Millions of taxpayer dollars fueling expansion efforts, new golf course at LeFleur’s Bluff

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – While organizers and tourism officials believe a major expansion of LeFleur’s Bluff – fueled by $13.2 million from lawmakers – will only expand their outreach and education efforts for children of Mississippi, elected state and federal leaders want the public to know they are fans of the sport, too.

State Sen. John Horhn said the money for the course, which lawmakers approved last week, came from capital expenditure funds.

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith told dozens at Tuesday’s groundbreaking that the new golf park, which will feature the state’s only Robert Trent Jones golf course, gives her brownie points with his colleagues in Washington.

“It gives me bragging rights in the US Senate locker room because, you know, we have a lot of golfers there,” Hyde-Smith told the crowd. “That gives me a lot of bragging rights there.”

Speaker of the House Philip Gunn also praised the nine-hole course, referring to the sport and ability of his Senate counterpart on the green.

“I am an avid golfer, and I can tell you that the Lieutenant Governor is an avid golfer as well. He’s a really good golfer,” Gunn said through sunglasses on a blustery morning outside the Mississippi Children’s Museum. “Don’t let him fool you. I noticed this subtle suggestion that [Delbert Hosemann] makes you the first to hit the first tee shot. I hope I can stay there with you.

Plans released by the Mississippi Children’s Museum show several new additions to LeFleur’s Bluff, including areas for disc golf, 3D archery, pickleball, and even botanical gardens.

It would be the second phase of a master plan that took five years to draft, officials said.

In December 2021, the first phase involved the opening of a large playground that sixty thousand people have already visited, according to a statement from the children’s museum.

Robert Trent Jones II told reporters that he envisions the entire facility as something the community will embrace because of the activities available there.

“It’s not just about golf, but we want the First Tee, we want to put a club in the hands of a young boy and a young girl and get them swinging. Once they hit a golf ball, it continues for life. They will come back,” Jones said. “Our family has built golf courses in all but two states. Mississippi is one. South Dakota, I may never make it there. But we’re going to finish the Mississippi.

Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann said expansion efforts will also connect several parts of the capital.

“We connect downtown, Fondren, this baseball field area, the children’s museum, all the things that we offer here as a cultural attachment,” Hosemann said. “Taxpayer funds have been poured in so that we have this kind of first-class, world-class resort here.”

Some of that connectivity will come from a pedestrian bridge that will be built over Lakeland Drive, connecting the Agriculture Museum to the Children’s Museum, made possible by $1 million in transportation funding, which Hyde-Smith said he helped secure.

The overall goal, according to event organizers, is to inspire future Mississippi leaders to explore and imagine what they can be.

“Not only are our children learning a new sport and a new skill, but they’re also gaining tools that will help them be more confident and succeed in school and ultimately in life,” said Monique Ealey, director of the educational team of the Children’s Museum. . “When most people think of the image of golf, the image of downtown or underserved kids on a course doesn’t really come to mind. But on Friday afternoons, if you visit the Mississippi Children’s Museum between 3:30 and 5:00 p.m., that’s exactly what you’ll see. “

Hosemann said lawmakers allocated nearly $38 million to repair parks across the state.

“You’ll see a huge investment in our parks and public spaces in Mississippi, and that’s something we promised when people hired me to do this work. And now you’re seeing the fruits of that,” a said Hosemann. “You get a golf club in [a young person’s] hand, they hit that little white ball the first time, and they’re part of it. They are outside. They exercise. They play with people, they do community things. It’s perfect. This is where we need to be.

Otter Creek Golf Park is scheduled to open in the fall of 2023.

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