The Great Southern Golf Club is one of the Mississippi Gulf Coast's oldest and most prestigious golf courses. Founded in 1908 at 2000 Beach Drive in Gulfport, the challenging layout included several holes with dramatic views of the beach, and it had a beautiful Colonial-style clubhouse.|
The wind and water from Hurricane Katrina ravaged the facility with destructive power like no one had ever seen. No one knows the history of the Great Southern Golf Club's past survival better than maintenance supervisor Boston Grace, who started working there as a caddie in October 1962. Grace said when he first saw the devastation caused by Katrina, "It was pretty rough. It was not a golf course anymore."
The solidly built clubhouse structure was cut in half by 30 feet of water causing it to completely collapse on itself. The course's waterfront signature holes, the fourth and 18th, had their greens uprooted and completely washed out by the surge. Many of the course's trees that lined the fairways were blown down by the winds from Katrina and numerous others have died since from disease or saltwater inundation.
"We've cut down 1,000 trees, and we have 1,000 more to go," Grace said.
After months of hard work and rebuilding, Grace and the staff at Great Southern were able to reopen the historic course in March. Working out of temporary facilities and with a few temporary greens, the course continues to improve more and more each day.
"The greens are in good shape," Grace said. "Not quite as good as before Katrina, but we will get them there."
The lack of trees also gives golfers more options on some of the course's more challenging holes. With reduced green fees ($25), the Great Southern Golf Club is once again providing the Golf-crazed residents of the Coast with a great place to play.
- JOHN PARTAIN