The late Sir Winston Churchill, England’s cigar-chomping prime minister, once compared playing golf to chasing a quinine pill around a cow pasture.

Tunica National Golf Club

Tunica National Golf Club

Whether you’re a PGA Tour professional or a weekend hacker, most golfers can relate to Mr. Churchill’s blunt assessment of a sport that has brought Tiger Woods to his knees more than once.

Many golf historians trace golf’s origins back to Scotland, where the game was called Pagancia and played in an open field with a bent stick and leather ball filled with feathers. Long before The Golf Channel and  Golf Digest, there were written reports of golf that go back as far as 1457, when King James II and the parliament of Scotland banned “golfe.” It seems Jimmy Deuce decided its popularity threatened archery practice for his warriors.

However, let’s digress and go back to the future.

With the economy still mired in a slump, some critics want to talk about the sad plight of the golf industry. They say many course designers on the national level are said to be playing the game rather than plotting new holes and hazards.

Not so fast, bogey-breath.

There is likely no better place in the world to conduct business than on the golf course.

Business executives around the world know that walking a beautiful track with Titanium driver in hand on a chamber of commerce, picture-perfect day is the optimum environment to close the big deal.

Like business, golf is a numbers game. Sure, you play it for fun, enjoy the camaraderie of friends and being outdoors. But golfers are competitive in their own way. It doesn’t matter if your name is Fred Couples or Joe Sixpack, making par and shooting a respectable score is the object, lest you find yourself buying the first round at the 19th hole.

But golf is not an easy game. As most players can attest, it’s a beautifully maddening sport that teases you with hints of perfection then slaps you back down — often on the same day, even on the same hole.

According to statistics from the National Golf Foundation, the average score on an 18-hole regulation course is 98. Only 5 percent of players break 80 and about 20 percent get under 90.

That leaves three out of four golfers shooting 90 or higher.

Now, don’t you feel better?

In our second-annual unscientific web poll, readers of the Mississippi Business Journal left little doubt about their choice for Mississippi’s favorite golf course.

Drum roll, please.

And the winner is … the immaculate track at Tunica National Golf Club, which finished fifth in the inaugural MBJ poll last year.

The 2010 poll champion Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point finished second, with Timberton, Azaleas at Dancing Rabbit and The Dogwoods at Hugh White State Park rounding out the 2011 MBJ Reader’s Choice “Mississippi’s Favorite Golf Courses.”


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