I called a couple courses and The Bridges, which is not too far from the LA/MS state line, said the earliest that I could get out was 12:30pm and that the twilight rate started at 2pm. Since I was staying in Biloxi it made the most sense to play here on my way to or from Biloxi as the course is about 45 minutes west of town. I left New Orleans mid-morning which meant that I had some time to kill. The Bridges is in Bay St. Louis and I rolled into town a little before noon and decided that I would explore, get some lunch, and try to get out a bit early for the twilight rate. I saw a road named “Beach Blvd” and just figured that I would end up seeing some nice beaches. Off to my left was the bay and miles of unspoiled beaches with only a couple folks out and about. I noticed something odd off to the right though which was that most of the homes looked new and that many of the lots were vacant. As I went along I noticed overgrown driveways leading to nowhere and old foundations from where homes had been. When I put it all together I realized that Hurricane Katrina caused the damage to the area. With a little research I found that Katrina made landfall in Bay St. Louis and had brought 20+ feet of storm surge which wiped out most of the beach front property. So, off to my left was the beautiful, peaceful beach and off to the right was a somber reminder of the devastation that the area saw over eight years ago. I drove maybe four or five miles stopping to take it all in before I got a sandwich and headed over to the course.
The Bridges is an Arnold Palmer design and is associated with the nearby Hollywood Casino which is visible from the course. The course is adjacent to the bay and a couple of the holes on the front nine run out near it. I have played maybe a half dozen other Palmer designs and it is 50/50 if I like the course. The course was on my list because of the good reviews and a reasonable $49 twilight rate. I decided to play the “King’s Tees”, which are the tips and play 6841/73.4/137, and anticipated that I would be in for a long day to the high slope. I waited for a few groups to tee off before I put a tee in the ground at a quarter to two. The course plays through the wetlands and many of the holes are lined by the natural pine trees. As the name of the course may indicate there are a lot of cart path bridges throughout the course so that gives an idea of the type of golf to expect. I would classify the course as target golf with some forced carries. A shot offline is probably going into a hazard. Because of this, the strategy would be to hit whatever club is needed to find the ball. It would have helped if I was a scratch golfer who could play a baby draw or fade on every shot as the course is just that demanding. A couple times I played 40 feet away from the flag with a short iron and one time I laid it up on a par from 200 yards in the fairway just to avoid a big number. The course has some deep greens which could vary the club selection by up to as much as four clubs, but I found the slopes on the greens to feed the ball towards the hole. So, many times if the distance was correct an approach could be played away from the flag and end up feeding a bit closer. I count seven holes with hazards that played at angles across parts of the hole. Because of the angle, trouble short, long, left, and right is brought into play with a mishit which make it tough to pick the right club. There are some demanding, but memorable holes. The 1st is a 543 yard par 5 with a tee shot that set up quite a bit like the 1st at Old Silo in Kentucky where I played earlier this year. The carry over the bunkers gets longer the farther right someone tries to go off the tee. This brings the trouble left into play with a pull. The 3rd is a 165 yard par 3 over a hazard and half of the hole has a bridge for the cart path. The 4th is a 384 yard par 4 with trouble left off the tee and then trouble short and right of the green. The 7th is a 188 yard par 3 that plays to a green that is fat in the front but narrows as it angles to the left. Someone has to hit a draw to get to the back left flag or play to the fat of the green. The 8th is a wonderful short par 4. It is 283 yards, but a played a bit shorter in a straight line to the flag. The hole heads out towards the bay with the marsh down the right and behind the green so its really scenic. Someone can drive the green but it requires a 230 yard carry over some target bunkers. The trouble with that play is trying to keep it from kicking off the downslope into the marsh behind the green. It is a birdie hole but offers different ways to do it. The back is more demanding as it plays longer and I think is a bit tighter. The 11th is a 530 yard par with a hazard that affects the approach and a green that is elevated with trouble right. The 12th is a par 3 that is similar to the 7th. It is 190 yards and plays to another green that angles left and gets narrower as the green gets deeper. The flag was in the back left when I played so I hit it to the fat of the green and tried unsuccessfully for a long two putt par. The 14th is another good short par 4 that needs an accurate layup off the tee before the course closes with some tough holes. The 15th is a long par 3 and the 16th is a long par 4 with a intimidating tee shot. There is some room left on the 16th which I unfortunately didn’t pay attention to when playing the 11th so it is a bit more open than looks from the tee. The 17th has water all down the right off the tee and the 18th is a 590 yard par 5.
The course was in great shape with only a couple maintenance concerns that didn’t affect play. There was a thin layer of sand on the greens and the tees were a bit long. However, I think this is the time of year when the courses start to overseed. The fairways were in good shape and I had to be aware if the ball was above or below my feet. The 6th fairway was the only fairway that was either over-watered or didn’t drain well. The course was filled with wildlife (I even saw an alligator in the water) and doesn’t have any homes around it so if someone can overlook the difficultly I’d put this as a “must play” course on golf trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Some pictures from Beach Blvd before the course pics:
#7 looking back: