Friday, December 31, 2010

Championship Tees

The year is coming to an end and yet another is beginning. This always gets me thinking about starting fresh, changing for the better, goals and accomplishments, etc. This can (and does) apply to many aspects of my day-to-day life, but being golf-obsessed as I am, I’m once again putting much emphasis on golf goals for the New Year.

I was looking at the course lengths of some of my favorite golf courses in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Kiva Dunes appears to be the longest, with 7,092 yards from the gold tees. Timber Creek, Peninsula Golf & Racquet, and Cotton Creek at Craft Farms are also over 7,000 yards from the championship tees.

I know I’ve never played this distance before. I did manage to work my way to the blue tees a couple times this year—the next step up would be the championship/gold/black tees (depending on where you play). So that’s my goal for 2011: play a 7,000-plus-yard course from the big tee boxes. (And maybe next year I’ll add “with a good score” to that goal.)

Here’s to golf in 2011!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Several Reasons to Visit

This time of year, many places are simply too cold for golf. For the avid golfer, the return of tolerable temperatures can seem like an eternity. This is just one of many reasons to visit Alabama’s Gulf Coast for a fall/winter golf getaway.

Though obviously cooler than spring and summer, the weather is still mild and very tolerable for golf. The Gulf Shores and Orange Beach area is a perfect location for golfers looking for a reprieve from the season’s chilly temperatures. Not only will they be greeted with comfortable temperatures, they’ll also have their choice of nine signature golf courses.

And with the arrival of the holiday season, a trip to the Gulf could make a nice gift for a spouse or other loved one. A wide array of accommodations—from hotels to luxurious condominiums—plus excellent dining and other activities make it an ideal vacation spot, golf or no golf. Visit the Gulf Shores Golf Association for more information on area golf and other information.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Take the Day Off and Play Golf

You could treat November 15th just like any other Monday—wake up early, rush around getting ready and make your way in to work. Or you could take a vacation day and participate in the Fall Celebrity Songwriters Golf Tournament at the Lost Key Golf Club in Perdido Key, Florida.

Be there for 11 a.m. and enjoy a gourmet lunch, then head over to the tees at noon to start the four-man scramble. Taking a vacation day for this tournament may well be worth it if you hit a hole in one, as you might win a 2011 Jetta (donated by Pete Moore) or $5,000 cash (sponsored by Vann Milheim of Edward Jones)—not to mention the bragging rights that go along with actually hitting a hole in one!

The cost is $75 per person or $300 per four-person group, which covers lunch, cart, range balls, free drink holes, and prizes. Visit the Gulf Shores Golf Association website (in the news & events section under “Explore”) for more information.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Choosing a Golf Course

When you visit an area like the Alabama Gulf Coast that has several options for great golf, deciding where to play can take some thought. Of course, this is a good challenge to face—I’ve been places where the options were few and not nearly as appealing.

The different golf courses have various characteristics that may help break down your decision. For instance, if design is important to you, you might like the fact that Cotton Creek and Cypress Bend at Craft Farms as well as the Lost Key course are Arnold Palmer designs, and other courses were designed by greats such as Bruce Devlin, Jerry Pate, Earl Stone and Robert Von Hagge.

Many of the courses have unique characteristics that make them appealing, such as the scenic marshland hazards at Rock Creek, chilled apples at the first tee of all 3 nines at Peninsula, and the mango-scented ice-cold towels at Cotton Creek.

Or perhaps ratings play an important part in the decision. Golf Digest has ranked Kiva Dunes as one of “America’s Top 100 Public Courses” and rated Cypress Bend as 4.5 stars.

Book a golf vacation package and play as many of the courses as you want. Check out the Gulf Shores Golf Association website for more information.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tournament Time

Oh, how I love a good golf tournament. Lucky for me, there a couple good ones right around the corner.

First up is the Mark Gottfried Celebrity Golf Tournament at the Peninsula Golf & Racquet Club. Basically, it’s golf with celebrities—more than 20 sports celebrities (former and current college coaches and players, former NBA and NFL stars, and several TV personalities) will be pairing up with four-player teams, with one celebrity per team. A pairings party the night before will include live music, hors d’oeuvres and, of course, the celebrities.

After that is the 17th Annual Shrimp Festival Golf Tournament on September 10th at Kiva Dunes. The per-person fee is $125 and covers green fee and cart, lunch, two mulligans, one red tee-buster, a gift bag and raffle prizes. Think of it as a prelude to the Annual National Shrimp Festival, which takes place in October. The proceeds of the golf tournament go to the Alabama Gulf Coast Educational Foundation—so it’s good fun and a good cause.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Golf Giveaway

I have a decent set of golf clubs at the moment. They’ve worked pretty well for me over the years, and they don’t cause me any problems (I’m pretty sure my recent habit of shanking drives is due to odd positioning and not my driver). All in all, I have no complaints—no reason to spend money on a new set.

But if a new set was offered to me for free, then that’s a completely different story. Wishful thinking? Possibly not, if you enter the Gulf Shores Golf Association’s Play to Win giveaway. Part of this sweepstakes prize package is a custom-fit full set of Callaway golf clubs, not to mention transportation to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach for the club fitting and a free one-night stay at one of GSGA’s partner accommodations. All you have to do to enter is, sometime between now and September 15th, book reservations for a golf vacation. (You only have to book it by September 15th; the actual vacation can take place anytime during the remainder of 2010.)

I can’t think of a better reason for a golf vacation at Alabama’s Gulf Coast—other than the excellent golf courses and beautiful beaches. Go to to request a quote, and get started planning that vacation.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Where to Stay?

Deciding which golf courses to play when visiting the Alabama Gulf Coast is only half the fun. Figuring out where to stay adds a whole new level to the planning process.

Whether you want a luxury condo, a private beachside house, or a simple hotel room, there are plenty of great lodging options in the area. Maybe it’s a buddies trip or a family vacation, and a beach house would be most accommodating. Or maybe it’s a getaway with a significant other, and a romantic beach-front condo is your preferred option.

You may also want to consider which courses you plan to play while in the area, and where they are in relation to where you’re staying. A customized golf package can help simplify your plans. Click here for information on getting a customized quote.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Golf Instruction Programs

My golf game has come a long way since I first started playing as a kid years ago. Now I’m actually halfway decent—some days, I’m even pretty good. And I’m always in favor of tips, advice, and even a lesson or two to improve.

So I was pretty happy to hear that Rock Creek Golf Club in Fairhope and Craft Farms in Gulf Shores are now offering instruction programs. The clubs are offering a variety of programs, including adult developmental clinics, ladies’ clinics, and junior programs. Tips to make golf more enjoyable and instruction on swing mechanics, specialty shots, and course management are some of the topics that are covered.

It’s a fun addition to a golf vacation and a great way to improve your golf game. I’m hoping to finally straighten out my slice and clean up my short game.

For more information, visit the Gulf Shores Golf Association website.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Playing for a Cause

The 11th Annual Benefit Golf Outing for Habitat for Humanity is coming up on May 7th. I love tournaments like these. Any tournament drives up the golf competition and makes the game that much more exciting. A tournament for a good cause adds a positive, feel-good note. Plus I don’t feel so bad when I botch my game, because I know it was for someone else anyway.

The tournament will be held at Cotton Creek at Craft Farms, and will use a four-person scramble format. Prizes will be given for low gross, low net, closest to the pin, and the winner of a putting contest. And of course, there will be food.

Visit the Golf Gulf Shores website for more information.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Did You Say Free?

What could be better than playing golf in Gulf Shores? Playing golf for free in Gulf Shores during a free beach vacation. I could certainly stand to save a chunk of money while still enjoying a much-needed vacation. Thanks to the Grand Gulf Getaway contest, I just might get that chance.

Included with the seven-night beachside vacation prize are two rounds of golf for two people—courtesy of the Gulf Shores Golf Association, so you know the golf is going to be someplace really nice. That right there is reason enough to register, never mind the various other prizes included in the package.

I have never won a contest in my life, but I have a good feeling about this one. The Gulf Coast is calling my name. If you hear it too, fill out the registration form at

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Gulf Shores Golf Association Showcases Bratton Brothers Invitational

What began in 1970 as a weekend trip from Birmingham to Gulf Shores by a small group of guys is still going strong 41 years later.

The Bratton Brothers Invitational Golf Tournament rolled to the Alabama Gulf Coast March 3rd through 6th and the original group of seven had grown to an impressive troop of more than 80 golfers. During their time in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, the golfers swung into action at the Orange Beach Golf Center, Peninsula, and the Golf Club of The Wharf. And the Gulf Shores Golf Association tagged along to capture the fun and camaraderie.

This group is used to coverage of their golf event. Last year their tournament was "ambushed" by Golf Digest magazine. This year, the Gulf Shores Golf Association went social covering their golf and fun time with photos, videos and posts on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and on the organization's blog.

"We wanted to utilize our social channels to welcome the Bratton Brothers Invitational," said Duncan Millar, executive director of the Gulf Shores Golf Association. "This allowed us to showcase how much fun it is to bring a golf group to the Alabama Gulf Coast. And it also gave us a way to thank these great guys for their long-term support of our area."

The group began their schedule with an afternoon tee off at the Orange Beach Golf Center on March 3rd. And they never slowed down. On Thursday they started the day with tee off at Peninsula and wrapped up with dinner at the Tin Top Restaurant.

On Friday they swung back into action at The Golf Club of The Wharf and wound down with a pizza party at Phoenix 10. The group returned to Peninsula on Saturday morning for a final round of golf.

In addition to the golf and food, the group shared the joy of time together. They laughed and joked and simply enjoyed each other's company. “It’s about way more than golf,” said Jimmy Lee of Andalusia, Alabama, "This is about fellowship and long-term friendships that have endured over time.”

To view the social coverage of the Bratton Brothers Invitational, visit these sites: Facebook - Flickr - Twitter -

And learn more about this great annual event at the Bratton Brothers Invitational website -

Friday, March 5, 2010

It’s About More than Golf

“We love Gulf Shores,” says Bill Gaut from Springfield, MO. “Good food, good golf courses, and it’s easy to find everything.”

Friends Mike and Charlie seconded Bill’s thoughts as we sat at the Tin Top restaurant snacking on fried pickles, baked oysters and grilled tuna. Members of the 41st Annual Bratton Brothers Invitational golf tournament, these gentlemen hailed from Oklahoma, Missouri and Alabama. Just a few of the 80+ members of this group, their sentiments were repeated throughout the night by others in attendance, who traveled from all over the country to play golf for four days straight, dine in local establishments and enjoy the gulf views from their condominiums in Orange Beach.

Joe Bratton and his younger brother Bobby brought a group of seven golfers (the eighth cancelled at the last minute) to Gulf Shores in 1970. Forty-one years later, the group has grown exponentially as each golfer began bringing one friend beginning in the second year. The group has ebbed and flowed in size, at one point swelling to almost 150 golfing friends. Now more limited so that the group can all play at one course together simultaneously, this annual gathering is about more than a few rounds of golf.

“It’s about way more than golf,” says Jimmy Lee of Andalusia. It took me years to get invited, and it was something I waited and waited for. Now I would not miss it. This is about fellowship and long-term friendships that have endured over time.”

As soon as I first met the group, that sentiment came through quite clearly. These guys like each other. They wait all year to take this trip, and they make the most of the time they spend together. While many of them see each other on a regular basis—playing golf, attending church—some of these friendships allow for “face time” only once a year. So they make the most of it. Laughter, shouts, and back-slapping are prevalent and ongoing. This group is no stranger to a good time, and they clearly enjoy each other’s company.

At dinner last night, there was some reminiscing, some story-telling, some commiserating over the day’s round, and a lot of appreciative comments about the delicious food being served up. The Midwestern contingent was enjoying the seafood they can’t get at home. Everyone was in good spirits and looking forward to more great golf. Their next round is at The Golf Club of the Wharf, with their final round at Peninsula Golf & Racquet Club on Saturday. Sunday is a day of recreation or travel, and then the group will begin looking forward to next year’s trip.

Photos below: Greg Waldrop, from Birmingham, AL, greets the BBI golfers with a big smile at the Tin Top Restaurant. Greg plays a key role in promoting the group on their annual excursions and was a tremendous help as the area prepared for the group’s arrival.

Good food is definitely a priority for this group. Members commented consistently that one of the reasons they love Gulf Shores is the great food and the variety. Several noted how many great restaurants have opened up over the years they’ve been visiting here. Favorites include The Tin Top and Nolan’s.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Gulf Shores Golf Association Releases 2010 Golf Vacation Planner

The opening comments of the 2010 Golf Vacation Planner from the Gulf Shores Golf Association capture the mission of the organization and their new planner. "The challenging part of a great golf vacation should be on the course, not in the planning," says Mark Stillings, association president.

In one convenient 48-page package, the planner provides golfers with exactly the information they need to plan a golf vacation, whether it is a buddies' weekend, a couple's getaway or a family vacation.

Page after page highlights the important details of ten area courses. Handy charts showcase the vital stats for yardage, slope and rating for each of their Red, Silver, White, Blue and Gold tee options.

With each course description comes hints about the play like "postage stamp greens," " numerous risk/reward
opportunities," " area’s largest white-sand bunkers" and " magnificent seaside links layout."

To ensure the golfers are in the know, the planner provides all the necessary policy information on attire, check-in, carts, equipment, pace of play and weather.

After completely whetting the golfer's appetite for playing the Alabama Gulf Coast, the planner offers everything else needed to realize the experience. Because at some point even the most avid golfer has to leave the course.

For those times, the planner delivers accommodation information from select area providers. These hotels and resorts have partnered with the association to offer tailored Play and Stay packages and all are within an easy drive of the courses.

And when the appetite for golf turns into the appetite for a great meal, the planner serves up a sampling of area restaurants where the greens come on the salads and the clubs are sandwiches.

To receive a copy of the 2010 Gulf Shores Golf Vacation Planner, visit, or download a copy here on our blog.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Signature Courses

I have a renewed appreciation for professionally designed golf courses after playing golf with a friend at a "regular" course last weekend. It had been a while since either of us had played--life just gets too much in the way sometimes. We chose a nearby course with a fairly low green fee. We played. And it was fine; we got our golf fix.

But it just wasn't as satisfying an experience as I've had in the past. Sure, we got to hit the ball around and we both had decent scores; I had some good drives and even came close to breaking 100 (I consider that decent). But where was the creativity in the course layout? Where was the challenge? Where were the sand dunes and wildlife?

Ok, maybe the expectation of sand dunes is too much--it probably didn't help that the last time I played golf was during my last visit to Gulf Shores. But the array of signature golf courses in the Alabama Gulf Coast area has spoiled me. Courses designed by golf greats like Arnold Palmer, Bruce Devlin, and others offer so much more originality and beauty. These guys know the game, and they know how to create a course layout that presents a playable challenge.

Check out the Gulf Shores golf courses at