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Grand Casino Resort Tunica celebrates its 10th anniversary

22 February 2008

TUNICA, Mississippi – PRESS RELEASE -- Mississippi is increasingly becoming known as the nation's best golf-and-gaming destination.

It's the third-largest gaming destination in the U.S. after Vegas and Atlantic City and it has the best combination of golf courses and value to complement the dozens of casino resorts throughout the state.

How does the Magnolia State keep its edge and remain the leading golf-and-gaming destination in the United States, perhaps the world?

By refusing to rest on its laurels.

The latest demonstration of this statewide mission is found at the Grand Casino Resort Tunica in Northern Mississippi, about 30 minutes south of Memphis.

In this its 10 anniversary season, the casino resort has "quietly" undertaken several upgrades designed to add more challenge and optimized course conditions at Links at Cottonwoods, a Hale Irwin Signature Design which was voted a Top-40 Casino Course in the U.S. by Golf Digest Magazine.

Stan Genty, course architect with Hale Irwin Golf Design, was brought in to coordinate and develop a plan to return the course to its original design while improving the course conditions and golf experience. The course was designed as a true links layout with extremely minimal tree plantings. Before completion of the course project, the owner of the Grand Casino insisted on trees and consequently 2,500 trees were planted throughout the layout. Over the past 1.5 years Links at Cottonwoods has been selectively removing trees and planting additional native areas consistent with the original links design.

"Upon completion of the course renovations this spring, we will have removed 90% of the trees and added 60 acres of native grasses providing players with a true links golf experience," says Links at Cottonwoods Director of Golf Matt McNeil.

In addition to those changes, Director of Golf McNeil and Golf Course Superintendent James Harris will oversee the installation of Champion Bermuda turfgrass in June, replacing the Bentgrass which is currently in place. The grass conversion on the greens will add another level of complexity to the course while providing a playing surface consistent with links golf.

The ever-present and often stout wind which rolls over the vast flatlands of the unprotected Delta where Links at Cottonwoods is located coupled with the new design upgrades will mean pars are at a premium.

Measuring 7,000 yards from the back tees – but frequently playing longer thanks to the often balmy and blustery breezes – the par-72 course is defended additionally by multiple sand bunkers and water hazards. The water hazards come brilliantly into play on several holes, requiring players to think long and hard when deciding how much carry to borrow when gauging the prevalent, hardy crosswinds.

Another upgrade to Links at Cottonwoods occurs at the 15th hole, which was a sore spot given a water hazard which bisected the fairway at a distance which took driver out of many players' hands, then required a long, uphill second shot to the par-4 green. Now players will be able hit driver without worrying about finding the canal.

"The hole will be shortened to proper lengths so that all players will be able to carry the water with their tee shot," says McNeil. "In addition to the new tee boxes, several pot bunkers will be added to the hole to challenge players at the shorter yardage."

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