Sunday, January 1, 2006
Follow the course - Rich trails of Louisiana, Alabama and MississippiThe Gulf Coast region of Alabama, Louisiana and the state we learned to spell phonetically—M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I—may not be the first place you’d think of for a golfing trip, but the more you learn about what it has to offer, the more you realize what a viable choice it is. The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama, the Audubon Golf Trail in Louisiana and the Golf Coast Golf Trail in Mississippi are wonderful golfing venues that feature courses designed by some of the greatest architects and players in the game. They include Jones, Donald Ross, Pete Dye, Arnold Palmer, David Toms, Hal Sutton and Davis Love III. Add to that great culture, great food, great music and Southern hospitality, and you have one unforgettable golf vacation.
Take the aspects that enhance the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. A Scottish-style course with more than 150 pot bunkers. Another course where water comes into play on 12 holes. A monstrous 701-yard par-5. Holes with 200-foot elevation drops. Courses with names like The Heartbreaker, The Backbreaker and The Mindbreaker. Rolling fairways. Huge pine trees. In all, there are 378 holes at eight locations throughout the state. A ninth site, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at The Shoals, in Florence, Ala. as well as Ross Bridge, a 10th site located in Hoover, Ala., have recently been added. Green fees start at $35 and rarely rise above $57, plus tax.
“The green fees are one of the great values in golf,” says Barbara Thomas, vice president of advertising and marketing for the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. “The courses are very challenging and memorable.”
The Audubon Golf Trail in Louisiana—named after John James Audubon, the famous naturalist and artist who painted 80 birds of America during his time in Louisiana—also has plenty to offer. There’s the native terrain of bayous and wetlands. Cypress trees that are 400 to 500 years old. Golf courses cut out of sugar plantations. The new TPC of Louisiana at Fairfield. The nine locations have 171 holes full of challenges. Plus, there’s nearby New Orleans. As they say, it’s a true sportsman’s paradise.
In Mississippi, the Golf Coast Golf Trail has 26 miles of diversity that run near or along the Gulf of Mexico. There are old courses like Great Southern Golf Club, which Ross designed in 1908, and modern courses like The Bridges Golf Club at Casino Magic, which Palmer opened in 1997. Kevin Drum, executive director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Golf Association, says the variety of old and new courses makes this area different.
“We have courses that are perfect for various budgets and various skill sets,” says Drum. “We have short courses, inexpensive courses and championship courses.”
The Trail also has great seafood because of its proximity to the Gulf, as well as a magnificent ratio of 12 casinos to 15 golf courses. “We’re a destination golf trail,” says Drum. “You can find good places to eat, good casinos and good golf courses.”
Truly, the Gulf golf trails are a premier stay-and-play destination. Says Eric Kaspar, administrator for the Audubon Golf Trail, “Golf down here has an old-world feel to it. It stems from the rich culture, our history and the beautiful, natural environs. More important, visitors will enjoy the very warm, very welcoming nature of the people. Southern hospitality flows through in everyone and everything.”
Also, don’t forget the Southern shores, stretching from Gulf Shores, Alabama, all the way to New Orleans. Golf travel aficionados have already dubbed this stretch the next Myrtle Beach, as it seems golf courses continually sprout up each and every year.
So there you have it. The Gulf States are fast becoming a golf destination right along side the nation’s other popular golf hotbeds. Come see for yourself. We know “ya’ll gonna have a great time.”
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