Home to the original Golf Trail, Alabama is a golf destination unlike any other
Sweet Home Alabama is more than just a song or a movie, although they both certainly evoke the spirit of the beautiful state. It’s also a mantra for the hard-working, friendly folks who travelers encounter along the way. From the bagboys and beverage cart girls on the world-class golf courses to the servers and chefs in the award-winning restaurants, visitors are made to feel right at home, ensuring that time spent in Alabama is as sweet as the tea.
Sweet Home Alabama is a golfing destination unlike any other, as home to the original golf trail, modern and historic golf resorts, and more than 32 miles of sugar-white beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. Both the incomparable Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and the Arnold Palmer-designed Craft Farms Resort in Gulf Shores put Alabama on the radar of traveling golf groups more than two decades ago. The ensuing years have upgraded the state’s position on all types of vacation bucket lists by spawning award-winning hotels, spas, and luxurious resorts; exciting craft breweries with medal-quality beers; world-renowned bass fishing events and red snapper rodeos; and a thriving culinary scene, ranging from fresh Gulf seafood and a unique BBQ Trail to James Beard-recognized chefs and restaurants.
Just a few of the golf resorts that make Alabama so special are Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa in Birmingham, boasting an RTJ Golf Trail golf course, luxurious spa and delectable dining; Pursell Farms just 45 minutes south of Birmingham, which is a unique golf resort with lodging options ranging from a brand-new boutique inn, 4 bedroom golf cottages and an 8 bedroom lodge, along with the award-winning Farmlinks golf course; the century-and-a-half-old Grand Hotel Golf Resort and Spa on Mobile Bay, considered the “queen of Southern resorts;” and Kiva Dunes in Gulf Shores, Alabama’s only gulf-front golf resort offering a Jerry Pate-designed course, clubhouse and fairway condominiums, as well as beach homes to rent.
Here’s a snapshot of some of the golfing locales in the state to allow you to create a custom golf vacation to Sweet Home Alabama.
HUNTSVILLE is a great place to start your Alabama golf journey, as the most northern location of the golf trail and home to the US Space & Rocket Center. But there’s also two more trails to enjoy while in the Rocket City. Wet your whistle on either the Downtown Huntsville Craft Beer Trail or the Craft Cocktail Trail, both with ten stops. Lodging options range from convenient hotels near golf to upscale accommodations downtown.
Just west of Huntsville is one of the newer locations of the Trail. THE SHOALS area consists of the river town of Florence and Muscle Shoals, the “hit recording capital of the world.” The RTJ Golf Trail at The Shoals offers 36 holes and a luxurious Marriott Resort both located right on the Tennessee River, although on different sides. Music lovers flock to the studios where so many great songs were recorded, foodies enjoy the variety of restaurants and golfers love the challenge of the courses.
Alabama’s largest city, BIRMINGHAM is home to two RTJ Golf Trail sites (Ross Bridge and Oxmoor Valley) and the state’s most luxurious golf resort at Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa, plus the Barber Vintage Motor Sports Museum, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, James Beard Award winning/nominated chefs and restaurants, four craft breweries and exciting nightlife options that only a city this size can offer. You can choose to stay on-site at Ross Bridge, at an historic downtown hotel, a boutique inn or any number of convenient branded hotels.
The sister cities of AUBURN-OPELIKA combine to create the coolest college town and one of the most intriguing small towns in the South. It’s also home to Robert Trent Jones’ favorite location on his trail. The RTJ Golf Trail at Grand National boast 54 holes of scenic and challenging golf along a gleaming lake. These two small towns have an abundance of great eateries too, plus the Red Clay Brewery and the award-winning John Emerald Distilling Company are located in historic downtown Opelika. Your overnight choices include the on-site Marriott Golf Resort & Spa at Grand National, the on-campus Auburn University Hotel and a bunch of hotels and B&Bs scattered around.
Once called the Paris of the South, MOBILE has long been the cultural center of the Gulf Coast and you’ll find an authentic experience like nowhere else in the southern United States. As the birthplace of America’s original Mardi Gras, a good time is easy to find in this port city. Attractions include the USS Alabama Battleship, Bellingrath Gardens & Home, riverboat dinner cruises, the Dauphin Street entertainment district and a couple of craft breweries. Not only is the RTJ Golf Trail’s most southern stop, the 54-hole Magnolia Grove, in Mobile, but there are several other challenging courses to keep you in town a bit longer.
And choosing to stay longer will be easier when you stay at either the historic Renaissance Battle House Hotel & Spa or the Renaissance Riverview Plaza, both part of the RTJ Golf Trail collection of hotels and resorts.
GULF SHORES AND ORANGE BEACH are home to 32 miles of white sandy beaches that line the pristine turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Add the nine premier golf courses to the numerous adventurous activities, including fishing, boating, kayaking and biking, and you’ll find there’s more to this small beach town than meets the eye. Then, after a full day of fun in the sun you can grab a hearty meal at one of the many locally-owned restaurants that specialize in everything from fresh Gulf seafood to sweet Alabama BBQ. And don’t forget to wash down your meal and end your day with a cold beer at Big Beach Brewing Company or an infamous bushwacker (aka adult milkshake) at the legendary Flora-Bama Lounge & Oyster Bar. At the end of the night, you’ll want a comfy place to lay your head and fortunately Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have an outstanding selection of accommodations from hi-rise condos and colorful beach houses to nationally-branded hotels and resorts.
The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, with its eight hotels/resorts and 26 courses at 11 sites around the state, and Coastal Alabama Golf, the booking entity for the Gulf Shores-Orange Beach area, are eager to put together customized golf packages for your foursome or group.
Colorado AvidGolfer Magazine is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via coloradoavidgolfer.com.