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The Top-10 U.S. golf and gaming resorts (not in Las Vegas)

30 July 2012

There is no doubt about it: golfing and gambling go together.

Think about it: a round of 18 holes on a top-rated course, playing a hand of blackjack in a luxurious casino and then finishing the day by eating at an award-winning restaurant. Does it get any better?

Las Vegas is considered the Mecca of all things gambling in the U.S., but with dry desert heats (especially this time of year) and pricey golf courses, it can be somewhat of a struggle on the body and the wallet to play multiple rounds of golf.

Therefore, this list is comprised of golf-and-gaming resorts in other regions of the U.S. And since Mississippi is the third-largest gaming destination in North America a majority of the resorts on this list hale from the Magnolia State. .

So grab some friends, load up the golf clubs, refresh your bankroll and book your stay at one (or several) of these golf and gaming resorts.

10. Harrah’s Grand Tunica/The Links at Cottonwoods – Mississippi

With holes inspired by British Open courses and a Scottish Links atmosphere, golfers will think they left the banks of the Mississippi for the U.K. Just outside of Memphis, this Hale Irwin-designed course has wide fairways, three lakes and more than 80 bunkers. The dramatic design of the course provides a challenging and exciting experience for both the seasoned player and the novice.

Off the course, your group can enjoy Harrah’s Tunica, the largest casino resort between Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Rest after your round in one of three luxurious towers at the resort or take a dive in your choice of four swimming pools. With countless dining options, 140,000 square feet of casino floor and a state-of-the-art entertainment center there is never a dull moment at this resort. Test your shooter’s touch at the Willows Sporting Clays and Hunting Center where realistic hunting environments are simulated on 14 different trap and skeet shooting stations or spend the day getting pampered at the resort’s spa.

9. Mount Airy Casino Resort/Mount Airy Golf Club – Pennsylvania

The charming Pocono Mountains region is well-known for its long list of year-round outdoor activities, and golf is chief among them.

Winner of the AAA Four Diamond award- the first of its kind in Pennsylvania to do so- Mount Airy Casino Resort is one of the finest gaming venues in the state. Sitting in the heart of the Poconos surrounded by scenic lakes and streams, the resort is just an hour from New York City.

The Mount Airy Golf Club is a Hal C. Purdy design that provides a challenge for all skill levels along with some exceptional scenery of rolling hills, tree-lined fairways, ponds, lakes and streams.

8. Hollywood Casino/The Bridges Golf Club – Mississippi

Just minutes from the Gulf Coast and less than an hour drive from New Orleans, sits the Hollywood Casino and the Arnold Palmer designed Bridges Golf Club. Hollywood Casino offers table games, a poker room, and more than 1,200 slots. The Hollywood Poker Room has free poker lessons and players receive special guest room rates in the hotel.

Mississippi’s only Arnold Palmer signature golf course is the Bridges Golf Club at Hollywood Casino. The course is ranked among the Top 40 casino courses in the country and features an award-winning golf shop where you can find all of your game essentials. Fittingly, the course features nearly 21 bridges set along the banks of the Mississippi’s Bay of St. Louis. The Bridges is the first resort golf course in the world to obtain Audubon International’s Certified Silver Signature status, demonstrating Palmer’s design strength of working in harmony with nature.

7. Grand Biloxi Casino, Hotel & Spa/Grand Bear Golf Course – Mississippi

Grand Bear is a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course with over 7,200 yards that winds through cypress wetlands and the tall pines of the DeSoto National Forest. The course is challenging for any skill level but enjoyable for all. Grand Bear has received many accolades, including Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest Public-Access courses and Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play. After playing a round, golfers can enjoy the 5,000 square foot, log-style clubhouse with pro shop and restaurant. The Grand Biloxi and Grand Bear are offering stay and play packages that include one night stay, one round of golf and a $25 food credit starting at $110 per person. Group golf packages are also available.

Situated along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Grand Biloxi Casino offers 24-hour gaming, award-winning dining and the renowned Bellissimo Spa & Salon. The all-new casino floor has 800 slots and 35 table games. Relax after your golf round in a cabana by the pool with TVs, a Tiki bar, and live entertainment.

6. Island Resort & Casino/Sweetgrass Golf Club – Michigan

Owned and operated by the Hannahville Band of the Potawatomi Nation, the Island Resort & Casino offers more than 400,000 square feet of casino space in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, two hours north of Green Bay. The resort has live poker five days a week and was voted as Michigan’s Best Poker Tournaments in the Midwest Gaming & Travel Readers’ Choice Awards. On the 3rd Tuesday of each month, enjoy the Party Pit with music, prizes, drawings, and free bets.

Adjacent to the resort is Sweetgrass Golf Club. Designed by Michigan-native Paul Albanese, this 7,275-yard, par-72 layout has earned many top honors in Golf Digest, Golfweek and Golf Magazine. The resort annually hosts The Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass, an LPGA Symetra Tour event.

The popular Perfect Foursome package combines golf at Sweetgrass with two ranked regional layouts, Greywalls and TimberStone, and overnight accommodations at the Island Resort and Casino. Rates start at $265 for three rounds and a two-night stay.

5. Pearl River Resort/Dancing Rabbit Golf Club – Mississippi

The Azaleas and Oaks courses at Dancing Rabbit Golf Club (Tom Fazio, Jerry Pate design collaboration), which is owned and operated by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, roll out over 14,000 yards on this immaculate 700 acres of land.

A short ride from the golf club is Pearl River Resort which encompasses the full gambling experience with more than 5,000 slot machines, 115 table games, a poker room, 11 restaurants, and 1,000 well-appointed guest rooms. The resort experience also features the Geyser Falls Water Theme Park, the Spa at Silver Star and the Beach Club at Clearwater Key, a 360-degree tropical adventure complete with a Tiki Bar and heated pool.

Make your stay even more memorable by booking one of eight elegant suites on the top floor of the majestic Dancing Rabbit Clubhouse and take advantage of having your own personal golf cart – with head lights – to transport back and forth to the casino.

4. Palace Casino Resort/The Preserve Golf Club – Mississippi

After a large-scale expansion and renovation, the Palace Casino Resort re-opened in June 2011 revealing an all-new casino, lounge and restaurants. Tucked between the Gulf of Mexico and Biloxi’s Back Bay, the resort offers stunning views of the surrounding area. The newly expanded casino offers a gaming floor featuring 1,100 slot machines, 26 table games and a high limit room.

After checking into the redesigned Palace Casino, head over to the Preserve Golf Club, designed by U.S. Open champion and award-winning designer Jerry Pate. The 245-acre course is surrounded by 1,800 acres of dedicated nature preserve with bogs, swamps, oak groves and grass prairies. Overlooking the lake and 18th hole is the 8,500 square foot clubhouse with a large covered patio, multiple high definition flat screen TVs and a restaurant.

The Palace Casino Resort and The Preserve Golf Club offer many different stay and play golf packages. From June-February choose between four all-inclusive Palace & Preserve Golf Packages like the Eagle Package, which includes unlimited golf, one night hotel stay, one free meal and a $20 slot credit for $190 per person.

3. Beau Rivage Resort & Casino/Fallen Oak Golf Course – Mississippi

As the tallest and largest building in Mississippi, the Steve Wynn-designed Beau Rivage Resort & Casino reaches 32 stories and 3.2 million square feet with the most table games, guest rooms and meeting space on the Gulf Coast. Visitors will enjoy a large casino with slot machines, video poker, high-limit lounges and table games.

Guests of the MGM Resorts International-owned and operated venue can enjoy fine or casual dining, bars and lounges, a salon, arcade and shopping area. No need to travel for entertainment as the resort presents headlining acts including B.B. King on Aug. 24 and Jay Leno on Oct. 6.

As a guest of the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, you can enjoy the exclusive Tom Fazio designed Fallen Oak. With your provided caddy, you will navigate through manicured greens, streams, lakes and marshland. Golfweek recently named Fallen Oak the No. 2 Casino Course in the country, behind its sister course, Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. It’s no wonder rave reviews regularly come from players, caddies and media who have attended the PGA Champions Tour’s Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic here the past three years.

2. Little Creek Casino Resort/Salish Cliffs Golf Club – Washington

Come enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest at the Squaxin Island Tribe owned Little Creek Casino Resort and Salish Cliffs Golf Club. Opening in Sept. 2011, Salish Cliffs Golf Club is an award-winning course designed by Gene Bates. With more than 600 feet of elevation change and stunning 360-degree views of Kamilche Valley, it is no surprise that this course was named on Golfweek’s Best Casino Courses 2011 and recently ranked No. 4 on their 2012 Best Courses: State by State list. Forbes.com also named Salish Cliffs one of the best golf values in the U.S.

The course is an amenity of Little Creek Casino Resort, which offers eight dining options as well as the brand new Skookum Spirit Cigar Lounge, which opened in March, and Seven Inlets Spa, which had its grand opening at the beginning of July.

1. Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel/Circling Raven Golf Club – Idaho

Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel completed its seventh and most lavish major expansion in May 2011 since opening as a modest bingo hall in 1993. Located in the beautiful Idaho Panhandle, the casino has the area’s most gaming machines more than 1,100 jackpot winners each month.

The expansion – which is completely smoke-free – included a new fitness center, a 15,000 square-foot spa called Ssakwa’q’n (pronounced “SOCK-wah-kin”), which describes a small, refreshing lake on a mountain top and a new gourmet steak house called Ts'elusm (pronounced “T-sell-OOS-m”), which means “stand before the fire.” The two new hotel towers overlook Circling Raven Golf Club for a spectacular view.

Speaking of Circling Raven, the Gene Bates masterpiece meanders through 620 breathtaking acres. It is a must-play as it is consistently rated one of the top courses in the country. If you like your golf served with a heavy dose of beauty, brawn and seclusion, Circling Raven is for you. More good news: a stay-and-play package can be had for as little as $199 and includes a round of golf and a night in one of the newly appointed guest rooms.

List courtesy of Buffalo Communications

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