Binge On Gulf Shores Golf

RTJ’s eleven trailheads have long acted as tractor beams drawing road-tripping golfers to inland Alabama. But for buddy groups content with committing to a single idyllic locale to stay and play and splash, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach beckons. The Sweet Home State’s Southeastern shores offer a tantalizing coastal course menu paired with sugar white sand beaches and diverse 19thhole options that’ll have your foursome planning on coming back for more.

Let’s Kickstart this Course Crawl
The mascot of Gulf Shores Golf Club, the oldest vintage course in these parts is a cuddly fox squirrel. If you happen to leave snacks laying out in plain view in your cart you may be treated a real deal encounter with these bushy tailed scamps. If you’re keen on feeding the cute ‘lil buggers, they have a penchant for pilfering roasted peanuts. Clocking in at 6,812-yards from the tips, this tree lined Jay and Carter Morrish design packs plenty of old school charm and will give most seasoned golfers scorecards a case of the warm and fuzzies—an early blast of golf nirvana greeted me on No. 4, the course’s first par three. My majestic parabolic tee shot nearly jarred the hole, plopping down just a smidgeon over a foot right of the flagstick and setting up a near gimme-birdie. Overall, what you see is what you get with nary a blind shot or optical deception to contend with.  Keep the ball on the fairway and a relaxing round is in store. You will need your full wits about you on No, 7 a 595-yard par 5 doozie with plenty of beach in play, a real fairway bunker-palooza.

Keep the fairways and greens party going at the impeccably conditioned Craft Farms, where there are 36 holes of Arnold Palmer’s primo handiwork on display. I didn’t get a chance to play Cotton Creek, the more difficult of the two tracks here but rode my cart over to take a gander at her narrower more foreboding fairways and less spacious greens. Craft Farms’ Cypress Bend track, a gentle beauty with generous landing areas is more my speed. Lakes loom on practically every hole, but the drink is there mainly for aesthetics rather than to present intimidating forced carry situations (the par 3 No. 6 is an exception) and I only sent a couple golf balls to watery graves. Local Knowledge: If you’re looking for a little healthy pick-me-up pre-round, there’s a barrel of fresh apples by the first tee to crunch on, and you know what starters like to say, “an apple before play, keeps the first tee jitters at bay.”

Next on the docket head west to Kiva Dunes perched upon the Fort Morgan Peninsula. This top shelf eighteen is a regular podium placer on “best public courses in Alabama” lists. While bereft of sea views, there are plenty of postcard worthy scenes along this Gulf adjacent Jerry Pate design which wends through windswept, scrub oak strewn terrain and on No. 14 you can hear the waves crashing against the surf.

The finishing hole was a standout with O.B. on the left and a lake on the right. The green complex is protected by a troop of sandy sentinels standing guard up front with the drink is close enough on the right to ratchet up the fear factor. Land one close to the pin and you’ll illicit some hoots and hollers from the assembled peanut gallery.  In prime season plenty of folks hang out hole-side on their balconies to watch the golf theater on the eighteenth unfold.

19thHole Shenanigans
Recap your round while munching on woodfired oysters at Villaggio Grille and scoping out the scene at the bustling Wharf on Orange Beach. For a rowdier night out knock back cold onesat the legendary Flora-Bama Lounge. The legendary roadhouse packs in a diverse crowd ranging from peacocking sorority girls in daisy dukes sipping on bushwackers (a milkshake infused with five types of alcohol) to gaggles of greying pensioners here to sing-along to the classic rock cover bands.  Kenney Chesney and Jimmy Buffet have both immortalized the generation and border-straddling bar in song.

The centrally located Hilton Garden Inn on Orange Beach puts your foursome a short drive to each golf club on the course crawl. If you’d rather base camp in a beach house or course-side condo, options abound at Kiva Dunes to make it happen.

Tags: Alabama, golf

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