Shell Landing: Take it slow and enjoy one of the top golf courses in the Biloxi area

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

GAUTIER, Miss. — It's hard to dislike a golf course that sports a sign saying: "Slow — gopher tortoise refuge."

Shell Landing - Top-tier Course in Biloxi
Shell Landing is one of the top-tier courses in the Biloxi area.
Shell Landing - Top-tier Course in BiloxiShell Landing - Forced CarriesShell Landing - Wood Bridges
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Shell Landing Golf Club

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3499 Shell Landing Blvd.
Gautier, MS 39553
Phone(s): (228) 497-5683, 1 (866) 851-0541
18 Holes | Public golf course | Par: 72 | 7024 yards | ... details »

How can you go slower than a gopher tortoise? What's their top speed — faster than a glacier but slower than a three-toed sloth? They don't make carts that slow.

Even without the sign, Shell Landing is an easy course to like, even love. It's one of the top-tier golf courses in the Biloxi area, a Davis Love III work that incorporates large, contoured greens — averaging about 12,000 square feet — with arguably more undulation than any other greens around.

"This is definitely my favorite course in these parts," said Thomas Killearney, a rare tourist from Michigan who played the course recently. "It's hard, but I just love those greens. And I think it's one of the prettier courses around."

It is a visually appealing course, with scads of marsh and only a few homes to distract from the scenery. The fairways have excellent movement to them and there are quite a few trees, but mostly around the perimeter of the course, so that a nice, airy feel results.

Shell Landing, though it sits south of both Interstate 10 as well as U.S. Highway 90, was one of the Biloxi-area courses least affected by Hurricane Katrina, mainly because its elevation is a little higher than the surrounding areas.

The creeks and marshes that surround the course did rise dramatically during the storm. Little wind or tree damage resulted, but the rising waters did ruin the golf carts, and the club had to close for a month.

It has a great collection of par 3s, like the 176-yard second hole, with a steep slope left of the green that begs for a draw. No. 8 is 228 yards from the back tees, over marsh and bunkers and No. 11 is another long two-shotter — 220 yards with a lake and wetlands left — and a mounded green that will seriously test your putting stroke.

There are other memorable holes on the 7,024-yard layout. It's quite a bite from back there; moving up to the forward tees gives you better angles to the fairways and takes away most of the forced carries, though you'll still have trouble getting up and down if you miss the greens.

Water is in play on eight of the holes and Love used the 72 bunkers on the course well.

Shell Landing: The verdict

Golf Digest named Shell Landing among the country's best new courses when it opened, as well as the fifth in the best new upscale club category for 2003, the only one in the top five in the South.

They are well-deserved accolades. The course prides itself on its conditioning: I've played it several times now and found the conditioning superb and consistent.

The greens in particular are excellent, and about as challenging as you want as an amateur. Like most architects, Love designed this course from the back tees, and it is more fun from back there, but only if you have the length off the tee. Otherwise, the forced carries will force your score to balloon.

The club has a 25-acre practice facility, and green fees range from $55-$99 depending on the season.

Biloxi hotels

The Beau Rivage is the biggest and wealthiest of the Biloxi casinos.

It's always crowded, even at a time when Biloxi wants and needs visitors. It's a huge place — 32 stories high — with granite and other expensive flourishes everywhere you look.

It opened in 1999 at a cost of $800 million and post-Katrina renovation cost $550 million. It's the largest employer in Biloxi with more than 3,800 employees and the largest resort in the Southeast to nab the AAA Four Diamond award.

The Beau Rivage has more than 1,700 guest rooms and suites, with 32-inch flat-screen TVs. It also has a re-designed casino area, seven restaurants, four lounges and bars, 12 shops, spa and salon, a pool and convention center. Man, I'm telling you, it's big.

Biloxi-area restaurants

One treat Shell Landing has going for it is its Opus Restaurant, serving prime steaks and seafood. It also has a good wine selection.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Shell Landing

    lipout wrote on: Feb 25, 2012

    NOt worth the $100 green fee. Just taking advantage of the Casino golfers.
    Bunkers were horrible.
    Greens had grafted spots which required you to move your ball to have consistant line to the hole.
    Stuck behind a fivesome!
    Just not very buttontuck.
    $100.00 Huh?????? Make it off the gambler from Ohio...not me!