Mississippi Unveils Magnolia Golf Trail

In mid-January 2003, the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) Division of Tourism announced the establishment of the Magnolia Golf Trail, a collection of 14 golf courses designed by many of the game's top architects.

Golf Digest, Golfweek and Golf magazines have listed Magnolia Golf Trail courses as some of the best in the South, some which have hosted professional golf tour events. The Trail courses stretch from Robinsonville in the Tunica gaming hub just outside Memphis, to Bay St. Louis along the Gulf of Mexico.

"The Magnolia Golf Trail offers golfers convenient access to a wealth of unique, highly-rated golf venues at affordable prices," says Robert J. Rohrlack, Jr., MDA Executive Director. "This is a collaborative effort to educate golfers on what Mississippi offers along with incentives to play our outstanding courses. Mississippi is a jewel for golf and other attractions, including new, luxurious casino resorts, world-famous music, delicious cuisine, and our heritage, history and architecture."

Each Magnolia Golf Trail course has to meet criteria to assure quality, high standards of course layout, and amenities. The efforts seem to be working as the Magnolia Golf Trail was nominated as the only U.S. representative in the category of "Best Emerging Golf Destination" by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators and the Golf Travel Writers Association in 2002.

That distinction is the latest in what has become a series of achievements for the state. Of 314 Metropolitan Statistical Areas defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Mississippi areas of Biloxi-Gulfport-Pascagoula were cited by Golf Digest as two of the best U.S. golf areas in the nation, ranking above Honolulu, Tucson, Las Vegas, and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater.

Magnolia Golf Trail member courses include Canebrake (a Jerry Pate design) and Timberton (Mark McCumber) in Hattiesburg, and The Bridges (Arnold Palmer) and The Oaks (Landmark Golf) on the Gulf Coast. Plans are to expand the Trail roster this year.

Attractions contributing to Mississippi's growing popularity include:

Great year-round weather and direct flights from major carriers;
More than 140 courses with different prices and designs in five distinct regions;
New and existing nationally recognized courses by top architects;
More affordable courses than comparable golf destinations;
World-famous gourmet cuisine, blues music, and casino resorts with star-studded shows;
Family-themed attractions offering parks to beaches;
An annual PGA Tour event in the state capitol of Jackson;
History and architecture, including Antebellum mansions and B&B venues.

The Magnolia Golf Trailís website, www.magnoliagolftrail.com, contains a map as well as profiles and photos of the member courses. A free Golf Mississippi Travel Guide and more information is available by calling 866/801-8551.