Mississippi Gulf Coast and the Big Easy
“Hey Claudio, what do you think of resurrecting those golf and blues trips?” Was a question posed to me the other day by Philip Bellew, Managing Partner of Alabama based Let’s Go Golf Trips.
For over a decade there was a series golf and blues music trips, some “Walking in Memphis,” though most predominately through the State of Mississippi with a few side-stepping their way into a few jazzy notes in the city that never sleeps, “The Big Easy” New Orleans.
Bellew could not have said it better himself, “The blues has always been the aperitif when planning a trip to Mississippi, and golf simply fills out the menu.”
These are a lot of things that come to mind when you think of Mississippi.
Writing: John Grisham and William Faulkner
Food: fried pickles and catfish
Music: The Blues, forged from southern slavery, and wormed its way into the collective consciousness of music lovers everywhere through artists like James Cotton, Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy and BB King. Thus, The Birthplace of American Music.
Twenty years ago, casinos dotted the landscape, followed by world class golfer playgrounds.
At the time of writing this piece the customized golf & blues trip thoughts are just that, but should you be thinking of combining two of America’s favorite pastimes into your next vacation he and his company, Let’s Go Golf Trips can make that happen. They have been working throughout the Southeast USA for years, you are in good hands.
You can never go wrong adding a visit to Memphis and North Mississippi to you golf & blues plans. So much to offer: Graceland, the home of the late Elvis Presley, Beale Street – America’s Blues Street, is a magnet for music lovers; Sun Records the place where the legendary Sam Phillips found Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash amongst others.
Just 25 miles south of Memphis is Tunica, Mississippi. Considered the Gateway to the Blues and an infectious place to visit it’s just off the shoulder of the Mississippi River, a casino capital (one of the largest behind Las Vegas and Atlantic City).
A visit to North Mississippi would not be complete without a visit to Clarksburg, the ancestral home to the blues and Morgan Freeman’s infamous Ground Zero Blues Club minutes from the world-famous Routes 61 & 49.
Golf in Memphis is highlighted by the likes of TPC Southwind home to the PGA TOUR’s WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and Miriamichi Golf Club whose original owner was none other than Justin Timberlake, consistently ranked as one of the top courses in the State.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast is where you will find a great collection of World Class Golf. Over 20 to chose from, a couple of favorites that put Biloxi / Gulfport on golf radar are the Jack Nicklaus designed Grand Bear Golf Club and the Davis Love III design Shell Landing Golf Club.
The Nicklaus design is carved through an unspoiled setting of dense pines in the DeSoto National Forest. “With its packed needle rough, championship greens and deep bunkers, Grand Bear has the feel and excitement of Pinehurst, with a touch of Augusta National,” Nicklaus describes.
In 2017 Golf Digest Ranked Shell Landing #6th Best Golf Course in Mississippi. Combine diverse topography and natural waterfront beauty with massive bunkers and marsh lands, this course gives you the feeling it has been here forever. You will want to coordinate a meal into your visit here, I can vouch for that.
There’s a ton to do after the golf clubs are put away for the day.
Biloxi overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, is bright and bustling with diverse cuisine. The city also has a wonderful history dating back to 1699, making it one of the oldest in the south. It’s a cultural melting pot, and hopping 24/7 with non-stop casino resorts. From its antebellum structures to its 100 Men Hall (aficionados of historic black culture and music will find it interesting) to the Bay St Louis Historic Walking Tour, there’s plenty to do and see.
You need to try some of the Seafood Gumbo – it is like nothing else on the planet. In a way, it defines Mississippi itself: a steaming pot full of fun and flavor.
BBQ anyone? The Shed BBQ and Blues Joint is a unique rustic juke joint that can best be described as southern gothic. Sitting on the picnic tables outside and munching on wings, award winning pulled pork and baby back ribs to die for – all smothered in a patented sauce that’s literally finger lickin’ good. Add that some bluesy sounds of some of the world’s best bands, makes for a night to remember. It won’t take long for you to become a dedicated ShedHead.
About an hour west of the Biloxi area your eyes and ears will be engaged by the sights and sounds of New Orleans. The Big Easy, immersed in French and Spanish Creole and of course most well-known for its many festivals including the carnival of all carnivals, the one and only Mardi Gras! Bucket lists are made up of many different things for different people. I don’t know too many people that don’t like to have fun, enjoy a few cocktails and some live music. If any of those tickle your fancy then Bourbon Street in the heart of New Orleans French Quarter needs to be on your bucket list!
I highly recommend that in New Orleans you park yourself somewhere within walking distance of the French Quarter. The historic Bienville House Hotel is a grand choice, walking distance from everything and anything to temp your fancy.
A couple of great courses for your stay should include:
TPC Louisiana: A Pete Dye masterpiece, home to the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic and best of all, named #4 best upscale public course by Golf Digest. The fairways of the Mississippi Delta lined with stately cypress and oaks wind through natural marshes and wetlands while protecting natural habitat. A wonderful balance of golf holes including a tempting series of shorter risk/rewards challenges with one of the finest finishing holes in the game!
Lakewood Golf Club: Award winning architect Ron Garl has recently completed a multimillion-dollar upgrade to the original course which played host to the PGA Tour’s New Orleans Open for 26 of its 50+ years. New modern tees, adding contouring to the fairways, unique bunkering and new greens add to your experience while having preserved the character of the original course.
To help with your thoughts around a vacation where golf and blues strike a perfect chord; here are a couple of Let’s Go golf Trips 2020 Spring Specials. Of course, they can be customized just for you and your foursome.
Mississippi Gulf Coast: 4 nights 5 rounds
Available 2/15/2020 to 5/21/2020
Hotel: IP Casino Resort Spa, Biloxi, MS
Golf: Grand Bear Golf Course, Shell Landing Golf Club, The Oaks Golf Club, Windance Country Club and The Bridges Golf Club
Double Occupancy Price $674* per golfer
New Orleans: 3 nights 4 rounds
Available 1/15/2020 to 3/31/2020
Hotel: Bienville House Hotel Double Occupancy
Golf: TPC Louisiana, Lakewood Golf Club, Bayou Oaks South Course & Golf Club at Audubon Park
Double Occupancy Price $814* per golfer
*Price includes double occupancy lodging, resort fees, golf with shared carts and all taxes. Sunday to Tuesday Arrival. Package price is subject to availability and excludes holidays, blackout dates and special events. Additional days and courses are available, prices may vary. Minimum 4 Golfers.
An escape from the routine and responsibility of everyday life.