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Published on : Monday, December 21, 2015
Fallen Oak, The Preserve, Grand Bear and Dancing Rabbit’s two courses – Oaks and Azaleas – earned distinction via Golfweek’s “America’s Best Casino Courses” compilation, the 2015 version of which was published last week.
Hundreds of Golfweek raters examine overall strength of routing, feature shaping, natural setting, greens, variety and memorability of holes, conditioning and maintenance, landscape management and other criteria to determine the nation’s best courses.
“Our casino resorts substantially invested in making their golf amenities exceptional,” said Visit Mississippi Golf & Sports Program Manager Janet Leach. “It’s gratifying for these courses to be cited for national distinction and for the state to have so many courses included.”
Fallen Oak (No. 2 ranking) is an amenity of Biloxi’s Beau Rivage Resort and Casino, the ingenious Tom Fazio-designed layout that is both brawny yet requires finesse and discretion from players. Located in Saucier and accessible to guests of the award-winning property, it is the host venue of the PGA Champions Tour’s Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic, held in late March each year. Fallen Oak is known for its immaculate condition, pristine setting and superlative greens. Beau Rivage is an MGM Resorts International property and ranked only behind sister MGM Resorts course Shadow Creek in Las Vegas.
The Preserve Golf Club in Vancleave made one of the largest leaps in this year’s list, jumping eight spots to No. 11. Look for this course – designed by U.S. Open champion Jerry Pate – to crack the top 10 in 2016. Like Fallen Oak, The Preserve is in the Gulf Coast region and an amenity of Palace Resort Casino. Its name pays homage to the course’s location adjacent to a 1,800-acre nature preserve. True to its namesake spirit, The Preserve is a Certified Silver Audubon International Signature Sanctuary course, one of very few in the world to receive this prestigious best-conservation-practices designation.
A Jack Nicklaus Signature Design, Grand Bear is grand in scope, vision and execution. The “Golden Bear,” as Nicklaus is legendarily known, took an amazing parcel of land and crafted a masterpiece that is as popular as it is finely serviced. Carved out of the DeSoto National Forest, Grand Bear is “pure” golf, where nature and the game jive to create an inspired place. An amenity of Harrah’s Gulf Coast Casino, Hotel and Spa, the course meanders through cypress wetlands and is framed by towering pines.
Nestled among the oak forests in the rolling hills of the state’s east central region, Dancing Rabbit Golf Club is an amenity of Pearl River Resort, owned and operated by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. Both the Azaleas and the Oaks courses earned best-of acclaim from Golfweek and were created by Tom Fazio and Jerry Pate. The Oaks Course features Zoysia fairways and Champion Bermuda grass greens, while the Azaleas Course is Bermuda fairways and A4 Bent grass greens. GOLF Magazine tabbed Dancing Rabbit “the Augusta National you can play,” due to the similarities between it and the hallowed home course of The Masters.