waverly Golf Club and Restaurant, a premier destination for those seeking premier golf and fine cuisine. Their 18-hole championship golf course, designed by Bob Cupp and Jerry Pate, is known for its challenging layout and beautiful scenery with rolling hills, pristine lakes and lush greenery. The club also offers a range of amenities, including a pro shop, practice facilities and luxurious accommodation for staying overnight.
The Old Waverly dining experience is beyond description. Their menu features a variety of Southern-inspired dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Guests can enjoy everything from upscale options like filet mignon and seared scallops to classic comfort food such as fried chicken, collard greens, and macaroni and cheese. If you are looking for a relaxing, fine dining experience during your getaway, Old Waverly Golf Club and Restaurant is the perfect destination.
To say that I enjoyed my Magnolia State golfing adventure would be a gross understatement—the top–shelf accommodations, unrivaled cuisine, premier golf courses and incredible scenery are experiences I will never forget. My final word? The Magnolia State welcomes ALL golfers and interested persons to its beautiful land and shores, beautiful golf venues and to interact with its beautiful people. Merci, Mississippi!
For details on your next trip to Mississippi, contact: www.VisitMississippi.org/golf Or any of the following for location specific assistance: