From the 2005 tragedy of Hurricane Katrina to the recent oil spill fiasco, the Mississippi Gulf coast has endured more than its fair share of turmoil in recent years. The area is quickly becoming a case study in resiliency, however, and industries are bouncing back in grand fashion. With summer temperatures that average in the high 80s and a plethora of top-tier courses to choose from, the Gulf Coast couples a world-class golf vacation experience with a welcome dose of southern hospitality.
BEST ALL-AROUND EXPERIENCE
Limo service to and from the course is just the beginning at Fallen Oak. Because the course is available only to guests of the Beau Rivage, crowds are rarely a problem here. In fact, it's not unlikely that you'll end up with all 7,487 yards of rolling, marvelously maintained, Tom Fazio-designed terrain to yourself. After your round, head to the clubhouse's sunken bar to enjoy the view with a Mississippi brew at one of the best 19th holes in the country. ($200; 877-805-4657, fallenoak.com)
If you're looking to play an enjoyable golf course that's not too easy and not too hard, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Grand Bear is just right. A true public-access course, the Bear is a favorite of locals and vacationers alike. Located a half hour from the Biloxi casinos, getting to the course is no easy taskthe trip requires an additional six-mile off-highway foray into the DeSoto National Forestbut the resulting peace and tranquility of unencumbered nature make the Grand Bear worth the trek. ($65-$109; 228-539-7806, golfgrandbear.com)
You won't find a more natural setting than the one found at The Preserve, where Jerry Pate incorporated wetlands and bogs into his stellar design. The colorful landscape is matched by excellent conditioning, and the result is breathtaking. Spend too much time enjoying the scenery, though, and your scorecard will reflect it, especially on the last two holes (including the visually intimidating 462-yard par-4 18th), where water on the left side often attracts approach shots. ($90-$135; 877-674-6539, preservegc.com)
EAT, DRINK, STAY
No trip here is complete without a stay in one of the waterfront mega-resorts. The area's best is easily the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino (June rates from $149; 888-567-6667, beaurivage.com). For good old-fashioned southern BBQ, make your way to The Shed (228-832-1147, theshedbbq.com). The food is served in Styrofoam boxes and the interior is pure kitsch, but go there for the pulled pork and potato salad.