When a golf course melds seamlessly with its surroundings, that’s Nature’s Golf. When environmental preservation and forward-thinking course design come together, that’s Nature’s Golf. When you play Old Waverly and Mossy Oak Golf Clubs in West Point, MS, that’s Nature’s Golf. It’s Southern Golf at its finest.
When most golfers think of golf in Mississippi, they are probably thinking of the Gulf Coast and the Biloxi area. But if you want to experience the best golf in the state, you’ll need to head about four hours north, past Jackson and Hattiesburg, to the little town of West Point, MS. That’s where you’ll find Old Waverly and Mossy Oak, two of the best golf course layouts in the state.
The George and Marcia Bryan family has an ownership stake in both courses and, if the Bryans have any say in it, West Point, MS will become one of the country’s most popular golf destinations. There aren’t many places you can go and play two Top 100 golf courses within a driver of each other. West Point, MS isn’t near any large city – Memphis is the closest and it’s 2 ½ hours away – so it provides a great sense of tranquility and solitude. However, it’s also a convenient location – most major southern cities can be reached by car in less than 4 hours, so you can drive over in the morning and get in an afternoon round.
Mossy Oak is one of the newest courses in the State of Mississippi and was built in conjunction with Toxey Haas, founder of the Mossy Oak brand. The course was designed by Gil Hanse, the world’s top minimalist golf course architect. In true Hanse style, not much dirt was moved to build the course; according to Co-Founder George Bryan, the work could have “been done with a mule and a plow.” However, the dirt that was moved helped to create the ponds you see as you make your way around the layout.
Mossy Oak is built on 180 acres of what used to be the Knob Hill Dairy Farm, complete with rolling terrain and significant elevation changes. One feature I found quite helpful was the guideposts that helped steer you toward the fairway on several blind tee shots. Elevated greens with tightly mowed surrounds make for challenging up and downs if you miss the green.
Two of the course’s more memorable holes are Numbers 3 and 4. Number 3 is a very short par 4 that plays 253 from the White Tees. Long ball hitters can have a go at the green; it plays uphill, so you’ll need to carry the ball about 275 yards off the tee. Whether you go for it off the tee or not, the deep, cavernous bunkers on either side of the fairway are an intimidating sight. Number 3 requires a very accurate approach shot; the green is its plateau. Anything not on the green will either drop off the grid behind the hole or find one of the bunkers. It’s a short but demanding hole!
Number 4 is Mossy Oak’s signature par 3. The hole plays 162 yards from the White Tees and is fronted by a massive bunker that sits well below the putting surface. You’ll need to carry the ball onto the green from the tee to avoid the false front. Find one of the two bunkers in front of the green and par just became a lot tougher!
Another challenging par 3 is the 11th hole. From the White Tees, the hole plays 224 yards and is all carry over water. The green is shallow and finding one of the two pot bunkers in the back can make for an intimidating sand shot with the lake looming in the background. Take a par and run!
Old Waverly across the street is not without its share of accolades. Old Waverly was designed by U.S. Open Champion Jerry Pate and Bob Cupp and has hosted many significant tournaments including the 1999 U.S. Women’s Open and 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur.
Old Waverly Golf Club captures the essence of the Scottish Highlands. It is routed around numerous lakes, the largest being Lake Waverly which you’ll encounter on the 18th hole. The course is highlighted by holes that place a premium on accuracy and shot making as well as a host of risk/reward shots, all while navigating through some of the most scenic views the Mississippi Black Prairie has to offer. You’ll find many deep and well-defined pot bunkers in the landing areas off the tees as well as greenside.
Number 7 at Old Waverly is aptly named Palmer Falls for the waterfalls and brook that trickle down the fairway on this uphill par 3. From the White Tees, this demanding par 3 plays 170 yards. Trees line the right side and there’s a pot bunker about 50 yards short of the green and a large, deep bunker on the right. Left of the green is a lot of mounding that can make for a tricky up and down.
Number 15 is a pretty par 5 that plays 447 yards from the White Tees. A creek meanders down the middle of the fairway in front of the tee and then continues down the left side. Play your drive down the right side and you’ll take the creek out of play. There’s a lake to the left of the green that needs to be avoided on your approach shot as do the two front left bunkers. Three good shots can yield a par…or better!
Number 18 plays 342 yards from the White Tees and is Old Waverly’s #1 handicapped hole. The lake creates a dogleg left and sets up a risk/reward opportunity off the tee. The more of the lake you carry off the tee, the shorter your approach shot is. The lone fairway bunker on the right side has seen its fair share of balls hit through the fairway by players avoiding the water. A good drive will leave a mid to short iron into a slightly elevated green protected by the water on the left and sand in every other direction. Par is a great way to end a memorable round!
Both Old Waverly and Mossy Oak offer accommodations. At Mossy Oak, guests stay in spacious cottages and villas directly on the golf course. Four-bedroom “cottages” give way to a large, spacious common area, each equipped with a giant flat-screen TV, tables for take-out dining, and comfortable furniture, as well as all the amenities you’d find at a first-class hotel.
Old Waverly offers several different options for your stay including two and three-bedroom condos with fully equipped kitchens. It’s like being at home, only you’re at a world-class golf facility.
When it comes to dining, guests have several options. All are located on the grounds of Old Waverly. Murphy’s is located on the lower level of the Clubhouse and is a great place to eat a casual lunch, watch the big game, play darts, or just relax with friends.
Cameron’s is the perfect place to relax and celebrate the end of the day or the beginning of the evening, depending on how you look at it. Cameron’s is reminiscent of a Scottish landowner’s library with its rich warmth complemented by a wide selection of fine cigars and wines as well as your favorite libations.
In the event your tastes are a little more discerning and you desire something a little more elegant, The Magnolia Room welcomes dinner guests with a panoramic view of Lake Waverly and the golf course.
The English Garden at Old Waverly provides the perfect setting for afternoon tea, an outdoor cocktail party, or a hearty barbecue feast. The highlight of the garden is the original smokehouse, where superb meats are prepared for even the most discriminating of tastes.
Old Waverly and Mossy Oak offer some tremendous packages that allow you to play both courses and experience everything they have to offer. For more information or to plan your next visit, visit their website. You can see both courses at www.oldwaverly.com.