I’ve gone by the moniker “Mobile Golfer” for eight years now, and at least once a year someone asks if I’m from Alabama. Because I’m always talking about Alabama golf? Nope. Maybe it’s because of my obsession with Alabama barbecue? Not that either. Most times it’s simply because I have the word “Mobile” in my nickname — and some identify that word with the waterfront city more than “always on the go.” I get it, and I do LOVE Mobile, Alabama, but I’m from the Midwest and “Minnesota Golfer” just doesn’t have the same ring to it (especially six months out of the year).
You may be thinking we’ve already covered Southern Alabama in this “Ultimate Itineraries” series, and you’d partially be right. We gave you the rundown on Foley and Gulf Shores. But there’s so much more golf to cover in Alabama’s southland, and when you’re trying to break it up into four- or five-day swings, you pretty much need two trips.
You can similarly fly into Mobile or Pensacola for this getaway, depending on which works better for your schedule from your home airport. Either way, we’ll assume you arrive early enough to get a round in on Day 1.
For the sake of creative convenience, we’re going to assume you flew into Mobile, which gives you the most flexibility golf-wise. You can begin your trip at one of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s signature stops — Magnolia Grove — with three different courses, one of them being the 18-hole Short Course ... perfect if you’re a bit short on daylight.
If you have the time to start with one of Magnolia Grove’s full-size championship courses — The Falls or The Crossings — go with whichever is most open. Both are incredibly fun and scenic. The Crossings course has hosted numerous LPGA Tour events and has some cool waste areas blanketed by oyster shells, along with significant elevation changes, beautiful bridges and water features. The Falls is the only par-71 track on the RTJ Golf Trail and features some of the biggest greens along with cloverleaf bunkers. You’ll enjoy the holes along the water and waterfalls. Ah, who am I kidding ... you’ll enjoy them all.
My favorite hotel in Mobile is the famous Renaissance Battle House with its awesome rooftop pool. Conveniently, it is one of the partner hotels of the RTJ Golf Trail, so stay-and-play packages are readily available. And you’re in Alabama, so great barbecue is also readily available. While I usually like to sample around, and people tell me that Cotton State is great, when I’m in Mobile MY heart (and money) belongs to one place and one place only: Meat Boss on Cottage Hill Road. Sir Real! (Surreal) I mentioned to a friend of mine who works at Travel + Leisure magazine that this place is one of America’s best and, wouldn’t you know it, the next year they listed it as one of “The 25 Best Places for Barbecue in the U.S.” Guess the word is out: This place does barbecue like a ... well ... Boss. (Their Brown Bay Breakfast with meat wrapped in a pancake is unforgettable.)
Head back over to Magnolia Grove and play the other full-size course in the morning, then follow it up with the Short Course that Golf Digest once named “The Best Par 3 Course in America.” The short courses on the RTJ Golf Trail are truly something special. My personal favorites are the two nine-holers at Silver Lakes and Cambrian Ridge, but I do agree the par-3 course at Magnolia Grove is my favorite 18-hole one (while others on the Golf Trip Experts team give that nod to the par-3 collection at Grand National).
Playing a full-length course and a short course today gives you ample daylight to amble over to Point Clear to visit another Trail stop: Lakewood Golf Club. And Lakewood’s incredible stay-and-play partner is the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club and Spa, right on Mobile Bay. Man, those sunsets are beautiful over the bay from the comfort of the chairs and hammocks scattered along the Grand’s boardwalk.
Timber We’re Falling In Love
The nature of Lakewood Golf Club is more private than public, and accordingly the members have sole claim to one of the two courses each day. You don’t know which one you’ll get any given day (and that’s fine, they’re both great) but you’ll get “the other” the next day. That arrangement dictates that anyone looking to play 36 holes in one day either play the same course twice or find something else in the area to entertain. We at Golf Trip Experts like to explore, so we’ll encourage you to do the same. Just 16 short miles north of Lakewood Golf Club, you’ll find that TimberCreek Golf Club is the perfect complement to your morning round.
Whichever of the two courses you get at Lakewood Golf Club in the morning — Azalea or Dogwood — you’ll be thoroughly entertained. The signature hole of the resort is a 5-par on Azalea with an island green, but both courses are loaded with great holes. If I had to pick between the two (which I don’t but will anyway) I’d narrowly go with Dogwood over Azalea because of the fantastic collection of 3-pars AND because I lost a few less golf balls playing it. Better players seem to prefer Azalea, but you can’t really go wrong ... unless you only play one of them. Don’t do that.
The aforementioned TimberCreek will light up your afternoon. If you’re familiar at all with Earl Stone (from his work in Gulf Shores) you’ll be thrilled to find that he designed 27 holes here carved through a forest of dogwoods, magnolias and pines (incidentally the names of the three nines). Because of how different this course is visually from the other courses in the area, it is always a popular play and (especially in the spring) presents itself very much as you’d imagine the famous Augusta National would (if you haven’t been there). You can hang around at the Bar and Grill after your round or rush back to catch the sunset at the Grand Hotel.
Grand Hotel Has No Peer
It does have a pier though, and you’ll see kids fishing off of it and couples walking up and down the planks holding hands. The Grand Hotel is such a cool and romantic place — an idyllic getaway from the big cities in the area. I could sit there for a week, but then this itinerary would be 11 days and ... well ... that wasn’t the original intent.
Today you CAN play “the other” course at Lakewood Golf Club — whichever you didn’t play yesterday — and then make your way to the airport. Or if you’re lucky/smart and managed to get a five-day break for this trip, you can jet eight miles up the road from the Grand to my favorite Earl Stone course at Rock Creek (covered in our Gulf Shores Itinerary), play there and stay here one more night.
As you can see, no matter how much time you have for a quick multi-day golf-intensive getaway, you can load it up with greatness here in Southern Alabama and perhaps even piggyback it with the Gulf Shores itinerary for a 10-day monster jam. Pretty hard to beat the value of an Alabama golf trip any way you shake it, especially if you shake it like we do (not sure that came out right, but you probably get what I meant).