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.
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.
Dave Finn is our Canadian Correspondent. To read more about his 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.