March 10, 2014
I had an extra day after my weekend business trip in Gulfport, MS, so decided to drive the 170 miles north to check off the #32 public course in the U.S., the Azalaea Course at Dancing Rabbit Golf Club. As I didn't want to drive the three and a half hours north, play golf, and turn around and drive three and a half hours back, I reserved a room at the Dancing Rabbit Inn. The inn shares the parking lot with the clubhouse so it is a one minute walk from the lobby of the hotel to the proshop.
I try not to be negative in these blog write-ups if at all possible. However, every facet of this trip was extremely disappointing. Upon arrival at the inn around 9 p.m., I was "greeted" by a very rude staff person at the front desk. After being advised the king room I had reserved two months prior was not available and I "would have to settle for a double room", she literally tossed the key across the counter at me, mumbled my room number (which I had to double check against the scribble inside the key holder), and she sneered at me when I requested a wake up call. SIRI on my iPhone was at least accommodating with my wake up call request, and she was much more friendly. After an evening workout, I watched the newest episode of The Walking Dead and then fell asleep. The next morning, the staff was much more friendly. However, the breakfast left a lot to be desired. I was shown a pan full of Jimmy Dean microwave sausage biscuits that were available. Had I known how disappointing the place was, I would have paid the extra $20-$30 to stay at the Gold Moon Resort Hotel. I highly recommend avoiding the Dancing Rabbit Inn if you find yourself in Phladelphia, MS. There are much more welcoming accommodations 5-10 minutes away from the golf course.
After my dry sausage biscuit, I made my way to the clubhouse. Back in January, I had emailed back and forth with the club pro. He assured me I would be afforded the club's pro rate as a courtesy, and would even be joined by a staff member who would like to play with me. Neither of those panned out. After paying the normal green fee (which I had no real problem with), headed out to the first tee of the Azalea course by myself. It appeared no one else was on the course and the fog was just clearing. At least it should be a great day of golf. It was a clear blue sky, with an early morning temperature of 63 and forecasted 70 by the end of the day.
|Welcome sign to the Azaleas course. The path to the left leads to the unrated Oaks course.|
|The tee box markers represent the namesake of the course.|
|The flags found on each of the holes at the Azaleas course.|
|Looking down the fairway from the First tee box.|
The first fairway is fairly straight, but almost all uphill. The better play is to drive down the left side. It takes the trees on the right out of play. It does lead to a much tougher shot over the large sand trap on the front left of the green.
|A look at the 1st green from 75 yards out.|
|A look at the first green from the top of the hill next to the cart path.|
|A look down the fairway from the second tee box.|
|A look at the second green from 100 yards out.|
|A look at the green from the top of the hill near the cart path.|
|The green side bunker at the second green|
|A look down the fairway from the third tee box.|
|A look back down the fairway towards the tee box from the #3 green.|
The approach shot to the green from the top of the hill makes for a decent chance at par or birdie. A shot from the lower fairway leads to having to carry a creek and then the large green side bunker.
|A look into the #3 green from the top fairway.|
The fourth hole is a relatively short par 3 that plays down hill. Again, the green is mostly flat, making for an decent chance at par.
|A look at the 4th green from the tee box.|
|A look down the fairway from the 5th tee box.|
|A look into the 5th green from 150 yards out.|
|A closer look at the green side bunkers at #5.|
|A look down to the green from the cart path.|
The 6th hole is a short par 4 that can be tricky. The fairway turns left and then uphill towards the green after 200 yards or so.
|A look down the fairway from the 6th tee box.|
|A look into the 6th green from 150 yards out.|
|A look at the 6th green from 75 yards out.|
|A look back down the fairway from behind the 6th green.|
The 7th hole is an average length par 3, playing 158 yards from the blue tee boxes. The creek shouldn't come into play, but the green does slope back towards the hill and green side bunkers. If the ball has a decent spin and starts rolling back, you could be looking at a difficult second shot.
|A look at the 7th green from the tee box.|
|A look down onto the 7th green from the cart path at the top of the hill.|
|A look down the fairway from the 8th tee box.|
|A look into the 8th tee box from 100 yards out.|
|A look back down the fairway from behind the 8th green.|
|A look down the fairway from the 9th tee box.|
|A look to the 9th green from 120 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from behind the 9th green.|
|A look down the fairway from the 10th tee box.|
|A look towards the 10th green from 75 yards out.|
|A look back down the 10th fairway from the left side of the green.|
|A look into the green from the left side fairway bunkers.|
The 11th hole is a fairly short par 4 at 347 yards. You can make up a shot with a straight drive and approach shot. Care should be taken to avoid the right side bunkers next to the green.
|A look down the fairway from the 11th tee box.|
|A look into the 11th green from 100 yards out.|
|A look at the green from the right side next to the cart path.|
|A look down the fairway from the 12th tee box.|
|A look into the 12th green from 150 yards out.|
|A look into the 13th green from the tee box.|
|A look at the 13th green from the back right side.|
|A look down the fairway from the 14th tee box.|
|A look back down the 14th fairway from behind the green.|
|A look down the fairway from the 15th tee box.|
|A look at the 15th green from 100 yards out.|
|A look into the 16th green from the tee box.|
|A look down the fairway from the 17th tee box.|
|A look towards the green from 180-200 yards out.|
|A look into the 17th green from 60 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 18th tee box.|
|A look into the 18th green from 175 yards out.|
Overall, the Azaleas Course at Dancing Rabbit was a fairly fun course to play. However, due to the conditions of some of the tee boxes, the rough patches around most greens and fringes, and the lack of overseeding, the course is rated too highly on the top 100 public courses in my opinion. For a course rated six spots behind Fallen Oaks GC, a course that hosts a Champions Tour event and also located in Mississippi, I expected much more from Dancing Rabbit. Longaberger GC in Ohio, rated at #55 on the same list, was a much nicer, and better maintained course than Dancing Rabbit.
My advice is, if you find yourself in or around Philadelphia, MS, and have time for a round, then schedule a tee time. However, I would not recommend going out of your way, driving more than 100 miles to play this course as you may for some of the other courses on the list.