Mossy Oak Golf: One with Nature.

A few weeks back Will, Tucker and myself made plans to play at Mossy Oak before the football game Saturday. Our friend Thomas, who is the Operations Manager there, got us our tee time and was going to play with us, but he stayed up too late working on his house remodel. Tucker decided to head to Auburn for their football game against LSU, which left me and Will as the last men standing. Both of us were staying in Starkville so we meet up at 7:45 to make the 15-minute drive to West Point. I haven’t played the course in over a year and Will tells me a lot has changed in that amount of time. As we turn off of Waverly Rd, I notice that the 5 cottages have been completed along the 10th fairway. Each cottage offers 4 separate bedrooms with two queen beds in each room, a spacious living room, wet bar, and patios just a few feet off the fairway

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Cottages on #9.

. A new 9 hole putting green has been built next to them which would be great for evening putting contests on a boy’s trip. The cart barn has been completed and an impressive, bronze mule deer statue watches over the parking lot. We park the car and before we can even get out, Ty has brought our cart over and has us set up. The new clubhouse behind number 9 and 18 greens is in the beginning stages, with the building pad ready for foundation work. From what I’ve heard it is going to be incredible. For right now the Pro Shop is home base and is full of merchandise. They’ve got you covered with everything Peter Millar, LinkSoul, and A-Head. It takes a stronger man than myself to not snag something every time I pay a visit. I couldn’t resist a sweet Peter Millar  MSU/Mossy Oak polo.

The range and practice green are a few steps from the first tee, pointing you back toward the road and the Mississippi State Golf Team facility at the opposite end of the range. Needless to say, we needed a few warm up balls after hanging out at the Bin 612 on Friday night. It didn’t take long to get loose since it was already about 85 degrees.

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A view down the range and the MSU Golf facility at the other end.

We decide to play the tips as usual. We both have the feeling that we are both good enough players and long enough that we need to play it deep. From the back the course plays a par 72 and a healthy 7,212 yards. Our friendly wager is $1 a hole and $2 birdies to keep things simple and our wallets relatively safe. I get 4 shots on him since he is a 1.8 and I’m carrying a 5.8. I tee it up first and put one in the native grass on the left side. Brewer kindly allows for a breakfast ball and it finds the left edge of the rough. The 1st is a long, rolling, 465-yard Par 4, that plays from an elevated tee to a raised landing area in the fairway. To the left is all native grass, a lone Oak Tree just before the top of the hill and one bunker about 50 yard shy of the tree. The right is more open with two small bunkers at the top of the hill, opposite the oak tree, and a few thinned pines. Brewer hits both of his drives wayward and is forced to drop by my second ball, taking a penalty.  I hit an iron on to the front part of the green but am kindly informed by Will that I will have about 100 feet for birdie.

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Will hitting his breakfast ball on #1 tee.

Will hits his 4th shot and it just over the lip of the left greenside bunker. We get up to the green and it looks like a lake with small waves all over it. There are so many intricacies to each putting surface that it makes reading them tougher than their speed. I hit a pretty good lag putt to about 6 feet, but miss my par putt coming back and settle for the dreaded three-putt bogey. Will has no stance, but puts the ball back in his stance and tries to play a chunk and run. He executes it well and makes his 6-footer for a double moving me to 1 up. The 2nd is another meaty Par 4 that plays 485 yards. We both hit nice drives and have mid irons into the green. The 2nd and 5th fairways are joined, which is a common theme Gill has implemented here.

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The 2nd green and beyond.

The initial thought may be that of more room for error but there are bunkers scattered throughout and come into play on multiple holes. I leave my second pin high but a little right, leaving me a testy pitch coming back. Will leaves his iron shot about 5 yards short and is left with a fairly routine chip. I should have grabbed a pitching wedge to play a bump and run but I snagged the log wedge and hit a nice spinner into about 3 feet. Brewer, having caddied out here for a year in grad school, knows the place as well as anyone I know so he definitely knew the read. He pulled his putt a touch and settles for a bogie. I knock my par putt in and pick up another stroke heading into the tricky short Par 4 3rd.

I like nothing more than a 299-yard Par 4, unless of course I hit a 6 iron into the trees right. There are 80 yards safe to the left but I decide to leave it right. Will hits an iron dead down the center like you are supposed to. We find my ball amongst a bunch of shrubs, leaving me no choice but to try and punch out 90 degrees right. I manage to strike my wedge clean and hit it 70 yards into the 5th fairway. I hit my approach just over the green, allowing me to see all of the real estate this hole has to offer. Brewer threads a wedge in close to the perched green guarded by five green side bunkers and an overhanging oak tree. Will misses his birdie try but makes a routine par. I on the other hand hit an average pitch from where I was, leaving me 15 feet for bogey. I miss and settle for a double bogey on a hole that I was popping on…that hurts. The tee box for the Par 3 4th sits a few yards behind the 3rd green.

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We have 184 yards, over native grass to a back-hole location on a green protected by bunkers on the front and both sides. Long can put you onto the next tee box but not in complete jail. Will misses the green a touch long and I miss short right but each of us get up and down for par. I’m still in the lead but the match will soon tighten up. The Par 5, 5th hole plays 622 yards from the elevated back tee. The tee box sits about 40 feet above the joined fairway. Will hammers a drive right over the three fairway bunkers. I unintentionally take an alternative route by blocking my drive into the 13th fairway that is separated by a creek. The lack of trees and a three-shot hole allows me to hit a three wood back to the middle of the correct fairway. Will nukes a driving iron right next to my ball, giving us both great looks at the flag. After decent approaches and two-putts we each walk away with par. I truly love this hole, it’s long but it is wide open so you can take some chances with your tee shot. It will be a topic of conversation on the podcast for sure. We drive the cart right up to the tee on number 6, don’t freak out, you can drive your cart everywhere except the green out here because of the minimalist approach to cart paths. Will kindly informs me that the 430-yard Par 4 is not a driver hole, so I take three wood and just catch the fairway with a weak, wipey fade. Will on the other hand, smokes his Taylormade R11 down the left side leaving a 50-yard gap between us. The weakness creeps into my 5-iron, as I leave it short in the front right green side bunker. My opponent sticks a short iron to about 12 feet giving him another look at birdie.

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The look when you go straight under a bunker shot.

My ball is on the very back edge of the bunker, but there is no back lip, just a large one in the front. I open the face wide open, because the flag is about 8 paces onto the green, and take a huge swing….but the ball goes nowhere. I haven’t gone straight under a bunker shot in I don’t know how long, so in frustration I skull it over the green and onto the 7th tee box. Somehow, I manage to get up and down for my double which is a decent consolation prize I guess. Brewer, of course, makes his par and brings the match to all square.

The 7th is another Par 5 that plays 600 yards but again, if you hit the fairway you will be rewarded. At about the 275 yard mark the hole turns hard to the left and goes down hill about 35-40 feet, funneling everything down to the left into a collection area just shy of the creek running across the fairway. Both of us hit the fairway and hit solid layups to inside of 100 yards.

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The look back at #7 from the lay-up area.

Gill placed a large bunker on the right side of the fairway where most people will try to lay up as well as two bunkers that guard the front left and sides of the “eight shaped” green. We both hit the green in regulation but will wins the putting contest walking away with a par and myself a bogey. Again, I was popping on the number 1 handicap hole, so the score remains tied. Side note, Will is putting with a 1990’s model Scotty Cameron Studio that Thomas used when he was a kid. Nothing like getting out putted by a guy that threw someone else’s putter in the bag right before the round. The 8th is another one of my favorite holes, even though my score won’t reflect that. The 375-yard Par 4 plays straight away and turns up the hill about 65 yards shy of the green. You have a choice either hit driver/three wood over the creek which takes about 255 to clear or take a long iron and lay short of the creek and have a little over 150 into the green. There are some bunkers in the fairway where your drive could end up if hit well. Coming off back to back 6’s I play it safe and hit a 4 iron perfectly, finishing just behind the 150-yard stake. Will once again hammers his three-wood clear over the creek, down the left side, leaving him just a lob wedge into the green. I push another iron to the right, but luckily there are no bunkers around the green. Will hits a perfect wedge to about 8 feet and he is officially grooving it. A poor chip and 3 putts land me in the double bogey circle once again. Will misses another birdie and I thought he was going to send Thomas’ putter to Davy Jones locker, but cooler heads prevail when he realizes he’s taken the lead. Just one thing after another that I love about this course. We wrap up the front with a short par 3. Today it’s playing down wind so club selection is key when hitting into this rectangular green that runs perpendicular to you on the tee. There are three gnarly bunkers short of the green and one over the green that is absolutely jail. The green has a bowl in the middle that feeds from both sides and the flag is placed in the middle of it. I hit a gap wedge straight over the flag to about 20 feet, my first real chance at birdie on the entire 9. Will leaves his 54 degree a little short and left but catches the putting surface. He has an extremely fast and tricky put down the hill and swinging into the bowl. He runs it about 10 feet by, and has a tough putt back for par. I just miss my birdie putt and make my par putt coming back for my first par since number 5. Will just misses his par closing out a front 9 score of 40. I shoot 44 with 3 doubles so all things considered it could be much worse. Somehow the match is even going into the tough back nine.

These next two holes are two of my favorites on the property. As Will described it to me, you can’t look at the 10th and 11th as a separate Par 4 and Par 3, but a Par 7. That may make you scratch your head but ultimately if you walk away with a 7 you have done well. The Par 4 10th only plays 311 yards from the back but is a 90-degree dog legged right, with the 5 cottages a few paces off the fairway on the left-hand side. The green is shaped like Pacman and has a bunker right in the mouth of it and another behind it making the back right pin impossible to get to from the tee with a driver. The left side of the green is accessible with a perfect tee shot, but your putt will be tough. We both elect to hit an iron into the fairway leaving us wedges into this tucked pin. I thought I had hit a perfect sand wedge right at the flag, but it hopped over the back of the green. Will stuck his into about 6 feet, giving him another great look at birdie. I chunk my chip, barely getting it on the green and two-putt from about fifteen feet. I get out of Will’s way as he reads his birdie putt. Somehow, he doesn’t convert it but takes his par and a one-point lead again.

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Brewer hitting his tee shot on the Par 3 11th.

The 11th might be the most picturesque hole on the golf course. On the card it is listed at 250 from the tips but on this day, it was one tee box up and playing a modest 224 yards. The hole runs perpendicular to the far bank of the large lake, leaving you no bail out room short left or right. It is a full forced carry into this multi teared green, and if that’s not enough there are two large bunkers on the side of the hill long, keeping you from clubbing up to make sure to cover the distance. The hole also plays with your eyes because the green looks to be way lower than the tee, but in reality, it is only downhill a few yards. We both hit 4 iron and find the green. Brewer’s chunk hook barely clears the water but runs up perfectly to about 10 feet. I hit a nice high fade that ends up a little right of the flag and about 20 feet away. The story of the day was the flat stick, I just never got a feel for the lines. I three putt another hole while Will makes his routine par, picking up another shot on me. The Par 5 12th is a nasty hole that is the 2nd hardest on the golf course.

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It plays 587 yards from an elevated tee that backs up to Waverly Road. The tee shot is challenging with only about 5 yards of native grass between the fairway and OB on the left and three large fairway bunkers on the right where the fairway starts to neck down. There is a creek that cuts diagonal to the right across the fairway around 150 yards out which comes into play on your 2nd shot. Will and I both spray our tee balls, mine to the right and into one of the bunkers and Will on the cart path down the left. We both recover nicely with our second shots but after that there isn’t much to speak for me. I cold top a hybrid from 235 yards out and it goes into the hazard down the right side. I go looking down the creek’s edge for my ball and see a large cottonmouth swimming alongside me so I decide to abandon my search and take a drop. My 5th shot finds the green and I settle for a miserable seven on a hole I had a stroke on. This green has one of the most dramatic false fronts’ I’ve ever seen, if you hit anything into the middle of the green it will roll back to the bottom of the hill. Brewer continues to make pars, pushing his lead to 3.

13 puts a lot of pressure on your drive, and at only 358 yards, 4-iron is the play off the tee for me. Will hits another nuked driving iron putting us within 10 yards of each other straight down the middle. From there we hit matching wedge shots about 15 feet short of the back-hole location. When the pin is back on this green, you can not afford to fly it to the flag stick because it will kick off the back and into the hazard that is a mere 5 paces behind you. We both make our 4’s and head to the long Par 4 14th.  This is just a beast of a par 4, I hit my drive about 290 down the right side and still had 200 into the green because I was on the wrong side of the fairway. I hit the green with my 2nd but it takes the slope running away from the hole, leaving me 60 feet for birdie. Will completely flew the green directly behind the slope that I just mentioned, forcing him to try and flop it right on top of it so it will trickle down the hole. He does a great job just to keep it on the green, and two putts for a nice 5 all things considered. Me on the other hand am considering getting “three-putt” stamped on the back of the Scotty Cameron I want to get. 15 is another mean par 3, that plays 223 on the card but more like 205 today. It is up hill, three bunkers on the left of the green, two short and on the right, before you get to a large down slope. There is native grass in front, to the left by the bunkers and behind this green, putting even more emphasis on a GIR. Will once again flies the green into the native grass long and left, forcing him to drop and take a stroke penalty. I hit mine pin high but a little right leaving me in the rough on the hill. My pitch some how checks up out of a buried lie and I make my two-putt bogey from there. Will also two putts carding a five, giving me my first win on the side. The 16th tee box is right behind the last green side bunker on the right side of the 15th green so you have to alternate watching out for a wayward tee shot from behind you. Luckily, they all missed into the left bunkers so we were not in danger. The dog legged right hole plays 414 yards and presents you with two options off the tee. You can play out to the fat part of the fairway left of the bunkers and shy of the dog leg, or you can take on the bunkers and carry them, bringing the native wasteland into play with a block. Hitting only my third driver of the nine I play it safe, leaving myself about 145 yards into the green. Will bombs it clear over the bunkers with a 1-yard draw, giving him less than 100 yards into the green. I fan a 9 iron into the back, right corner of the right green side bunker. Go figure, Will makes another par from inside 100 yards and I make a bogey from the greenside bunker. We walk from the green right down to the 17th tee box and stare down the last Par 5 of the day.

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Will lining up his tee shot on the 17th. You can see how big the greenside bunker is to the left of the green in the distance .

We both hit good drives on this deceptive 525-yard hole. The green is elevated about 30 feet with the hill in front that starting up about 70 yards short. I hit a chunk and run 4-iron from 225 yards straight into the hill. Will hits the green in two and makes a nice two-putt birdie and thinks he’s safe. I hit it to about 20 feet with my 3rd and two-putt for my Par. I’m popping for the last time and make a net birdie keeping Will’s lead at three going into the last hole.

The home hole makes me cringe just thinking about it. The 458-yard Par 4, provides you an uphill tee shot that moves right to left. Once you get to the top of the hill, the hole drops down and then back up the green with a lake and green side bunker on the left and a narrow bunker behind the arrow shaped green.

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The tee shot on the 18th.

Will hits his drive wide right into the native area and I pull mine left into the opposite native area. So, we both play a lost ball from our respective tee shots. I am forced to hit a hook around the lone oak tree that guards the green from tee shots on the left side of the fairway. The ball doesn’t hook and is headed to the string of bunkers 60 yards right of the green. Fortunately, I stay out of them and have a pretty good angle at the green. Brewer hits a beautiful iron out of the fairway bunker he dropped into, and lands on the green. I leave my pitch short, chip up and two-putt for a lovely triple bogey to end my round of 89. Will, two putts for a bogey and picks up one last stroke on me. We shake hands and head to the Pro Shop to cool off and settle up. I shoot an 89 and Will shoots an 80. With birdies and the 4 holes, I end up owing will $14, which honestly was better than I thought it would be. Did I think we would both score better? Absolutely, but once again I thoroughly enjoyed being on the golf course. Since starting Tight Lies, I have found that to be a common theme, regardless of my score, I am focusing more on my surroundings and the people I am with.

 

I can not speak enough to the incredible property that is Mossy Oak Golf Club. There is truly no other golf course like this within 8 hours and because of that it garnered the recognition as the #3 New Course by Golf Digest in 2017. Gill Hanse did an incredible job routing this course so naturally around the old dairy farm that was here. The visuals almost give you sensory overload causing you to forget you are in the Hills of Mississippi. Though the property is expansive, you feel connected to all of the other groups because of the ability to see so many holes at any given place on the course. If you stand on the 7th tee, you are able to see all 18 pins on the course. The slogan for the course is “Nature’s Golf” which is so fitting, due to the native areas, winding creeks and the overall magnitude of the landscape. Couple the incredible course, with the top-notch accommodations and the ability to access the well-known Old Waverly across the street truly makes this a golf destination. Every time I come back the places just gets better and better and I can’t for my next trip back. I’m going to rate it a 9.3/10, yes that is a high score, but the quality of golf is top notch. I hit every club in my bag, there are multiple approaches to almost all the holes, the green complexes are so intricate, and the overall design incredible.

To make your tee time or find out more about this special place in West Point, MS, check out the link below.

Mossy Oak Golf

Stay out of the Tight Lies,

Webb

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