Mississippi’s Golf & Blues trip strikes a chord with travellers by combining two of the magnolia state’s greatest assets
By Rick Drennan
Writing: John Grisham and William Faulkner.
Food: Fried pickles and catfish.
Music: The blues.
There are a lot of things that are synonymous with Mississippi.
Now, you can add another: golf.
Yes, music is writ large in the Magnolia state. Mississippi has been called the birthplace of American music.
Golf is now making a determined pitch to match it in popularity.
That’s why the announcement of a new week long Golf & Blues trip to Tunica, Mississippi (October 12-18, 2014) has been met with such excitement.
“It’s going to be a cool trip, a mixture of two of our favourite past times,” says Danny Fulton,
director of corporate sales at Golf Packages Etc., who, along with Philip Bellew are organizing the event.
The blues has always been the apertif when planning a trip to Mississippi, and golf simply fills out the menu, adds Bellew.
But there are other things to spice up your time there: weather (the average temperature is 24 celcius in October), and gaming. Tunica is also known as the Gateway to the Blues and is the third largest centre in North America behind only Las Vegas and Atlantic City. There’s also something more telling, and more magical: it’s called southern hospitality.
Fulton says that’s what sets this apart, and makes every visit to the sunny south so picture perfect.
He calls Tunica “an infectious place to visit – every day you seem to want more.”
It’s located in North Mississippi, just off the shoulder of the Mississippi River; a trip on the Tunica Queen Riverboat is always a highlight for visitors, and smack dab between Clarksdale, the ancestral home to the blues on the the world-famous Route 61, and Memphis, Tennessee 25 miles north.
We all know what Memphis has to offer: Graceland (the home of the late Elvis Presley, a Mississippi native), America’s Blues Street, Beale Street, is a magnet for music lovers. Sun Records is the place where the legendary Sam Phillips found Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash, amongst others.
Trips to Memphis and Clarksdale are on the agenda, and these bus tours are sure to be highlights.
While the golf and blues is divided almost equally, there is also some built-in down time for participants to lay back and enjoy the go-slow feel of a southern city.
It’s that go-slow vibe that makes this trip so special, says Bellew.
The trip includes six nights’ accommodation at the elegant Gold Strike Casino Resort, with a welcome reception, and four rounds at championship layouts like The Links at Cottonwood, Tunica National, Cherokee Valley, and Riverbend.
The package includes three dinners, an evening dinner cruise on the Tunica Queen Riverboat and a closing reception. There will also be daily prizes and tee gifts.
If you’re not a golfer (and Fulton expects about 20 per cent to be non-golfers) there is plenty to do during the day, including some of the best shopping on the planet.
The golfer rates check in at $1,149 and non-golfers will pay $866, both with double occupancy.
Day trips to the Tunica River Park Museum are planned, along with an evening out in Clarksdale – a barbecue dinner at the world famous Morgan Freeman’s Ground Zero Blues Club.
Foodies will enjoy the northern Mississippi fare, and you’ve never eaten real home cooking until you have it at the Hollywood Café.
It’s raw, natural, and pure Mississippi.
Why does a trip to Tunica make us feel so good?
Maybe it’s because it is a true escape from the routine and responsibility of our everyday lives?
Maybe it’s purely therapeutic: where can you combine lovely weather with world-class food and wash it down with music and golf?
Bellew says all roads seem to lead to Tunica, and ‘Finding your True South’, the state tourism motto, starts in the north part of the state and runs in a perfect linear line down the Mississippi River to the Gulf Coast.
This is the new Mississippi, a state on the ascendency, with a smorgasbord of native dishes, cool music, great golf, wonderful casinos, and some of the best year round weather.
For visitors this is the golfing source of the Nile, a mere 15-hour drive from central Canada, but only a short flight on a number of different airlines with connectors to Memphis.
For music lovers, it’s a chance to reconnect to the roots of jazz, country and rock ‘n roll.
Mississippi born author Richard Ford, says “you come to the realization that nothing will ever take you away from yourself.”
That’s the lure of Mississippi, he says.
Maybe that’s why it’s fast becoming the go-to destination for weather-weary Northerners looking for a respite from the chilly fall weather – a chance to extend the golf season.
So put Tunica on your GPS.
Visit the Golf & Blues website at http://southerngolftours.com/golf-and-blues-experience/, and they’ll make you feel welcome.
The Golf & Blues trip to Tunica promises to sunny-up your mood, and leave behind a bagful of memories.
For more information on the State of Mississippi visit www.visitmississippi.org