Snowbirds Find Warm Welcome
The mild winters of the Mississippi Gulf Coast entice flocks of residents from colder climes, ready to bask in the balmy weather.
- story by Lisa Monti
Billy Baumgartner, the golf course manager, said the snowbirds who golf at the Bridges start arriving on the Coast in February and some stick around until May. This season looks to be on track with past years. “We’ve already started booking,” he said. “They’re coming.”
They soon will be joining local golfers on the award-winning course designed by golf legend Arnold Palmer.
“We still have locals who play but this time of year is our busy season when we get the bulk of our play,” he said. Upwards of 30 percent of the annual rounds are played during snowbird season. “Maybe a little bit more,” he said.
Many of the snowbirds faithfully make the annual trek because they know they can count on the weather and other coastal amenities like fresh seafood. Golfing is a huge draw for them and the Bridges is a favorite for many. “We’ve got them coming from Chicago, St. Louis, some from Canada, and all around the Midwest,” he said.
Not surprisingly, our warm climate is a big attraction for the visitors from up north. “They’re just escaping the cold. We average about 59 or 60 degrees this time of year. It’s a good change for them,” he said.
At Buccaneer State Park in Waveland, visitors this time of year come from all over, including some from up north, according to a park staffer. “They’re from everywhere,” she said. “Most are snowbirds. We have some now from Canada and Indiana.”
And it’s not unusual for campers to start arriving in December and stay for up to three months. “We have a good bit of people staying over a month,” she said.
The park earns high marks from those who visit and the feedback is positive. Considering its many amenities and beachfront location, snowbirds return year after year.
Water is also among the selling points for the Bridges. Baumgartner said his pitch to potential players are “scenic views of the Bay, no homes on the course and target-oriented golf.” Even with recent heavy rain and freezing temperatures here, he said, “The course is in great shape right now.”