Owned and operated by the Palace Casino Resort in nearby Biloxi, the course at The Preserve Golf Club is a new millennium design from Jerry Pate. It’s laid out within a 245-acre property that’s surrounded by cypress swamps, long leaf pine savannah and live oak groves.
Opened for play in 2006, The Preserve lies within 1,800 acres of nature conservancy and the layout borders, but doesn’t bring into play, the meandering waters of the Fort Bayou Creek. Only eight years after it was unveiled, the course underwent a major upgrade, with all the greens and bunkers renovated.
This course extends to 6,774 yards from the back markers so it’s not designed to beat golfers up for length. The par three 16th is considered the toughest hole on the scorecard at 225 yards, though the 442-yard 9th and 462-yard 18th are also formidable par fours to face at the end of both nines.
Stephen Miles, Director of Golf Operations kindly supplied the following:
Our greens are now TifEagle Bermudagrass with TifGrand Bermudagrass collars. All greens were completely rebuilt with most having the same contours as the originals. The green complexes that now have more “character” are on holes 3, 12-15 and 18.
We took advantage of the closure to replace our old bunker liner with Capillary Concrete (becoming the first course to do so with all 18 holes in the US) and the sand was replaced with a manufactured sand from Atlanta, known as G- Angle. This sand has held up well and provides a firmer, more consistent surface throughout the bunkers.
The complete rebuild of our greens was necessary due to a few factors.
Low quality dirty sand was chosen during the initial construction and this sand interacted with a sodic water irrigation source, resulting in the destruction of the internal drainage of our putting greens.
During the rebuild we improved our light quality through tree removal. We built a better, more stable foundation on which our greens would be built. We chose the highest quality materials to be used during construction and hired a highly regarded contractor whose project superintendent had lead successful renovation projects at The Country Club of Birmingham in Alabama and Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta.
We also located a new, higher quality water source. All of these factors have resulted in significantly improved playing conditions, while lowering our annual maintenance expenditure.
The greater compliment one can pay any course is that it looks like the layout was meant to be there. Too many modern courses are superimposed on the terrain. The natural connection, that should have been present, is completely obliterated through a heavy-handed emphasis.
The far southern areas of Mississippi do not have much elevation change. What architect and former PGA Tour player Jerry Pate smartly did was to take the qualities of the site and route the course in such a way that the connection between the golf and Mother Nature is maximized to the utmost. The actual course sits on 245 acres of land so there's enough spacing between the holes and, more importantly, there is no on-course clutter which would clearly be an eye-sore no matter how protected from view such inclusions would be.
The course is engulfed with 1,800 acres of dedicated nature preserve. When you step on the 1st tee you feel a complete harmony with the surroundings. Pate wisely provided for challenging golf but not with a heavy reliance on massive length or overly shaped greens. Over the last number of years the ascension of "minimalism" has been a dogmatic pursuit for many people. The idea that you don't include anything more than what the given sites provides. The Preserve was shaped for the 18-holes but done so via fine brush strokes -- not the invasive sort that distorts beyond comprehension the very qualities that originally existed.
The routing and pacing of the holes is also done well. Pate outlines a preferred angle of attack for optimum scoring purposes. But, there's also avenues for the less gifted player to attempt to secure a low score via another avenue.
The fees charged are not inexpensive but given the connection between the course and The Palace Casino you do get top tier customer service upon arrival and through departure.
The Preserve hooks together playable but yet reasonably challenging golf. Combine that with the innate beauty of the surroundings and one's time here will clearly be savored.
M. James Ward