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.