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|Upscale Fallen Oak brings a new element to the Biloxi golf scene. (Brandon Tucker/GolfPublisher.com)|
Fallen Oak Golf Club, a Tom-Fazio design, is part of the Beau Rivage Hotel & Casino. It's a jaw-droppingly beautiful golf course set on low country terrain, and playing here makes you feel like the biggest of casino whales.
BILOXI, Miss. - A taste of upscale, Vegas-like golf and gaming is a little closer that it used to be for everyone in the Midwest and east coast.
Anyone willing to pony up the $200-plus to play Fallen Oak will feel like the biggest of high rollers - even among a more low-key, modest Mississippi backdrop.
And the high rollers do come out here. The day of our visit, there was a group of golfers rumored to have dropped about $500,000 cash on the Beau Rivage tables the night before. It's safe to say their round was likely au gratis.
This isn't the kind of golf club designed to stay in the black. Rather, it's an amenity that makes its guests and gamblers at the Beau Rivage feel like royalty. The course only sees on average about 15-20 rounds per day. Though it could easily command full tee sheets, Fallen Oak is meant to have the feel of an exclusive club, set on over 500 acres along the Desoto National Forest.
An MGM-Mirage property, Fallen Oak is the second course for the company, who built another big-budget spectacle on the outskirts of Las Vegas: Shadow Creek. Shadow Creek was another Fazio design, and he spared no expense creating an oasis of trees and vegetation in the middle of the desert that is now a common playground for Michael Jordan and other high-rollers.
Like Shadow Creek, Fallen Oak was a pricey project, reportedly costing in the area of $30 million to build pre-Katrina, with an additional $17 million afterwards to restore the course to its conceived excellence. Much of the money was spent moving the dramatic, dark oaks around the property to place them in ideal position. Drainage and turf management for optimal playing conditions year round also took a big chunk out of the budget.
Fallen Oak is in the similar mold of Shadow Creek in offering a golf experience a cut above its neighbors, and hotel guests are shuttled from the Beau Rivage via limo to the golf club (which Shadow Creek does too). But unlike Shadow Creek, which is an out-of-desert experience, Fallen Oak's character is unmistakably lowcountry. It symbolically opened on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, serving as an icon for the promising future of golf and tourism in the Gulf Coast.
A year later, it features 18 holes ranging from spectacular to jaw-dropping. There are no "filler holes" out here - each player is sure to have their own favorite.
A few front-runners start at the par-3 third hole. While many of the holes here are tree-lined and tight, this is open and spacious, playing over a marsh which sits in front and to the left.
The short, par-4 4th hole is the most beautifully framed hole, lined tightly, a little too perfectly really, with age-old, dark trees.
The back nine features a little more undulation than the front, full of uphill and downhill shots that are hard to find in this neck of the coast. The epic finishing hole is a long par-4 that features the signature fallen oak on the right side of the fairway, before playing downhill to a green perched over a river to the left.
Be sure to save a few hands of poker, blackjack, or whatever your casino game is to experience Fallen Oak. It's Biloxi's most upscale and scenic golf course, and you'll be treated like the biggest of Vegas whales.
Aside from the limo service, attended locker room facilities and forecaddies, each cart also comes with GPS, and there are six sets of tees stretching to nearly 7,500 yards for anyone who didn't get enough of a beat down on the tables the night before.
Though easily the most expensive course in the area (about double The Preserve down the road), Fallen Oak is worth experiencing at least once for anyone who's got the dough.
You'll need to stay at the Beau Rivage on the Gulf Coast at least one night if you want to play Fallen Oak, and that's no hardship. This elegant hotel, casino and spa, along a similar mold of Bellagio in Las Vegas, features spacious guest rooms and numerous fine dining options, including master chef Todd English's Olives.
Want your round at Fallen Oak comped after a bad night of gambling? Course officials suggest it would probably take at least a $5,000 line of credit in the Beau Rivage casino to make it happen.
October 8, 2007
Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
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