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The Clarion-Ledger: Mossy Oak set to open September 2nd

August 4th, 2016

Author: Tyler Cleveland
WEST POINT George Bryan remembers playing as a child on the dairy farm on Old Waverly Road in West Point. He and his brother Jimmy walked the hills of the property, then owned by the White family. More than 50 years later, hes about to turn it into one of Americas greatest golf courses  a 7,200-yard, par-72 course designed by renowned architect Gil Hanse. Itll be called Mossy Oak Golf Course, and its set to open in less than a month on Sept. 2. (Hanse) thinks in three years, itll look (like) its been there 50 years, Bryan said. Thats what you do when you dont move a lot of dirt. This property was so pretty, and we wanted it to retain its natural shape. And they did just that. Almost every decision Hanse and Bryan made about the course had playability and natural beauty in mind. They removed just one tree from the 180-acre property, brought the little dirt they added from the bottom of one of the three ponds and got the dirt for each of the 95 sand traps from the bottom of the nearby Tombigbee River. Bryan is no stranger to course-building. He opened Old Waverly in 1988, then lured the Women's U.S. Open to West Point in 1999. For Mossy Oak, Hanse was Bryans first choice of architect, and he was available at the right time, having just completed work on the Olympic golf course in Rio de Janeiro. The course itself is going to be challenging for every level of golfer with opportunities for some interesting shots. Take the three-hole stretch to start the back nine  a perfect example of everything Mossy Oak should offer golfers. The 10th is a high-risk, high-reward 350-yard par 4 with four bunkers and one tree to dissuade golfers from trying to cut the corner on a fairway that snakes uphill and to the right into a wide-open green with a beautiful view of most of the grounds. The 11th is a 230-yard par 3 (145 from the senior tees) with a shot over a pond into a green that slopes back toward the water. Three more bunkers sit on the side of the hill behind, challenging players not to hit too much club. That hole gives way to the 12th, a monstrous 610-yard par 5 with one of the prettiest views on the track, until its time to hit the ball. Then, the golfer faces a wide-open fairway with still more bunkers with which to contend. The grounds also house the new Mississippi State University practice facility with a five-green driving range, short-game training areas and a 16,000 square-foot putting green formed into the shape of the state of Mississippi. The 12-acre set-aside also has a 6,400 square-foot team clubhouse with locker rooms, a players lounge, coaches offices, an indoor putting center and several other amenities. We wanted to do this in 2006 or 2008, Bryan said. They wouldnt sell us the property at the time, so we started looking about six miles down the road. Then boom, the recession hit. We had to put it on the shelf for a while. Then in 2012 this property came on the market. Opening day is going to be low-key and geared towards to 72 founding members. Theyll host a professional exhibition with 10 pro players in the morning and have a shotgun start round after lunch. After that, Mossy Oak will be open to the public. Rack rates during the preview period this fall will be $132 for walkers and $150 for a round with a cart. Walkers get a caddy and riders will get a forecaddie. Other rates are available for weekend and weekday overnight stays. I think there was talk about making it an all-walking course, Mossy Oak spokesman Gary Billington said. I think wed of liked to have done it that way, but its just not feasible because of how hot it is during the summer. Its still going to be a great course for walking because of the layout, so were going to encourage it.