GULF SHORES, Ala. - Although Peninsula Golf and Racquet Club is located at the bottom of the state of Alabama it should be at the top of your golfing vacation list. Along Mobile Bay and touching two sides of the Bon Secour Wildlife Preserve, designer Earl Stone carved out 27 wonderful holes of golf, each providing you with a most scenic venue.
Before you have your spikes on, a member of Peninsula's outside services will have your clubs on a cart waiting for you. After a short drive to the front door, you will find a pro shop stocked to fit your every need.
Whether it's men's or women's clothing, they offer an equal amount of each. If it's a pair of shoes you need, they will have your size. Chris Wilkinson and his staff may even have that certain video or book you've been looking for. Within a short walk from the pro shop is a practice green and driving range with a wide array of flags to hit to.
Situated in a residential community, Peninsula also offers swimming and tennis to its homeowners. The Cypress nine is the newest and longest of the three nines, having opened in August of 1998. The red tees play 2,493 yards, whites 2,868, blues 3,367 and golds 3,604.
The eighth hole, a par-five measuring 572 yards from the blues, may be one of the toughest holes you'll ever play. From tee to green there is water and sand lining both sides of the fairway. The green is protected on the front left by water and three traps in the back. And as with most courses on the Gulf Coast, the wind may have you hitting a 160-yard three iron.
The par-three third on the cypress course is also likely to stick with you for a while. Included in the 212 yards you are required to carry from the blue tees is water and a waste bunker.
Stone did an exceptional job positioning the holes around 30 lakes that are located on the property. He has elevated some of the bermuda greens while fashioning others in stadium style. You will find most to be of medium size with subtle undulations.
Both the Marsh nine and the Lakes nine opened in mid-1995. The Marsh plays 2,587 yards from the reds, whites 2,990, blues 3,336 and golds 3,575, while the Lakes plays at 2,485, 2,809, 3,158 and 3,451 respectively. All three courses play to a par of 36.
One tee shot that is most disinclining comes at No. 6 on the Marsh nine. A swamp area of about 150 yards must be carried from the blue and gold tees. As a reward, only a short iron is needed into this par-four elevated green.
One of the longer par-fives you will ever play, 580 yards from the blues and 628 from the golds, awaits at No. 2 on this nine. And yes, there is water running down both sides just to make sure you do not spray those fairway woods. If you are fortunate enough, you will get to play this one into the wind as I did.
The Lakes nine is appropriately named, as you will encounter water on every hole. Numbers 5,6 and 7 on this side are perhaps the nicest three consecutive holes at Peninsula.
The green of the par-four fifth sits beautifully next to a lake, the same lake you must traverse on your tee shot on No. 6, the first of two impressive par-fives. If you successfully clear the lake a large trap runs the entire left side of the fairway, just to make sure you don't try to cut the corner of this slight dogleg left.
Number 7 plays 500 yards from the blue tees and sits adjacent to the banks of Mobile Bay. One would think Stone was trying to use the spectacular view across the water to ease your mind of the daunting tee shot which lies ahead. After negotiating about a 50 yard stretch of wasteland, you must be careful not to run through the fairway and into the woods. A heavily protected green waits ahead.
When it's time to tally up the scores and grab a refreshment, there's a full restaurant and bar ready to serve you. From the moment you drive through the gorgeous entrance, until the final putt hits the bottom of the cup, the staff at Peninsula will see to it that you have one of the most enjoyable rounds of golf on the Gulf Coast. You can get future information about the golf course at www.thepeninsula.com.
Peninsula Golf and Racquet Club
P.O. Box 395
Gulf Shores, Alabama 36547-0395
Telephone: (800) 646-5554