The night before I played here a line of storms blew through and in anticipation that things might be a little wet and muddy I didn’t make a tee time anywhere. My original plan was to play 36 holes, but by the time I got moving and made a couple calls I wouldn’t have teed off somewhere until 10:30am. Then I would have had to rush to squeeze in my round at Shell Landing which was one of the courses in the area that I really wanted to play. I had a leisurely morning and got a 1:20pm twilight rate for $47. I liked the earlier twilight here with the shorter days compared with the other courses where twilight starts at 2pm.
Shell Landing is south of I-10 and east of Biloxi on Highway 90 so, like the other courses that I played, it is easy to get to. The course is a Davis Love III design and is currently ranked by Golf.com as the 5th best public course in Mississippi. This was my second favorite course of the four that I played in Mississippi this trip as there are some standout holes. For reference I played the Snapping tees at 73.8/134/7024.
The 1st hole doglegs around the trees and from there the course has a nice stretch of secluded holes that work their way through the marsh and pines. The 3rd is a par 5 where the layup is the most important shot as it sets up an approach to the green which is over water. The 4th is a 367 yard par 4 and it has a waste bunker down the left side. The long waste bunker is a feature that I like as it helps keep a wayward shot out of trouble while still challenging someone on the next shot. It seems a bit like a runaway trunk ramp because it slows the ball down on the run or allows it to land soft before going into the woods. In addition, I think the waste bunker adds an aesthetic element to the hole. The 6th, a 412 yard par 4, is one of the two signature holes as it has a forced carry to the fairway guarded by marsh all down the left side of the hole to the green. While playing it I paused for a few extra minutes to take in the beauty of the area. If I ranked individual golf holes throughout the year the 6th would be high on the list. The 7th is a short par 5 that is a good risk/reward hole. The fairway pinches the farther someone hits the tee shot and there is a hazard that could come into play if someone is going for the green in two. The 8th is the first of two 220+ yard par 3’s, and while long, it still allowed someone a chance to hit the massive green and earn a par with a two putt.
I thought that the back nine was tighter, especially off the tee, and therefore played tougher for my game. In addition, the back nine had some semi-blind shots which I don’t care for. The 10th is a 394 yard par 4 with an approach that is played over some high mounds in the fairway. The mounds block the view of the green and that shot felt very similar to the approach at the 10th hole at The Tribute where I played in September. The 11th is a 220 yard par 3 with another large green. There is plenty of room to miss and the green has a five foot rise to a back tier. There is some slope behind the back tier which allows someone to get creative to get it close. The other par 3 on the back, the 17th, is the other signature hole. The hole is 193 yards and plays over the marsh to a green framed by pine trees and bunkers. I hit a horrible shot and ended up in the marsh, but any decent shot should carry the trouble so it is another fair hole.
For the most part I found the layout player friendly. A little touch, such as marking all the trouble as hazards, reflect a desire to cater to the average golfer. It bothers me when I don’t know if something is a hazard until I get up to where I think my ball should be. The fairways were generous considering the lay of the land and there were plenty of cleared out spots off the fairways to find a wild shot. One thing that I didn’t like about the design is that most of the par 4’s were the same length. Out of the 10 par 4’s there was only one shorter than 394 yards and one longer than 418 yards so there wasn’t as much variety as I like to see. I would call the conditions average and would have liked to see it in better shape. Like the other courses that I played, the tees were overseeded, but that was not a bother. The greens were the slowest of the four courses that I played in the area and were slower than they looked. They rolled well, but I had to think about hitting it firm enough to make it. Chips didn’t roll out as planned and the slopes on the greens, such as the 11th, did not play as intended because of the slow greens. The course is enough of an experience that I would have played knowing all of this, but I couldn’t get a putt to the hole all day. The fairways were nice and the white sand in the bunkers made the green complexes “pop”. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Shell Landing and it goes as my favorite Davis Love III design out of the three or four courses that I have played.
#6 green looking back:
#9 green looking back: