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Mississippi golf with a Big Easy turn at the bottom.

A Mojo Junket

If you only remember one thing about this trip, remember the Dancing Rabbit. It was developed by a Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. The Dancing Rabbit is a state of the art Casino/Inn, as well as, two magnificent golf courses designed by Tom Fazio and Jerry Pate. The Azalea course opened in 1997 and the Oaks course in 1999. This development is well off the beaten path, near Philadelphia Mississippi, but it is worth the drive. For a full report on this Mojo Junket read on. Other courses reviewed include Kirkwood National, Quail Hollow, Belle Terre, Pass Christian Isles, Timberton, and Highland Rim.


Monday, 3/5/01Weather: 50 degrees, Sunny but 10-20 knot wind
The course was deserted. Probably because everyone in Mississippi and Memphis knows that this course is all brown until much later in the year. They have Bermuda fairways, and Champion Bermuda greens that are still just brown dormant grass. The course was wet, but the greens were hard and fast. They are building roads and houses on the front side so it's only a matter of time until this becomes a subdivision course. It is, however, a nice layout and not easy in a 20 knot wind. Moe had 45-49-94 and Joyce went 57-55-112. The match ended all square after Moe was dormie, 2 and 2. Speaking of dormant, if you don't like to see brown goIf courses, I would avoid this course November through April. I think it might be nice in the heat of summer. We stayed that night in Tupelo, the birthplace of Elvis Presley. We ate at 502 Glouster, which is as fine as dining gets in Tupelo.


Tuesday, 3/6/01 Weather: Sunny and 55 degrees light NW wind
On Monday at Kirkwood National I was in the pro shop making it clear how badly I hated their brown greens when I mentioned that the wife and I were moving on to the Dancing Rabbit on Tuesday. The pro shop fellow assured me that the Dancing Rabbit greens would be green and it would be the best course I've ever played. He was a young man, so I just smiled and thanked him. The Dancing Rabbit Oaks Course is very nice. I played it in early March after a very cold winter so I can't say it's the nicest course I've ever played. I also didn't hit the ball very well. I had a frustrating day of 45-45-90. Joyce went 58-54-112 and beat me 2 and 1. The course has bent grass greens which is strange for Mississippi. They have some magic sub air system that circulates air around the roots of the grass to keep it alive during the sweltering summer. In March they looked great. The greens recorded a 10 on the stemp meter. I know this because they boasted on a big sign at the #1 tee. They also told me about pin placements, and to keep my cart on the path at all times. This made sense because the course was very wet from recent rains. The course was well marked and well kept. It is owned and operated by the Choctaw Indians. When we caught a five- some of locals that had stopped to converse with the refreshment cart girls, they waved us right through. We played in four hours. If you are ever in Mississippi, don't miss the Dancing Rabbit!
After golf we spent the night in Jackson, the capitol of Mississippi. We had some fine Red Snapper at Dennerys.


Wednesday, 3/7/01 Weather: Sunny, 68 degrees- very little wind, a perfect day for golf
Quail Hollow is an Arthur Hills design located in Percy Quinn State Park, McComb Mississippi. Since it is my goal to play all 161 courses designed by Arthur Hills, I was looking forward to playing the only Arthur Hills design in Mississippi. I may write the Arthur Hills organization because Quail Hollow Management is not treating the course as a golf digest 4-star course should be treated. The day we played, carts were to be kept on the paths due to wet conditions. I seemed to be the only one abiding by that rule! I also noticed, as I searched the piney woods for golf balls, that the woods were full of trash. The Bozo factor at Quail Hollow is high. I believe the state of Mississippi could do a better job of controlling the under dressed bozos that I saw on their course. The good news is, I hit the ball much better. I putted pretty well on the Tifdwarf grass greens that were smooth, but only medium speed. I think smooth and not too fast is what I crave. I had 6 pars and 3 bogies on the front to turn at 39. I came in at 42 to card an 81. That should have been good enough to win, but my lovely wife picked this day to break 100 for the 1st time in life. She had a 99 and beat me 3 and 2. Quail Hollow is not the toughest Arthur Hills course I've played, but it is a nice design with no houses in sight and deserves better treatment than it is getting. We played the back 9 with Terry. He was camping in the park with his wife. They were from Washington State and haven't been home much in several years. They tour the US in one of those RV's that is as big as a Greyhound Bus. My daughter calls them Alaska RV's.
After golf, we crossed into Louisiana and stayed in Hammond. We did this because we had read about a restaurant owned by a retired French chef and wanted to try it. Michabelles is an Inn and restaurant *** worth looking for.


Thursday, 3/8/01 Weather - Sunny, 65 degrees and light wind
Belle Terre is a subdivision course built on a swamp. There are no scenic views. The layout is not bad and the course is not easy. It is not a course worth driving a long way to play. I took an early lead on the wife because she was unable to make solid contact with the ball for the 1st few holes. By the turn I was 3 up. She did better on the back, but I won 4 and 3. I had 43-42-85. Joyce went 60-53-113. The greens are the most memorable thing about Belle Terre. They were small, smooth, and very fast.
After our round we drove into New Orleans and checked in. As we researched for a place to eat in a city with so many great places to eat, we became overwhelmed with the guidebooks warnings about thieves and lack of parking in the Big Easy. I found Gabrielle's, which is out by the Fairgrounds racetrack, and we gave it a try. Since we went to the track on Friday (the next day), we also went back to Gabrielle's. In the city of great restaurants we only visited one, but we're not sorry. Four stars ****


Saturday, 3/10/01 Weather: Partly cloudy, high of 60 degrees with light wind
We left New Orleans early. I had lost confidence at the Fairgrounds racetrack so it was time to move on. We came over to the Mississippi Gulf Coast and had trouble finding a place to play on a Saturday. Pass Christian Isles is an older subdivision course built in the 50's. You can tell by the tiny greens. I do not believe Tiger Woods could hit these greens consistently, even though he would be using an 8 iron when I was hitting my 7 wood. The greens were not fast, just very small. The wife once again started very slowly, which gave me a big lead. I was 5 up at the turn after shooting a 42 to her 59. She played much better on the back, but I won 4 and 3 to square the trip at 2 wins each. We played with Steve, who lives on the course, and his son-in-law David. David and Steve's daughter live on Manhattan Island in New York City. There are many golf courses on the Mississippi Gulf Coast better than this. The Oaks, which is just up the road, would be my first choice.
We ate that night at Vrazel's which is right across the street from one of those giant gulf coast casinos. The food was OK. This seems like a good time to point out some BOZO factors for restaurants trying to provide Fine Dining. At a good restaurant you will never be asked to keep any silverware you have left on a plate that is being removed from the table. They will bring you another knife. They will not serve a baked potato in aluminum foil. The cream for your coffee will not come in plastic. In fact you should not see any plastic in a fine dining establishment. You will of course pay more for fine dining, but at Vrazel's you will pay for fine dining and not get it.

Timberton Golf Course - Hattiesburg, MS

Sunday, 3/11/01 Weather: Mostly sunny, light wind, high of 62 degrees
We arrived early for our 12:20 tee time, but got out right away by being paired up with Don and Jerry. It was good to have them since it turned out to be a 5-½ hour round! At least we had a couple of friendly strangers from Michigan to talk to while we waited on every tee. Timberton is a subdivision course, but the houses are real nice and well out of play. I don't remember ever being next to another fairway, and we had some lengthy drives from the green to tee. The Bermuda fairways were beginning to green up, which was nice. The large greens were bikini waxed which added to my problems. I kept the ball in play and went 42-45-87. Joyce was 56-57-113. I beat her 4 and 3 to take a 3 to 2 lead for the trip. If you are ever in Hattiesburg, Timberton is the play to play.


Tuesday, 3/13/01 Weather: Sunny, 55 degrees with wind gusts to 35 mph
On Monday it rained buckets in Starksville, Mississippi where we were scheduled to play. We just drove on up to Clarksville, Tennessee to visit Steve and June. I was in their wedding back in 1964. She's a real nice person and he's a real good golfer. Steve had us set up to play Highland Rim on Tuesday with Jim Kirkley, the course designer and superintendent. Jim ordered us a nice sunny day, but he forgot to turn down the wind. I don't remember a bright sunny day with that much wind. On 15th green the wind blew Joyce's ball away before she could putt it.
I was trying to beat or tie Joyce to win honors for the trip. I played OK except for the 2 triple bogies on the back to make me 42-44-86 on the par 71 course. Joyce had Steve coaching her and had 5 pars on the back to go 50-46-96 and break 100 for the second time in life, as well as, the second time this week! She beat me 5 and 4 to even the trip at 3 and 3. I believe her handicap is going down. We were then sprinting for home when we recalled the empty pantry awaiting us. It was no problem since Hometown Pizza in Bloomfield has good pizzas and ice cold Bud Light.
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