If you want a Christmas triple treat — great weather, unforgettable golf and gambling on par with Las Vegas (some say it’s even better) — head south for winter to the Mississippi Gulf Coast and give yourself the gift of Fallen Oak.
Carved out of centuries-old oaks and marshland, this 7,487-yard track might be Tom Fazio’s best. Anywhere. And that’s saying something when you consider the designer’s body of work, including famed Shadow Creek outside Las Vegas and his hauntingly exquisite course at Pronghorn in Bend, Ore. At a minimum, Fallen Oak the golf course deserves to be included in the conversation, and when you figure the amazing clubhouse (the bar looking out over final fairway is a true 19th Hole) and amazing practice facility (where you can literally work on every type of shot you’ll find out there) into the mix, it’s tough to beat.
Fallen Oak was built as an exclusive amenity to the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Miss., where endless views into the Gulf of Mexico greet visitors in their guestrooms, and gaming ranges from slots and table games to one of the most comfortable poker rooms we’ve found — all operated up to MGM Resorts International high standards.
Of course, there’s more to the Biloxi-Gulfport area than just The Beau and Fallen Oak. For another course with Southern charm (and one that will test your skills), make the 30-minute drive out to Vancleave to play The Preserve, where U.S. Open champ Jerry Pate worked his interesting design into pure nature at the edge of an actual 1,800-acre preserve.
All in all — y’all — the Mississippi Gulf Coast might be the most underrated golf-and-gaming destination in the country, and that’s one of the reasons we like it: The best-kept secrets are always the most rewarding.