Golf Along Northern Mississippi's Delta Region
Put It on Your Golf Bucket List
By Brian Weis
A confession is in order. Having traveled all over our country I had never had occasion to spend time in the Delta region of northwestern Mississippi and a recent trip there showed my visit should have occurred years ago.
It is a special place well worth a trip and not just for the great golf.
Called the Mississippi Delta and running roughly from Memphis, Tenn. to Vicksburg, Miss., the area is actually the delta of the Yazoo River and east of the mighty Mississippi. Over centuries the Yazoo's annual flooding deposited a layer of rich soil several feet deep making it some of the best farmland anywhere.
For golfers outstanding places to play at pocketbook-friendly prices are a prime attraction but when not on the course visitors can take advantage of the many other things to do and see. This part of the deep South is steeped in American history as well as being the area where that unique American music-form, the Blues, was born plus home to some outstanding food as my waistline will testify.
For history buffs the region is fascinating where many significant battles of the Civil Ware, such as the siege of Vicksburg, took place. Post-war Reconstruction left its mark on the Delta with most people living by sharecropping cotton and other crops. Levees were built to contain flooding of the rivers plus construction of the Illinois Central Railroad shaped the history and culture through the 20th century as it still does today.
Do not miss the Museum of The Mississippi Delta in Greenwood for the many exhibits including ones of the Native Americans who originally lived in the area, local history, and the Civil War plus an outstanding collection of works by local artists.
The history of the Delta is also the story of American music and most particularly the Blues, our country's unique contribution to music that had an immense effect on modern composers and performers. The Blues grew from music played by slaves and later tenant farmers voicing their deep feelings of both happiness and sadness in their lives. Prior to World War II the Blues began to spread as residents migrated to Chicago, New Orleans and Nashville and influenced not only jazz but every genre of popular music. Musicians from Elvis Presley to the Beatles have admitted a debt to this most original form of American music.
Aficionados know the Mississippi Delta is in the middle of the Americana Music Triangle (Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans) and the Mississippi Blues Trail is a good way to see the important sites. Blues musicians like Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson and Son House all came from here and you can visit the Crossroads in Clarksville where the story goes Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his amazing ability to play the Blues. Also, in Clarksville live Blues is played every night in places such as Red's Blues Club and actor Morgan Freeman's Ground Zero Blues Club.
The Dockery Plantation outside Cleveland is billed as "The Birthplace of the Blues" and a must-see for fans looking for a sense of the real history of the people and times. In Tunica there is the Gateway to the Blues Museum that is especially interesting, and an afternoon spent in the Grammy Museum (Cleveland) is time well spent.
Looking for more? The Delta is world famous for its barbecued brisket, ribs and pulled pork with outstanding sauces. Locals and visitors flock to the Memphis BBQ Company in Horn Lake that can boast World Championship baby back ribs memorably cooked by chef Melissa Cookston, a world class pit master.
We can highly recommend the Shrimp and Original Grit Girl Grits (spicy cheese grits, sautéed garlic shrimp, mushrooms, scallions, white wine, lemon juice and Big Bad bacon) at the City Grocery in Oxford. For some of us this meal made the trip worthwhile all by itself. If beef is your thing and a two-pound rib eye is on your diet, the Delta Meat Market is certainly worth a drive to Cleveland.
During our tour of the Delta we were fortunate to stay in first class accommodations starting with the Graduate in Oxford and The Cotton House in Cleveland. Think "Old South" with a graciousness hard to find now days. Both hostelries had a charming, relaxing atmosphere and were staffed by friendly and courteous employees.
If cards, roulette and even slot machines are for you, we spent for two nights at the Gold Strike Casino outside Tunica where there is plenty of action in an entertaining atmosphere with the Chicago Steakhouse a particularly good place to dine.
Golf in the Delta is a main attraction too and there is a wide variety of courses at a great value. The highest weekend rate we found was $65 and $40 was more common depending on what part of the year you play.
River Bend Links in Tunica advertises they are the mid-South's only Scottish links-style course. After our round there were two lasting impressions, the greens were super-quick and since they are very large club selection for approach shots was critical to avoid three-putt stress.
The Tunica National Golf & Tennis course has the reputation of being a severe test and we agree. Playing the proper set of tees to match your skill level is always important but here it is especially true. The course's relatively flat topography means the routing is dictated by the many water hazards and fairway bunkers, so the adage of fairways and greens is key. Playing from the middle markers my evaluation of Tunica was certainly colored by making two birdies on the front and then a birdie on the back plus an eagle on the par-5 16th.
North Creek Golf Club in Southhaven has a layout that reminded me of courses nearer the ocean and like them large mounds dictate play. With a par of 72 and tees from 4,559- to 6,433-yards this is a fun layout with Champion Bermuda greens and fairways of Mississippi Choice Bermuda. One of the most photographed features though is the tunnel underneath the double green serving the 13th and 15th holes, believed to be the only time has been done on any golf course in the world.
We especially liked the family-owned Cherokee Valley Golf Club course in Olive Branch just a short drive from Memphis International airport. Champion Bermuda greens were a treat to putt and the routing takes players on and around a large slope and the 11 lakes on the property. There are four sets of tees from 4,442- to 6,751-yards and the generous fairways of Zoysia made almost every lie perfect. Also, since the green speeds were challenging hitting approach shots below the hole was a must.
The Ole Miss Golf Course owned by the University of Mississippi in Oxford was a pleasure as well. Not bothering to even look at the back-tee markers played by the men's golf team we played the middle yardage tees at just over 6,339 yards and were glad we did because of the hilly terrain. Among the memories of Ole Miss is the modest 18th hole of only 321-yards from the white tees, but with the last 150 yards over more than 40 feet up hill. Not only is the second shot difficult due to the slope but it is also blind.
We said earlier to put the Mississippi Delta on your must-do list, and you can see why. Building memories with family and friends is easy. History for any interest, Blues for the soul, food for the inner man, lodging fit for everyone and oh yes, some excellent golf.
Revised: 09/08/2020 - Article Viewed 198 Times
About: Brian Weis
Brian Weis is the Publisher of GolfTrips.com, a network of golf travel and directory sites including GolfWisconsin.com, GolfMichigan.com, ArizonaGolfer.com, GolfAlabama.com, etc. Professionally, Brian is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA), International Network of Golf (ING), Golf Travel Writers of America (GTWA), International Golf Travel Writers Association (IGTWA) and The Society of Hickory Golfers (SoHG). In 2016, Brian won The Shaheen Cup, an award given to a golf travel writer by his peers.
All of his life, Brian has been around the game of golf. As a youngster, Brian competed at all levels in junior and high school golf. Brian had a zero chance for a college golf scholarship, so he worked on the grounds crew at West Bend Country Club to pay for his University of Wisconsin education. In his adult years, his passion for the game collided with his entrepreneurial spirit and in 2004 launched GolfWisconsin.com. In 2007, the idea for a network of local golf directory sites formed and GolfTrips.com was born. Today, the network consists of a site in all 50 states supported by national sites like GolfTrips.com, GolfGuide.com and GolfPackages.com. It is an understatement to say, Brian is passionate about promoting golf and golf travel on a local, regional, national and international level.
On the golf course, Brian is known as a fierce weekend warrior that fluctuates between a 5-9 handicap. With a soft fade, known as "The Weis Slice", and booming 300+ drives, he can blast it out of bounds with the best of them.
Contact Brian Weis:
GolfTrips.com - Publisher and Golf Traveler