Developed by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, the two 18-hole layouts operated by Dancing Rabbit Golf Club at Pearl River Resort are late 1990s co-designs by Tom Fazio and Jerry Pate. The Azaleas came first, debuting in 1997, with the slightly shorter – though tougher – Oaks course following two years later.
The heavily wooded courses are built on ancestral land belonging to the Native American tribe, with the waters of Wolf Creek coming into play a number of times on the Azaleas course, most notably on the 453-yard 3rd, the 456-yard 12th and 527-yard 17th, where the creek encroaches on both the fairway and the green.
agronomic make-up of the two Dancing Rabbit 18-hole layouts are completely
different – the Oak s features Zoysia fairways and Bermuda greens whereas the
Azaleas has Bermuda fairways and A-4 Bentgrass greens. Combined, the courses
extend to more than 500 acres, with five miles of wandering creeks adding both
beauty and challenge.
In Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Courses You Can Play book by Brian McCallen, the author states: “It’s difficult to single out feature holes on this seamless, flawless 18 that opened to instant acclaim in 1997. The quartet of one-shotters, three of which plunge sharply downhill, are exceptional.
“The 8th hole, rated the toughest on the course, and stretching to 465 yards from the tips, is one of the finest par fours in the nation. The driving area is generously wide, but the approach must be rifled into a chute of trees, the green tucked deep in the woods and well-defended by bunkers.
“The 9th and 18th holes, both testing par fours graced by strategic water features, are memorable Nassau nightmares that can make or break a match. A pure golf experience unsullied by real estate, Dancing Rabbit is anchored by a clubhouse described as ‘the house your grandmother should have lived in’. It’s a three-story, plantation-style brick structure with high ceilings and two wrap-around verandas overlooking rolling, wooded hills.”
Opened in 1997, the Azalea Course was recently renovated in 2016 changing to new Bermuda fairways and Tiff Eagle greens. Add to the fact that this layout already has dramatic elevation changes with spectacular scenery, this course is one of my favourites in Mississippi. There are numerous memorable holes here including the following.
The 3rd hole is downhill par-4 has a two-tiered fairway. My advice is to play your tee shot to the right on the upper plateau for the best angle at the green.
The 4th is a downhill par-3 with water on the left side that wraps behind the green and the right side is protected by a bunker.
5th is a par-5 where your second shot must land inside the 150-yard marker as the green is tucked uphill to the right with four bunkers protecting anything short right.
The 9th hole starts with an intimidating tee shot to a narrow fairway having a creek running down the entire left side and around the green.
The 17th par-5 is downhill with a creek that runs along the right side and crosses the fairway around the 150-yard mark and continues down the left side to the green. Your drive is relatively open, but your second shot is where all the trouble begins since a large bunker protects the front of the green.
I noticed that 18th hole is the only one that is uphill so bring your camera.
The greens are large, and the overall conditioning is great except for a few tee blocks area. This course is not to be missed.
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