Coast and its courses have bounced back from Katrina
By Rusty Hampton
Forgive panelist Tommy Snell if he’s a bit biased, but the Perkinston resident is bullish on golf on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Like many other things on the Coast, golf courses were damaged and/or nearly destroyed when Hurricane Katrina roared ashore on Aug. 29, 2005. The golfing industry took a huge hit.
But as much of the Coast has rebounded or is in the process of doing so, golf has bounced back, too.
“Golf on the Mississippi Gulf coast has left Katrina and the recession in its wake,” said Snell. “People are flooding to the courses because the recognize the quality of golf and the value for that excellence.”
When our panel answered the question of “Best Place for Golf in Mississippi,” several replied: “Anywhere on the Gulf Coast.”
That’s music to the ears of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Golf Association, a non-profit organization that promotes golf in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties. There are more than a dozen golf courses in a 60-mile stretch, several with ocean views and all within a short drive of the Gulf Coast hotels, casinos, fishing and restaurants.
The Gulf Coast’s moderate winters make it another option for Northern golfers looking for a place to get out of the cold and play golf at several different courses in one trip.
The website features 10 courses: Diamondhead (Cardinal and Pine courses), the Jack Nicklaus-designed Grand Bear in Saucier, Great Southern in Gulfport (Mississippi’s oldest course, and a Donald Ross layout), Hickory Hill in Gautier, Shell Landing in Gautier, Sunkist in Biloxi, The Bridges Golf Club at Hollywood Casino in Bay St. Louis, The Oaks in Pass Christian, the Preserve in Van Cleave and Windance in Gulfport.
In the last 20 years, said Snell, the addition of The Bridges, Grand Bear, Shell Landing, The Oaks, The Preserve and Fallen Oaks, along with renovations at Great Southern, Windance and Hickory Hill, “have elevated the Mississippi Gulf Coast to one of the top golf destinations in the United States.”
In choosing the Gulf Coast as a top location for golf in the state, Champions Tour golfer Jim Gallagher Jr. said, simply: “There’s more activities than anywhere else.”
Says Snell: “For golfers, it’s a buffet of manicured Bermuda, Southern hospitality and warm scenery.”