Golf courses on the Gulf Coast back in action - now's the time to head south
Now that the weather in the South has cooled from high broil to low simmer, this is the time of year when traveling golfers might be thinking road trip. Fall is a big time of year for warm-weather places such as Myrtle Beach and the Southwest.
Well, dust off that warm and fuzzy part of your cerebral cortex and think post-Halloween all the way to Thanksgiving. What better way to give thanks than to help out an old golf buddy down on his luck? Why not make plans to stay home and eat your turkey, then call up the folks down around Biloxi and book a buddy trip?
The Mississippi Gulf Coast has always been one of my favorite places to visit, mainly because of the combination of the golf, casinos and beaches. I like the way you can drive along the Gulf from Biloxi to Bay St. Louis and find some good golf courses scattered between the saltwater and Interstate-10.
Some of the golf courses actually started re-opening soon after the storm passed. Others, of course, took much longer. But in any case there are at least 20 open now and – a bit of irony here – some are in their best shape ever because golfers have stayed away in droves, thinking the whole coast was down.
Biloxi officials say golf trips are on the upswing, and that's mainly due to the casinos re-opening with plenty of rooms available.
The Beau Rivage Resort and Casino reopened on the first anniversary of Katrina, after a $550 million renovation, providing 1,750 rooms. Seven other casinos have reopened between Biloxi and Bay St. Louis to the west. In all, about 10,000 guest rooms are now available, most of them in casinos.
"People don't know we're back to functioning normally," said Steve Richer, executive director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Golf is certainly coming back. There are places to stay, restaurants to eat in."
Also, two new courses have opened: The Preserve in Ocean Springs, a Jerry Pate-designed public course, and the Beau Rivage-owned Fallen Oak, a Tom Fazio work. It's a public course that extends tee time privileges to casino guests.
In a golf rich town like Scottsdale, Ariz. you'll want to play more than one course a day. Still, you don't want to play Troon North in the morning and Boulders in the afternoon. Cramming $600 worth of golf into one day is like binging on back-to-back French restaurant dinners. This is where second-play-of-the-day courses come in: tracks that are good but not that show-stopping, not that exhausting, not that expensive. These second plays might just make your vacation, Chris Baldwin writes.
'Fairways of Life' author Matt Adams,