Alabama Gulf Shores' Kiva Dunes resort highly rated yet still underrated
I’ve stayed and played at some of the poshest golf resorts in North America, from Scottsdale to Cabo to Hawaii to Whistler and beyond. I’ve never stayed at one that’s demonstrably better than Kiva Dunes Golf Course on the Alabama Gulf Coast.
Kiva Dunes is that rare place that manages to be both highly rated (it’s been deemed one of America’s Top 75 golf resorts by Golf Digest) and underrated at the same time.
For Kiva’s good enough to be better than Top 75. It’s one of the 20 best golf resorts on this continent no doubt.
There’s just something incredibly relaxing about the place. The course on the Gulf of Mexico is unlike any other course you’ll play in the Alabama Gulf Shores or the neighboring Mississippi Gulf Coast or anywhere really. It’s the best work of underrated designer Jerry Pate, and its somehow amazingly less than $100 high season.
Plus, it’s literally right below your room if you’re staying in the comfortable lodge. A lot of golf resorts tout how easy it is to get to the first tee. Then, you find yourself groggily sipping coffee on a 10-minute shuttle ride. At Kiva Dunes, you hop on the elevator, go down a few floors and you’re right in the golf shop.
There’s something priceless about that convenience. A lot of resorts joke that you can roll right out of bed onto the first tee. At Kiva, you almost really can. The only resort I’ve experienced that’s close to that is La Costa in the greater San Diego area and the golf’s better at Kiva Dunes than La Costa.
Kiva Dunes general manager Mark Stillings is right when he touts “the quiet” there. It’s hard to find quiet these days and Kiva’s is not some artificial marketing spin.
The only thing that could hold Kiva Dunes back is that it only has one golf course. That puts it at a disadvantage against some of the mammoth resorts no doubt. But it’s somewhat mitigated by the fact that Peninsula Golf Club - a 27-hole facility with its own great feel - is a straight shot 15 minutes down the road.
That’s closer than sister courses at some of North America’s monster golf resorts.
Kiva Dunes has gotten good press. But it deserves even more from golf writers afraid to give it a rightful Top 20 spot.
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