Save the Great Southern Golf Club in Gulfport

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

Save the Great Southern Golf Club in Gulfport.

Paul Hampton of the Sun Herald reported Tuesday that “the Great Southern Golf Club, the oldest course in Mississippi, could become a housing development if the club that owns the course sells it. But the president of the club and the course superintendent said they want it to remain a golf club.

“They believe most of the stockholders agree.”

You can go right here to read the rest of the story.

I have sentimental reasons for the Great Southern, a scenic spot that offers beach views, to remain a golf course instead of becoming a housing development.
My parents bought a house at 221 Venetian Gardens in 1964, and the house, which survived Hurricane Camille in 1969 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, is right next to the course. The back yard is the seventh hole, a par 3.
When we were junior high and high school students, my brother Mike and I would sneak on the course before twilight to play three holes before the club pro, Charlie Webb, would try to chase us down in his European sports car.
Ol’ Charlie never caught us. We would hide on the back porch as he looked for us.
Other times, Mike and I would play football on Saturday afternoons with our friends on the fairway of the second hole and we would get irritated when golfers delayed our game as they hit chip shots to the green.
I’ve got other memories. The Mary Mills Classic was an LPGA Tour stop named for the Gulfport golf star, and we would watch some of the best players in the world try to birdie the seventh hole.
My most memorable moment living next to the course was the summer afternoon I heard a booming voice as I was watching a major-league baseball telecast in the living room.
I recognized the voice. It was distinctive.
I ran outside, and the man with the booming voice was in a foursome that included Gulfport attorney Boyce Holleman. Holleman’s group was putting on the seventh green and his partner was Dizzy Dean. Yes, that Dizzy Dean.
As he was walking off the green, I got Dizzy’s autograph and to this day I’m amazed I got to meet him in our back yard.
We lived near College Park, a neighborhood known for streets named after famous golfers because the area is close to the course. Palmer Drive. Demaret Drive. Middlecoff Drive. Ford Street. Sarazen Drive. Snead Street.
I stopped living at home in 1976, and years later, a fence was built to keep young rubes from sneaking on the course.
I take pride in believing that the fence was probably built because of what we did as teens.

 The Sun Herald reported that “the almost 130-acre site and clubhouse is listed by broker Lenny Sawyer for $9,750,000. The sale brochure pitches it as prime beachfront land for residential redevelopment with the highest beachfront elevations on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”

A potential buyer is interested is making the course a residential area and the club’s stockholders are considering the buyer’s offer.

The stockholders will likely have a vote in January on the offer.

Please, save the course.

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