Shell Landing was easily the prettiest course I played in Mississippi. The layout weaves (albeit somewhat awkwardly) throughout the ridges above the lovely salt marshes of the Graveline Bayou, featuring a surprising amount of elevation change and some wide-open vistas of the wetlands. This was my first experience on a Davis Love III design, so I was anxious to see his approach to routing and building a course; I found the routing a bit wanting as without a cart, the course would have been nearly impossible to play. The holes themselves, and particularly the greens, however, were first-rate; by routing the holes farther apart, the designers could choose the choicest spots on the massive property to build them. I count only a handful of holes on the course by which I was not particularly impressed: the ninth, fourteenth, and fifteenth.
The best portion of the front nine lies right smack dab in the middle of it after an above-average first three holes: the fourth, a short par four featuring a semi-blind tee shot over a (mostly decorative) bunker atop a rise, the fifth, a fun long par four featuring a bunkerless green falling off on three sides; and then the sixth, a wild long par four literally perched above the wetlands and exposed completely to the wind. The final three holes on the front nine are a bit of a letdown, however, headlined by the tight forced layup on the par four ninth.
The back nine starts with a bang with the par four tenth, a hole that could not set up more perfectly for my game – short and bending gently to the right. The eleventh, a par three, features no bunkers but doesn’t need them – the enormous lumpy green features about fifteen little pinnable shelves along with a nasty tight little swale to the right. The twelfth and thirteenth are solid holes, but the following two were a bit uninspiring. After a long drive, players arrive on the sixteenth tee needing a long draw around the corner to reach this par five in two. The green on sixteen sits atop a spectacular mound, feeding off in all directions, so any miss leaves a challenging up-and-down. The par three seventeenth requires a forced carry over a section of the salt marsh with three bunkers that can only be described as decorative behind the green, since they are separated from the green surface by a large swale. (The same thing occurs behind the third green; I’m wondering if the fact that it’s three bunkers means it’s some form of a Love III calling card.) After those two exciting holes, the somewhat mundane par four eighteenth is a bit of a letdown.
Overall, I was impressed with the layout at Shell Landing, and the course was in good condition for the winter. Most notably, the greens were the firmest I saw in Mississippi, enough so that a full wedge into the green doesn’t even leave a pitch mark! I consider the course to be an excellent value in a beautiful spot, and well worth playing when spending time on the Gulf Coast.
Played February 21, 2021
Jeff Kissel visited the Mississippi Gulf Coast for an extended period in early 2021, and wrote about it as a guest on the blog Lying Four.
Date: May 08, 2021