A Visit To Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Alabama
Golfing at Peninsula and Kiva Dunes Golf Clubs…not to be missed

Story & Photos by: Ed & Fran Stone

Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, Alabama have become a favorite for not only golfers to the Gulf of Mexico area but also to families looking for a variety of activities and entertainment. We found the area ideal for couples, families and golfing groups wanting to enjoy a year-round destination.

The Beach Club offers lots of amenities for the visitors. (photo by The Beach Club)

Over the years, we’ve had the privilege of enjoying this part of the Alabama Gulf Coast and it continues to be a favorite. Many times, we’ve stated that Orange Beach is a continuation of the Florida Panhandle sporting the sugar white sands so popular in the Pensacola area.

On a recent golfing visit, we stayed at The Beach Club very close to Kiva Dunes and Peninsula Golf Courses. This was an ideal location offering a quiet beach and outstanding restaurants. This beachfront condominium facility is operated by Spectrum Resorts who also manages another one of our favorites, Turquoise Place on Orange Beach. We thoroughly enjoyed a delicious meal at The Beach Club’s Coast Restaurant overlooking the enchanting Gulf of Mexico.

Kiva Dunes Golf Club

Kiva Dunes is a tight layout, but very fair to the golfer.  It is one of those golf courses you want to go back and play time and time, again.

Kiva Dunes is a tight layout, but very fair to the golfer.  It is one of those golf courses you want to go back and play time and time, again. We relished the opportunity to play this beautifully designed course by Jerry Pate. Kiva Dunes is located between the Gulf of Mexico and Mobile Bay on some of the most beautiful landscape any designer would want for a golf course.  The course is unique and challenging. 

For the low handicapper, you can hit from the tips (gold tees) stretching some 7,122 yards or for us bogey players, we chose the white tees offering 5,878 yards…and that’s plenty. There are four forced carries on the front nine and four on the back. Pate took full advantage of the terrain and truly built a course that is most enjoyable for all skill levels of golf.

The numbers one and two handicap holes are #7 and #12. Both are par 4’s but quite long. Seven is 495 yards and twelve is 452 yards from the back tees. Number one handicap hole requires at least a 150 yard forced carry off the tee and you need to keep your tee shot toward the right side of fairway.  Number 12 has water on the left from tee to green. Both are pretty much a straight away with no other hazards.

Kiva Dunes Golf Digest Ratings:
Voted #2 – Best New Public Courses in U.S. – Dec. 1995
Voted – Alabama’s BEST Place to Play – Jan. 1995
Ranked #24 – America’s Top 75 Upscale Courses – May 1996
Ranked #68 in America’s Top 75 Golf Resorts – Mar. 2002
Ranked #58 in America’s Top 100 Public Courses – May 2003
Kiva Dunes Golf Magazine Ratings:
Appeared in Top 10 You Can Play - Feb. 1996

The history and “how Kiva Dunes came to be” is quite interesting. Jim "Scrappy" Edgemon, an undergraduate at the University of Alabama back in the 1970’s was standing on the tee box of the par 3, 16th hole at the University course in Tuscaloosa. Some 160-yards away was a fellow student on the golf team working on some precision putting drills. Finally Edgemon was waved to hit up to the green. The green-side golfer recalls thinking, "Man that looks pretty good.” The golf ball took one hop and rolled towards the hole. The golfer pulled the pin and it went in for an ace! This was the introduction of Jerry Pate to Scrappy Edgemon who went on to become a major developer on the Alabama coast. Jerry Pate went on to win the 1974 U.S. Amateur and the 1976 U.S. Open. In 1985, Edgemon invited Pate to visit and review a piece of real estate he wanted to develop that would become Kiva Dunes. Pate is quoted as thinking, "Golf architects would kill for this piece of property." Rather than selecting the big names in course design, Edgemon chose not Fazio, Nicklaus, Dye or other top names, he chose Pate. "He's been a winner at everything he's ever done," Edgemon says. "I'd seen his work and I knew his passion. I knew, when given the best land, he'd do the best job.” And he did.

Kiva Dunes has vacation rentals in homes and condos with both on or near the beach. This is a full-fledged oceanfront resort. Check out their website: www.kivadunes.com


Peninsula Golf & Racquet Club:

Discovering a golf course close to the beach with a layout friendly to our golf game is always a treat. The 27-holes of Peninsula Golf and Racquet Club is not only creatively set along beautiful Mobile Bay, but is also one of Earl Stone’s best designs and made for the game of the bogey golfer. Of no relationship, Earl Stone is now our favorite golf course architect. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2016.

Peninsula Golf and Racquet Club offers up to 7,026 yards, on any combination of the three distinctive 9-holes of the 27-hole complex from the championship tees.

Earl has stated in numerous interviews that he builds every course with the 18-handicapper in mind. “Peninsula is my favorite golf course, of all my designs,” he often told reporters. He imposed the fact that he rejected the creation of today’s design of golf courses with blind shots, forced carries and immense bunkers. Earl was the contrast to Pete Dye who is often recognized as the No.1 architect in the world and infamous for his "Dyeabolical" designs. Peninsula is one of Alabama’s most spectacular golf venues and is located some 10 minutes from the Beach Club and 15 minutes from Turquoise Place in Orange Beach.

Peninsula Golf and Racquet Club offers up to 7,026 yards, on any combination of the three distinctive 9-holes of the 27-hole complex from the championship tees. This is a course where all skill levels of your game can be tested and enjoyed. Peninsula is rich in nature as it is tucked beside the Bon Secour Wildlife Preserve and winds through stately live oaks, cypress and other natural vegetation native to this area of Alabama.

Peninsula Golf & Racquet Club is a full-service golf club offering a range of social activities and events for the entire family.

This beautiful golf layout has been justifiably rated by Golf Advisor as its Top 15 Golf Courses to play in Alabama and in the Top 10 Best Conditioned Course in the U.S. With three 9-hole courses, we took a look at each of the number one handicaps on each nine. On the Marsh course, number two is a par 5 and from the tips, it stretches 628 yards…enough said! The Lakes course requires you to play until number 9 for handicap #1 that is a par 4, 434 yards with water down the right side from tee to green. On the Cypress course, number one handicap is the 8th hole, a par 5 stretching 608 yards with water on the left for most of the distance.

Peninsula Golf & Racquet Club is a full-service golf club offering a range of social activities and events for the entire family. The recently remodeled clubhouse features a restaurant and grill. In addition there’s an 8,000 sq. ft. fitness center, 8 Rubico tennis courts, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and other amenities.

Whether you live in the area, visit on a seasonal basis or come down for a few days of R&R, we encourage you to check out Peninsula. Now on our list of “let’s go back and play again.”

Spectrum Resorts is the management company overseeing The Beach Club property near Fort Morgan and another one of our favorite places, Turquoise Place in Orange Beach. They do a terrific job in handling reservations and on-property check-in, housekeeping, security and making all guests feel comfortable. They are the best!

  • Above: The Beach Club cottages and condos are individually owned and offer one bedroom condos.
    Below: Turquoise Place has amenities for every member of the family. If this is not enough to pique your interest, check out the 450 foot seasonally heated lazy river.
    The Beach Club: This is an upscale property with a casual feeling for all guests. The Beach Club cottages and condos are individually owned and offer one bedroom condos perfect for romantic getaways to five bedroom penthouses, ideal for large families. You will feel right at home when staying at The Beach Club Resort & Spa.
  • Turquoise Place: Spectrum Resorts is the exclusive on-site provider for daily housekeeping, grocery delivery and on-site check-in. Turquoise Place has amenities for every member of the family. If this is not enough to pique your interest, check out the 450 foot seasonally heated lazy river. We don’t know of many properties offering this family aquatic feature. There’s also five swimming pools and signature spa treatments available on property.  If you are into a daily fitness routine, then you can stay on schedule with the Gulf-view Fitness Center featuring televisions, treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes and free weights. Turquoise Place has saunas and steam rooms located in both towers as part of the indoor-pool areas. Don’t forget you have your own private hot tub on your balcony, plus…three oversized indoor hot tubs located adjacent to the indoor pools. There are two lighted tennis courts on property.

Dining in Gulf Shores/Orange Beach:

We mentioned earlier the Coast Restaurant at The Beach Club. It would be considered upscale for a laid-back beach location.  However, the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area has a plethora of outstanding dining options.  Here are just a few of our favorites:

Cobalts – One of the upscale restaurants that does not take reservations after 5:30pm. Located on the bay and offers a wide selection of seafood. Limited offering of steaks, chicken and chops.

Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area has a plethora of outstanding dining options.

The Gulf – Believe us…it is on the Gulf and on the beach. Combination seating of covered or open air. You get in line to order a selection of overstuffed sandwiches and good selection of beverages. A server will bring your order to your table. Very nicely decorated, good service and the food is outstanding.

Doc’s – Very causal (everything is casual in this area) and laid back dining. Prepare for a short wait, outside in your vehicle or benches next to the building. Lots of seafood choices and very tasty. You need at least one meal at Doc’s.

Fisher’s – One of the nicest upscale/casual eateries in the area. Fisher’s offers a great selection of seafood, steaks, chicken and soups (shrimp & okra gumbo). You can’t go wrong with this one.

Steamers – Dinning inside or on the deck. Loved the large boiled shrimp…we mean large. They offer an excellent selection of steamed seafood, including Royal Red shrimp, Alaskan Snow Crab Legs and fresh fish daily.

Playa – It’s not surprising that Johnny Fisher (owner of Fisher’s) has created outstanding restaurants. Recently opened he serves a great Caribbean menu that includes outstanding seafood’s, steaks and sandwiches. A not to be missed eatery on the Gulf Coast.

Villaggio Grille – This is one of our favorites in Orange Beach. The Villaggio Grille is located at an entertainment complex called The Wharf. This fine dining "Italian-inspired" restaurant and bar is part of 16 other bars and eateries. The menu is packed with tasty and exquisite dishes to fit any appetite. They offer both indoor and outside dining.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach offers more than great golf and dining.  This area is also famous for both fresh water and deep sea fishing. Charter boats for hire with seasoned guides make sure you make your catch. For the family, there are several entertainment center, go-kart tracks, etc. In other words, you’ll find it all in this year-round Gulf Coast ocean resort area. We’ll be back!

FOR MORE INFORMATION: CLICK HERE TO WATCH A SHORT YOUTUBE VIDEO

Gulf Shores Welcome Center
3459 Gulf Shores Parkway (Hwy. 59 south)
Gulf Shores, AL 36542
Phone: 251-968-7511 or 800-745-SAND

Orange Beach Welcome Center
23685 Perdido Beach Blvd. (Hwy. 182)
Orange Beach, AL 36561
Phone: 251-974-1510 or 800-982-8562

Website: www.gulfshores.com

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