(VIENNA, VA) - Nine golf courses represented by Buffalo Communications - the global lifestyle division of Billy Casper Golf, owner/operator of more than 130 golf properties nationwide - are among the top-50 in "Golfweek's Best: Casino Courses 2011" ranking.
The nine courses, listed in Golfweek's December 9-16 issue, represent eight golf facilities in four states. Six of the layouts are located in Mississippi - Fallen Oak (ranked No. 2), Grand Bear (No. 26), Dancing Rabbit's Azaleas and Oaks courses (Nos. 28 and 48, respectively), The Preserve (No. 32) and Shell Landing (No. 44). Rounding out the remainder of Buffalo Communications' clients on the list are Washington's Salish Cliffs (No. 11), Idaho's Circling Raven (No. 14) and Michigan's Sweetgrass (No. 27).
"These well-known sites always deliver an exceptional golf and gaming experience," says Rich Katz, Managing Director of Buffalo Communications. "Located in pristine regions, they give visitors a wealth of activity options both on the course and on the casino floor. We were thrilled to see them recognized for their commitment to excellence."
Tom Fazio and Jerry Pate each had a hand in designing three of the courses - including Dancing Rabbit's two courses in a collaborative effort. Fazio also designed Fallen Oak while Pate crafted The Preserve. Gene Bates, who is also a client of Buffalo Communications, created Salish Cliffs and Circling Raven while Jack Nicklaus crafted Grand Bear, Paul Albanese designed Sweetgrass and Davis Love III laid out Shell Landing.
Here are brief descriptions of each course, by state:
• Circling Raven, Worley: Circling Raven, affiliated with the newly renovated Coeur d'Alene Casino Resort Hotel, meanders through 620 stunning acres adjoining the Coeur d'Alene National Forest. A regular on "best-of" lists, Circling Raven is also ranked 83rd among Golf Digest's "America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses 2011-12."
• Sweetgrass, Harris: The highly acclaimed Sweetgrass Golf Club, an amenity of the Island Resort & Casino, traverses rolling meadows and across wetlands in the Upper Peninsula. It hosts the LPGA Futures Tour's annual Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass in late June.
• Dancing Rabbit (Azaleas and Oaks), Philadelphia: Dancing Rabbit's award-winning Azaleas course has been called "The Augusta you can play" by GOLF Magazine. It and its superb sister course, The Oaks, are framed by the picturesque Choctaw landscape of ancient pines and hardwoods, and are affiliated with the Pearl River Resort.
• Fallen Oak, Saucier: This beauty hosts the Champions Tour's Gulf Resort Classic and, for the other 51 weeks each year, is open exclusively to Beau Rivage Hotel guests. Fallen Oak - which winds through, around and across century-old oak trees, streams, lakes and marshland - is ranked No. 41 among Golf Digest's "America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses."
• Grand Bear, Saucier: Affiliated with Grand Biloxi Casino Hotel & Spa, majestic Grand Bear takes golfers for a peaceful, yet challenging trip through exquisitely sculpted and protected wetlands in a pristine Mississippi forest.
• Shell Landing, Gautier: The waterfront Shell Landing is the IP Casino Resort & Spa's marquee amenity. The course's diverse topography includes marshes, bayous, tall pines, wetlands and rolling hills.
• The Preserve, Vancleave: The Preserve - which encompasses 245 pristine acres and is affiliated with the Palace Casino Resort - is surrounded by an additional 1,800 acres of dedicated nature preserve. The native pitcher plant bogs, cypress swamps, long-leaf pine savannah, live-oak groves and native grass prairies are integrated into the course design.
• Salish Cliffs, Shelton: All but two holes of this brand-new (it opened in September 2011) amenity of Little Creek Casino Resort are encircled by lush forestry. Salish Cliffs - which also boasts 360-degree views of Kamilche Valley - has already been honored nationally by Golf Digest, GOLF Magazine, Golfweek (twice) and Forbes.com.
To produce Golfweek's Best Courses lists, a nationwide team of course raters - which currently boasts more than 730 evaluators - surveyed more than 3,000 courses on the basis of 10 criteria, including routing, conditioning, variety and memorability of holes. The result is an average of scores that then dictates a course's overall ranking.