10 Mississippi golf courses among tops in the nation

Ten Mississippi golf courses have been rated on par with the best in the nation.

The courses were selected to Golfweek magazines’s “America’s Best Courses You Can Play” list for 2010, doubling the number of Mississippi courses listed by the publication last year.

“Mississippi’s increased number of courses listed reflects the depth of its high-quality layouts,” said Bradley Klein, senior golf course architecture editor for the magazine. “The state’s courses continue to impress our raters.”

To determine the nation’s most deserving layouts, Golfweek dispatched 550 raters across America to examine courses for their overall strength of routing, feature shaping, natural setting, greens, variety, conditioning and maintenance, landscape management and other criteria.

Eight of the ten Mississippi courses cited for distinction by Golfweek are amenities of casino resorts. The Magnolia State is the nation’s third largest gaming destination.

“Our state is honored to have these courses saluted for their excellence and gratified that Golfweek raters think so well of our overall golf course inventory,” said Mary Beth Wilkerson, tourism director for the Mississippi Development Authority. “We hope this critical endorsement further entices travelers to visit Mississippi and discover our wealth of attractions, including golf courses, history, casino resorts, blues and country music trails and many others.”

According to Golfweek, the state’s number one golf course is Fallen Oak.

Opened in 2006, the Tom Fazio-designed course is ranked 19th nationally in Golf Digest’s “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses.” Located in Saucier, the course will host the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic, a Champions TOUR event April 26-May 2.

The second-rated Mississippi golf course is Dancing Rabbit (Azaleas) in Philadelphia. Built upon the ancestral lands of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, the course is nestled among ancient pines and hardwoods and gently embraces rolling hills and valleys.

Grand Bear, which was designed by PGA legend Jack Nicklaus is ranked third.

Also located in Saucier, Grand Bear is known for secluded fairways, deep bunkers and impeccably manicured greens. One Golfweek rater wrote, “this course feels a little like Augusta with all the excitement of a Pinehurst.”

Golfweek’s “America’s Best Courses You Can Play” in Mississippi, with their location and architect:

1. Fallen Oak, Saucier (Tom Fazio)

2. Dancing Rabbit (Azaleas), Philadelphia (Tom Fazio and Jerry Pate)

3. Grand Bear, Saucier (Jack Nicklaus)

4. The Bridges Golf Club at Hollywood Casino, Bay St. Louis (Arnold Palmer)

5. Shell Landing, Gautier (Davis Love III)

6. The Preserve Golf Club, Vancleave (Jerry Pate)

7. Dancing Rabbit (Oaks), Philadelphia (Fazio and Pate)

8. The Oaks, Pass Christian (Landmark)

9. Timberton Golf Club, Hattiesburg (Mark McCumber)

10. Windance Golf Club, Gulfport (McCumber)

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