Taking a golf vacation on the Gulf Coast is like having an open invitation to play all the best country clubs you need a membership to play on back home. There are seven championship golf courses within a short drive, and all are open to the public. Throw in the fact that the weather is conducive to playing almost year-round, and it’s literally a golfer’s paradise.

Most courses are open seven days a week with low fall/winter rates and even lower rates for playing in the afternoon.

Kiva Dunes

One of the most acclaimed golf courses on the Gulf is Kiva Dunes.  Among the numerous designations it has received are Golf Digest’s “America’s 100 Best Public Golf Courses”  and Golf Week’s “No. 1 Golf Course in Alabama.” Designed to sit along the Gulf of Mexico by former US Open Champion, Jerry Pate, the course fits beautifully among sand dunes, lakes and the natural wildlife areas. Since it’s one of the more windy and difficult courses to play on the Gulf Coast, Kiva Dunes may be frustrating for high handicappers. Located on Fort Morgan Road in Gulf Shores, rates range from $64 – $92 depending on the time of year and time of day.

Peninsula Golf and Racquet Club

Peninsula Golf and Racquet Club is one of the more beautiful and popular courses in the area. Consistently rated Four Stars by Golf Digest, this Earl Stone designed 27-hole course is nestled beside Bon Secour Wildlife Preserve and winds through cypress, live oaks and other vegetation native to the area. There are three nines to pick from –the Marsh, Lakes and Cypress. The Champion Ultra Dwarf grass greens are big and fast. Set on Mobile Bay and located on Fort Morgan Road, rates range from $69 – $99.

Craft Farms

There are two Arnold Palmer Signature Championship Golf Courses at Craft Farms.  Cotton Creek and Cypress Bend are the only courses in the state designed by the golf legend. Both course are generally considered challenging, but fair. Rates ranges from $59 -$99

Gulf Shores Golf Club

Gulf Shores Golf Club was one of the first golf courses built in the area. It was redesigned in 2005 by Jay and Carter Morrish to lengthen it’s almost 7,000 yards and add numerous water features and bunkers. It’s one of the more female-friendly courses in the area. Fall/winter rates range from $49 – $69.

Glenlakes Golf Club

Glenlakes Golf Club is a Bruce Devlin/Robert Von Hagge designed 18-hole course in Foley.  Glenlakes has the feel of Scottish links golf featuring extra bunkering and postage-stamp sized greens. Considered one of the best values in the area, rates range from $30 to $65.

Lost Key Golf Course

Lost Key Golf Course has been nicknamed “Lost Ball” for the tightness of the course and number of balls lost to water features, wind gusts and other natural vegetation. However, golfers who play a precision game will enjoy the challenge and beauty of the course. Redesigned by the Arnold Palmer Group in 2006, Lost Key was the first golf course in the State of Florida to be certified as an Audubon International Silver Signature Sanctuary. Located in Perdido Key, rates range from $50 – $99.

Considering the natural beauty of the area, it’s no wonder some of the top designers in golf have chosen the Alabama Gulf Coast to construct their masterpieces. So, next time you are headed to the beach, don’t forget your clubs!