Golf in the Gulf

Great golf runs abundant in Alabama's Gulf Shores


Designed by Bama’s own Jerry Pate, Kiva Dunes gives ample proof that Mr. Pate has a fondness for Scottish-style golf, as he’s built a layout where consideration must be paid to the wind gusts off the nearby Gulf before attempting your shot. Most of the dune-flanked green fronts are able to accept an old school “keep it out of the breeze” run up. One can imagine Old Tom Morris offering Pate a wee dram and a hearty “Well done, laddie!”

Two Kiva Dunes holes are of the highest order. The par-3 13th, at 175 yards to an exposed flag perched menacingly on a giant dune rising up out of the earth like a burial plot for a wooly mammoth, tests your mettle from tee to green. Your mettle better have one heck of a short game if you don’t have a putter in your hands for your second, as the green has more twists and turns than a 22-year-old Elvis after a triple espresso. Lurking silently left is a canal which bisects the course and is very much in play for any pitch hit too strong or played off the wrong swale. Good luck. 

The par-5 15th is flat-out worth the airfare from wherever you are to the Pensacola Airport, which is about 40 minutes away as the seagull flies. With the teeing ground slightly raised behind a grove of brush, you’re just able to spy the flagstick fluttering on a dramatic hillock 540 yards straight ahead with cavernous steep bunkers surrounding the plateau in a sinister semi-circle. All the lurking trouble is in plain sight; all that’s required is three perfect shots and the finesse of a cat burglar. The hole could be airlifted and dropped right onto Ballybunion or Dornoch and nobody would be the wiser. Mr. Pate, a U.S. Open winner at the Atlanta Athletic Club, obviously has more in his quiver than just a first-rate golf game.



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