Set within the Mississippi Black Prairie region and formerly the playground of Knob Hill Dairy Farm’s cattle, Mossy Oak Golf Club was destined to topple Tom Fazio’s Fallen Oak from the head of Mississippi’s Best In State rankings.
Mossy Oak is the first US course from the design stable of Gil Hanse since his Rio Olympic Golf Course wooed the crowds and the professionals in 2016 and it now serves as the home course for Mississippi State University’s golf teams.
The minimalist layout is an engaging and strategic walking course that’s generously routed across rolling pastureland where native grasses and occasional oak trees work together simply and harmoniously. From the 6th green you can see all eighteen flags at Mossy Oak as there are only nineteen trees on the property.
Many will be familiar with Mossy Oak, the camouflage and outdoor lifestyle company, and this public access course of the same name, which opened for play in the fall of 2016, is the result of a brave collaboration between the owner, George Bryan and the West Point apparel founder, Toxey Haas.
The club moniker is “Nature’s Golf” and it’s plain to see why. The layout looks and feels just like a lie-of-the-land course from a bygone era. Tees and greens are positioned in close proximity to each other and most importantly Mossy Oak plays firm and fast.
Bunkering often makes or breaks a course, and here at Mossy Oak the traps are undeniably top quality and reminiscent of the world-class bunkers found in abundance across Melbourne’s Sandbelt. Doctor Alister MacKenzie would be proud – please take a bow Mr Hanse.
Mossy Oak gets a lot of accolades. It is a very nice course. When I played in November 2020 it had wonderful conditions throughout. The greens were very fast. Add in the slopes on the greens and they were certainly a challenge. Most had at least two tiers.
As a first time player my impression was a wide-open course. Very few trees, a couple of lakes, but nothing much looked like it would pose a challenge. I also noticed the lack off rough. Many Southern courses have deep bermuda rough-even in the fall/winter season. You generally have the fairway, and then a first cut. But the challenge comes after that, where tall native grass will make your play both unplayable and unfindable, See the photos for a sample. The course reminded me a lot of Cuscowilla, a Crenshaw/Coore design near Lake Oconee/Reynolds in Georgia. It also had the same wide open feel of Sweetens Cove, a much celebrated 9-hole course in Tennessee.
The course is fairly flat with some rolling hills but no dramatic elevation changes. It seems that the course boundaries constrained some holes that needed to be "tucked in" to make an 18 hole layout. Take the very short par 4, 3rd hole and the par 3, 9th hole as examples. With 5 sets of tees you get a choice of yardage challenge but the scoring difficulty is on and near the greens.
Another interesting feature is the placement of the tee boxes close to the previous green. Some would call that "old school" but I found it a nice touch.
All in all a wonderful course. The course offers caddies for walking and fore-caddies for riders (available if you arrange ahead of time). Next time, I might take them up on that as I had a hard time finding my way around on a few holes.
What a treat it is to play Mossy Oak. A group of friends and I travelled down to MS to play at Old Waverly and Mossy. We played Waverly the first day and were blown away by the course (will do a review of it shortly), only to become completely mesmerized by Mossy Oak the next day. This truly is a top class destination to come play golf, the courses are polar opposites of each other, the accommodations are fantastic and the hospitality is exceptional.
Mossy Oak is a gem of a modern design. It is incredibly fun golf course to play that keeps the player constantly guessing by forcing them to make decision after decision. This is a course where you need to and will be asked to hit all the shots in your bag. The main defenses of the course are its large and sharply edged bunkers, the large and undulating greens and with it being a rolling piece of terrain with little to no trees, the wind will always play a factor.
When out playing the course, there were a few things that struck me while playing it. Firstly the tee boxes effortlessly roll off of the previous green, there is no walking backwards/forwards etc. to find the next tee. I find this to be incredibly rare these days and it shows that the course was masterfully routed across the terrain. Secondly, you really feel like you are out in nature on the course, you almost feel like you are out on a nice hike with friends on the gorgeous land and at multiple different points on the property you can look around and have a 360 degree view of the entire which is mesmerizing. Thirdly, although it is a new course, the design almost feels old world with potential modern takes on classic template holes. Fourthly, the variety of the course is exceptional, where the holes are wildly varying lengths and you never feel like you are playing a hole similar to a previous one.
I will detail a few of my favorite holes below:
3. Is a short drivable volcano par 4. After playing the hole twice, going for the green once and laying up once, I still have no idea how best to play this hole. The green is relatively small upturned saucer, with some of the deepest bunkers on the course. Miss it in any of the bunkers and you probably won't be able to see the flag on your bunker shot. This holes forces you to make a decision and execute with full commitment on each shot and if you don't you will be happy to walk off with a 5.
I love all the holes at Mossy, but the stretch of 9-14 is my favorite.
9. Is the short. With a wedge in hand, you are playing into a very shallow and undulating green guarded by deep bunkers back and front and water to the right. Off the tee, it really doesn't look like there is much space to land the ball and you are offered a bail out to the left (which I took) which leaves a dastardly up and down.
10. Is a short dog leg right drivable par 4 with a big lions mouth bunker in the green and OB down the left hand side. On the tee, the direct line to the green is protect by bunkers and long grass, daring you to take the green on and with the OB down the left side you almost feel forced into it. To me this is the classic risk reward par 4.
11. Is kind of like a reverse redan par 3 that can play up to 250 yards, except the back bunkers are actually above the green and the water protects the right side of the green. The ideal shot here is a fade going up the left side of the green to allow the undulations to bring it back in towards the flag. As someone who draws/hooks the ball, I can't tell you how unnerving this tee shot is.
12. Is a long straightaway par 5 with trouble everywhere. There is OB all the way up the left, deep bunkers protecting the right side of the fairway, a burn running across the middle of the hole and probably the biggest false front I have ever seen on a very shallow green. My shot into green spun off the false front, and it then took me 4 shots (using 4 different clubs) to get the ball up the false front and safely on the green and I left the green with a big smile on my face.
13. Is a medium length par 4 that is almost an Alps template. There is a burn that runs up the left side of the fairway that you need to test off the tee, as there is a big mound and bunker short right of the green that blocks the view of anyone who is on the middle to right sides of the fairway.
14. Is a classic big sweeping dog leg left with the fairway pushing your ball further right. The more you take on the dog leg and keep the ball left, the shorter your approach shot will be with a much better angle into a devilish green. Like me, if you bail out to the right side of the fairway you will be left with a treacherous approach over deep bunkers, into the shallow green with deep run offs right and long.
All of the holes at Mossy Oak are fantastic and if you are ever anywhere near the area it is a cannot miss, especially with Old Waverly across the street.
The owners of the legendary Old Waverly decided to build a second golf course directly across the street from their existing property, so they can become more of a golf destination. Architect Gil Hause was hired to design a minimalist links-style course on a previous dairy farm. In 2016 Mossy Oak opened with much acclaim, being voted by Golf Digest as the #3 in their ‘America’s Best New Golf Courses 2017’. There are five sets of tees ranging for 5,098 to 7.212-yards on this par-72 championship course so pick your poison. They now have two very different courses in their stable combined with fully-equipped condos, villas and cottages that can accommodate up to 180 guests, so they have certainly achieved just that.
Water hazards are not a major issue here, but the 103 bunkers and the huge greens will certainly grab your attention. Positioning and control are much more important than distance to tackle this track.
Hole #3 is a prime example. This tempting par-4 is drivable but anything short or left will find one of the two enormous bunkers in front or left. Unless you’re playing in a scramble event, the prudent decision is to layup to this raised green. My playing partner decided to be aggressive and spent his next three shots trying to get out of the sand pit.
Other memorable holes are #6, a par-5 dogleg left where your tee shot must carry a creek that crosses the fairway and the 12th, a par-5, where anything short on this raised green will funnel back down the slope.
#17 is the signature hole. This reachable par-5 has a raised green with a 30,000 square foot bunker on the left side of the green and a small bunker on the right.
18th is a tough finishing hole. An uphill tee shot will leave you with a blind approach where you cannot see the pond that juts out before the three-tiered green.
You probably won’t loose any golf balls here since the fairways are wide and the rough is short as the natural grasses have not yet matured. Greens are still young so are very firm, but probably intended. Even though the sand is very soft and consistent, avoid the bunkers at all cost since they are very deep and punishing.
I personally would rank Old Waverly ahead of Mossy Oak but both are very good and uniquely different.
To read more about Dave Finn's golf travel adventures visit www.golftravelandleisure.com
Nice golf course that is over rated. If anything Old Waverly should be rated one. First thing one notices from the street and parking lot are the bunkers. While not quite as big as Rhode Island they are impressive. Addiitonally, for a fairly wooded there golf course has been denuded. To the course, first hole welcomes you in and then the second wakes you up,485 yard par 4. Refreshingly, the 3rd hole is a driveable short par 4 that is well protected. Definitely a birdie oppty. The 5th is confusing. From the tee box you see a cojoined fairway with both the 3rd and 4th holes. Better to be left than right as there is gunch right with a small water hazard and stream. On the par 5 7th aim right on your te shot as everyhting will funnel towards the left. For you really big hitters there is a small stream crossing the fairway. For you hookers be careful on your second shot a as a brook parallels the left side. The 8th is another birdie oppty if your drie clears the stream you should have a flip wedge in. The 9th is a short par 3 and a green light based upon the pin location. The back nine starts with a great risk reward short dogleg right. There are bunkers on the right side and if the pin is tucked right it is better to be left to take the bunkers out of play. Everything rolls right. The 11th is a cool par three. I can't recall seeing greenside bunkers reflect in a water hazard before. At first I thought they were islands. From the tips, 250 yards! The par five 12th is pretty much what you see, however, pay attention to the tiered green. The 13th and 14th utilize an optical illusion to create the sense of greenside bunkers, when in reality you still have lots of runway. The par 3 15th most approaches will roll left. The dogleg right par 4 16th, one should favor the left side to avoid the bunkers in the elbow. However, don't be a dummy like me and drive it through the fairway. I think the par 5 17th is the signature hole. Reachable in two to an elevated green it has a colossal bunker, perhaps 70 yards long, twenty yards wide and 12 yards deep.
A nice track, well worth it, but Old Waverly is better
I agree Old Waverly is much better than Mossy Oak. Two very different styles - one is a mature, stately parkland design and the other is a new heathland-style layout. I would put Fallen Oak or any of the Dancing Rabbit courses ahead of Mossy Oak.
Mossy Oak Golf Club is the perfect compliment to Old Waverly across the street. Mossy Oak gives West Point arguably the top-two courses in Mississippi, and the layouts are a great 36-hole contrast. While the less than a year old Mossy oak has some growing left to do with the native areas, the tee to green grow in has been incredible. It's a course that leaves you wanting to try your hand again as soon as your first 18 is finished. Mossy Oak and Old Waverly combined makes this one of the best 36-hole destinations in the South.
This is a sister-course to Old Waverly, about half a mile down the road and located on the other side of the street. The owner of Old Waverly (George Bryan) engaged Gil Hanse to design a second course to make West Point, MS a golf destination.
It was Hanse’ first domestic effort since the Olympic course in Rio. The architects incredible abilities are on full display and this layout’s quality casts a large dark shadow over its sister course, Old Waverly.
Hanse took a relatively flat piece of land and developed wonderful holes in every direction. He has intertwined fairways, greens-sites on elevated pieces of lands littered with traps, strategic uses of creeks, treacherously enticing drivable par 4s, and hugely strategic dog-legs. He really brought this parcel of land to life.
It just opened for play last September and I can’t wait to see what it looks like in three years’ time once it has had a chance to grow in.
The bunkers around the Melbourne Sandbelt inspired the bunkering. Having been to Melbourne on two occasions, the effort to replicate the MacKenzie inspired bunkering is truly admirable at Mossy Oak. The highlight is an epic green-side bunker on the par 5 17th hole called “George’s Bunker” (named after the club owner) which is so large that you could park 20 cars in it, and not see a single car when standing on the elevated green.
Mossy Oak is without doubt in its infancy, but the architect has positioned it for nationwide recognition as it grows up.