Review: The Oaks Golf Club

Course Name: The Oaks Golf Club

Designer: Dr. Gil Morgan (1998)

Location: Pass Christian, Mississippi

History: Originally designed in 1998 by PGA Tour Pro Gil Morgan, The Oaks hosted the Nike and Buy.com Tour in 1999 and 2000, and Q School in 2003. It is regarded as one of the better public courses in Mississippi, but is not currently ranked in any official publications.

Conditions: 8/10, Although I played in March, The Oaks was already in great shape. The fairways, bunkers, and teeboxes are well-manicured and the greens roll fast and true.

Value: 9/10, The Oaks offers pretty incredible value, at only $35 for a cart and eighteen. It gets a bit pricier on weekends and holidays but if anything this course is underpriced.

Scorecard:

Tee                     Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Gold                   72          7006               74.6              140

Blue                   72          6354               71.3              130

White                 72          5778               67.4              118

Green                 72          5320               70.6              120

Red                     72          4691                67.1             113

Hole Descriptions: The Oaks is a solid design with eighteen strong yet not amazing holes meandering through tall timberlands. The Mississippi coastline isn’t blessed with the best golf topography, but Gil Morgan did his best with what he had to work with.

The opening hole eases you into your round as a rather vanilla 343 yard par 4.  Lined by tall timberlands on both sides and a bunker on the right at 225 yards, hitting the fairway here is of the utmost importance. This two-tiered green is guarded by a deep bunker on the left and runs back-to-front. The 2nd hole rightfully deserves its number 1 handicap from the 452 yard Tips, but plays much easier from the 341 yard Blue tees. This is a tight dogleg left with hidden bunkers on the right at 180 yards and left at 215 yards. This approach plays uphill to a large green guarded by bunkers on either side.

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The par 4 2nd

The 381 yard 3rd hole is a tight one, with thick forests lining both sides of this slight dogleg right. A new neighborhood was being built just right of the trees and my playing partner hit one inside one of the houses. You’ll find well-placed bunkers on the right at 210 yards and left at 255 yards. This green juts out on the right and requires a carry over two deep short bunkers. The 4th is another short tight dogleg. At just 337 yards, this hole bends to the left with a tight fairway lined by bunkers on the left at 180 yards and right at 240 yards. This kidney-shaped green features two tiers and is guarded by a bunker short right. After a string of par fours to start, the 5th is the first par 3 at 161 yards. This pretty hole plays over a hazard to a wide yet shallow green guarded by a deep bunker short.

At 517 yards, the par 5 6th is a tough dogleg left that requires three accurate shots. I believe this hole is modeled after the famous 13th at Augusta National with the dogleg at 290 yards and final approach playing over a creek.  This long, narrow green runs back-to-front with a bunker on the left. The par 3 7th is another memorable hole at 172 yards. Requiring an epic carry over water the entire way, this all-or-nothing one shotter features a shallow boomerang-shaped green guarded by a bunker short.

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The gorgeous par 3 7th

The short 485 yard par 5 8th feels like it belongs on a Rees Jones course with an immediate forced carry of 135 yards to a treelined fairway. This hole slides to the right the entire way with bunkers on either side of this green and lay-up area.

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The forced carry on the 8th

The closing hole on the front 9 is a narrow straightaway 388 yard par 4 that requires another forced carry of 200 yards over a hazard. A bunker on the right fairway at 235 yards is probably a popular destination. This long narrow green is guarded by a bunker on the left.

At just 472 yards, the 10th is another reachable par 5 with plenty of danger along the way. This is a picturesque driving hole with an elevated teebox and downhill drive of at least 190 yards to carry more wasteland. The second half of this hole plays as a Cape with a hazard running down the right side and a green jutting out over the hazard. Two small bunkers guard short of this shallow undulating green. I thought the 11th was a fascinating hole. At a strong 403 yards, this par 4 has OB lining the entire left side and a fairway that narrows as you near the green. A bunker guards the right side at 240 yards. This fairway narrows to almost nothing by the time you reach the green, with water creeping in from the right. This effectively makes this punchbowl green play as an island.  At 152 yards, the par 3 12th is another gorgeous hole somewhat diminished due to the fact that it’s almost a carbon copy of the 7th. In fact, the par threes all play short-to-mid iron and do very little to stand out. This hole plays over water the entire way to a small green lined by a cavernous bunker short.

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The intimidating 12th

The 13th is a confusing hole the first time you play it. It’s not readily apparent where the green on this dogleg right is from the teebox, and all you can see in front of you is hazard for the first 190 yards. A bunker on the left at 220 yards and more water on the right further complicate things. This fairway doglegs right about 260 yards off the tee.

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The 13th approach

At 331 yards, the 14th is the shortest par 4 at The Oaks but it would take a heroic drive to reach this green. This narrow fairways slopes left with a pair of bunkers on the right between 240 and 280 yards. The left side of this hole is dead, especially the closer you are to this green. The straightaway 520 yard 15th is the longest hole on the course and again plays over a forced carry of 190 yards. A bunker at 240 yards on the right and some trees on the left at 280 yards are the only other dangers. The 16th is the final and least interesting par 3 at 163 yards. This hole is completely surrounded by trees and features a large green guarded by a bunker short. The closing two holes are a pair of strong par fours that demand good ball-striking. The 17th plays straightaway at 396 yards with well-placed bunkers on either side of a narrow fairway. This green slopes right-to-left as a Redan with a bunker short left. The 18th is a beast, playing severely uphill as the longest par 4 on the course at 411 yards. This hole plays straightaway to a tight fairway lined by trees on both sides and a bunker on the right at 225 yards. This approach plays at least one club extra to a long green lined by bunkers on either side.

General Comments: The Oaks’ clubhouse is beautiful and has a real country club feel to it with a busy patio out back. The practice facilities are also commendable with a large practice green and grass range. Pace of play was fantastic, as we played in 3.5 hours.

Verdict: The Oaks is one of the better public courses in Mississippi and offers conditioning and prices that can’t be beat. Anybody visiting the Biloxi-Gulport-Slidell area should keep an eye out for this course.


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