Beyond the Coast, Virtually All Courses Are Open for Play; Golf-And-Gaming Remain Surprisingly Strong; Several Coastal Courses Could Open as Soon as Two Weeks
(JACKSON, Mississippi) – The Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) Division of Tourism today announces that although it is far from finalizing the process of assessing the impact of Hurricane Katrina, based on extensive reports there appear to be minimal damage to the golf course properties outside the state’s Gulf Coast. Furthermore, several of the coastal golf courses – Davis Love III designed Shell Landing and Mississippi National, for example – could open as soon as next month.
"While we are emotionally devastated for our residents, visitors and businesses that Hurricane Katrina wreaked so much havoc and tragedy on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, we will rebuild our lives and are going forward already," says D. Craig Ray, MDA Tourism Division director. "We are still assessing the vast impact of Katrina, and there appears to be good news beyond the coast with no significant structural damage to most of our courses. We anticipate that those that have not already opened will do so very soon. The Gulf Coast will take longer to recover, of course, but some of the courses will re-open soon there. Meanwhile, the rest of the state continues to welcome and support visitors and misplaced residents. We’ve been surprised how strong the golf-and-gaming stay-and-play business has been in the four other regions of the state since Katrina and this is good for the state and its people and businesses."
Nearly 10,000 rooms and hundreds of golf rounds have been booked, including many moved from the Gulf Coast golf courses and casinos, at casinos, resorts and golf courses in the state’s other four regions since Katrina.
For instance, Tunica, which is located less than 30 minutes from Memphis in northernmost Mississippi and boasts nine Las Vegas-style casinos, has been taking on an influx of visitors since Katrina. This is logical given Tunica is the largest gaming destination in the U.S. between Vegas and Atlantic City. There are several high-quality golf courses in the area, including Tunica National, Riverbend Links and Cottonwoods.
DeSoto County just northeast of Tunica is also experiencing a spike in golf and other tourism visits. A stone’s throw from Memphis, DeSoto County is home to several fine golf courses, including The Club at North Creek, Cherokee Valley, Wedgewood and Plantation.
Casinos, golf clubs, Civil War attractions, Birthplace of the Blues and Elvis, and other tourism draws unique to Mississippi in Vicksburg and other MS towns away from the coast are all hosting visitors and providing Mississippi’s warm and inimitable Southern hospitality.
Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, for example, is home to one of the nation’s finest golf courses and was rated No. 94 by Golf Digest in its list of "America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses 2005-06." Dancing Rabbit’s Azaleas Course was rated No. 70 in Golf Digest’s "America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses 2005-06."
Old Waverly was site of Juli Inkster’s 1999 U.S. Women’s Open championship and it will host the USGA’s 2006 Women’s Mid-Amateur championship next season. Old Waverly has charming on-course cottages that are available for stay-and-play guests and a must-play site for golf connoisseurs.
"Of course we don’t consider Katrina anything but an immense natural disaster; however, if there is something good to be said it includes that the Mississippi’s other four regions and their unique, high-quality attractions are in the spotlight," says Tourism Division director Ray.
Many, other top-notch casino resorts and golf clubs throughout the state are welcoming visitors who had been scheduled to stay-and-play on the Gulf Coast, including the highly regarded Pearl River Resort in Philadelphia, home to spectacular Dancing Rabbit Golf Club, with its 36-hole, award-winning courses designed by Tom Fazio and Jerry Pate.
That Mississippi continues to be a great golf state ready now to provide unforgettable golf experiences is best demonstrated by the many courses and other tourism attractions cited previously, and by the PGA Tour’s renewed commitment to hold an annual stop in the state. This year’s Southern Farm Bureau Classic will be held Oct.31 – Nov. 6 at Annandale Country Club in Madison, a Jack Nicklaus course design. The PGA Tour has been playing an event in Mississippi for decades and past winners include many legends of the game. Recent victors and fan favorites include Fred Funk and Luke Donald.
"Without a doubt we have been handed as extreme a challenge of rebuilding on the Gulf Coast as imaginable," Tourism Division director Ray says. "But Mississippi is a great state with great people, and already we’re welcoming golf, gaming and other tourists to the rest of the state. This will help the state and the state in turn will be better equipped to help the Gulf Coast and its residents affected by Katrina the more visitors we host. So the best thing we can and will do is to keep keeping on. We want visitors to come see why Mississippi is a special place and judge for themselves why Mississippi is considered a rising star of the golf-and-gaming world."
About Mississippi Golf
Attractions contributing to Mississippi’s growing popularity as the preferred golf-and-travel destination include:
* Great year-round weather and direct flights from major carriers;
* More than 140 courses that offer all price points and design varieties in five distinct regions;
* New and existing courses designed by top golf course architects that garner national recognition;
* More affordable courses than most other comparable U.S. golf destinations;
* World-famous gourmet cuisine, blues music, and luxurious casino resorts offering star-studded shows;
* Family-themed attractions offering everything from parks and beaches;
* Widespread acclaim from the annual PGA Tour golf tournament held n the state capital, Jackson; and,
* History and architecture, including stunning Antebellum Era mansions turned award-winning B&B venues.
In addition to being annually acclaimed for its great golf courses and other tourism attractions, Mississippi has collected a slew of distinctions recently. For instance, Golf Digest, Golfweek and Golf magazines have previously rated Magnolia Golf Trail courses as some of the best in the South. A collection of 14 premier, critically-acclaimed golf courses designed by many of the game’s top architects and launched in 2002, the Magnolia Golf Trail is rapidly gaining recognition as one of the nation’s finest and most value-laden golf trails. For more information about the trail, visit www.MagnoliaGolfTrail.com.
A free Golf Mississippi Travel Guide and more information is available by calling 1-866-801-8551 or visiting www.visitmississippi.org.