from Golf Pennsylvania - Golf Northeast | Summer 2024

The golf trip.

It is the lifeblood of the golf industry.

It bonds people together. It creates memories. It adds excitement to vacations. It transforms the game of golf into a very social, all-day activity.

I am addicted to the golf trip.

The quest for new places to play and new things to do never ends. People are always asking about someplace different to visit on their next golf trip.

That’s why this latest trip to the Gulf Coast of Alabama was such an eye-opening and rewarding experience. 

Visit Mobile

That term is not just an invitation, it is the name of the marketing arm for the charming city perched on the shores of Mobile Bay. Going back 30 or 40 years, marketing Mobile would have been a tough assignment. It was no longer the thriving shipping port that was once the tenth-richest city in America.

But an amazing renaissance has taken place in recent years. New buildings have been constructed. Old buildings have been renovated. The historic downtown district is now a bustling collection of historic hotels, sophisticated and charming restaurants and lively night spots.

“What has been happening in Mobile is truly amazing,” said David Clark, president and CEO of Visit Mobile. “Corporations and vacationers are coming here and spending inordinate amounts of dollars. Our tourism industry is booming.”

That industry will get a boost soon with the completion of a new downtown airport that will feature many more non-stop flights from cities across America.

The most notable addition to the downtown district is the historic Renaissance Battle House Hotel & Spa. This luxury hotel has roots back to 1852 but literally rose from the dead thanks to a major renovation in 2007. It had been closed for more than 30 years until it was purchased by the Retirement Systems of Alabama and made part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Hotel Collection. The historic style of the hotel is complemented nicely by modern amenities.

The spacious suites, the magnificent rotunda over the main floor, the streetside bar, the Trellis Room restaurant, the state-of-the-art spa and the rooftop pool all combine to make the perfect launching point for a Mobile-based golf trip. And it is directly across the street from the second-tallest building in Mobile, the 34-story RSA Trustmark Bank Building.

On the top floor is the spectacular Dauphin’s Casual Fine-Dining Restaurant. Providing panoramic views of Mobile Bay, it is a must-visit for dinner while in Mobile. Local wild-caught Cobia and Red Snapper, plus giant sweet oysters, were just some of the superstars on the menu. The restaurant was founded by former Miami Dolphin and University of Alabama standout defensive lineman Bob Baumhower. He is CEO of Aloha Hospitality, operating 15 restaurants across Alabama.

While Dauphin’s is the flagship, the most exciting of his properties sits 424 feet below in the basement of the building. Las Floriditas is an authentic Cuban speakasy that serves “comida tipica”, traditional Cuban food, and craft cocktails … all in a colorful Havana-style atmosphere. On Thursday nights, the place really hops to the sounds of a contemporary Cuban orchestra. Las Floriditas harkens back to the famous Havana-Mobile trade route that resulted in the creation of Sister Cities.

A few miles outside of town the RTJ Golf Trail begins at Magnolia Grove. This property includes two excellent Robert Trent Jones-designed courses, the Crossings Course and the Falls Course. Plus, it boasts the No. 1-rated Short Course in America, an 18-hole, par 54 championship layout. The new Mini Verde Ultradwarf greens are a treat.

Continuing the short drive to Fairhope, Alabama brings visitors to one of America’s most luxurious hideaways, the Grand Hotel, a sprawling property along the shore of Mobile Bay. This 175-year-old hotel represents the height of southern hospitality and charm. It sits on 550 acres of stunning natural beauty and despite all of its history, is a modern sanctuary of golf, tennis, beach, resort-size pools, fine dining restaurant and spa. 

Although the two golf courses – the Dogwood and the Azalea -- are part of the RTJ Golf Trail, they were not designed by Robert Trent Jones. They are the collaborative effort, over many years, of Perry Maxwell, Joe Lee and Ron Garl -- then renovated by Roger Rulewich, the chief designer for Robert Trent Jones.

“The pedigree of the courses at Lakewood is amazing,” remarked Niall Fraser, the director of golf operations, who also worked for many years managing the construction teams for Trent Jones and Rulewich. “The courses were designed by great architects, then given the most loving and considerate renovations possible,” he continued. “The result is two solid golf courses that have stood the test of time.”

To recap, a golf trip to Mobile provides a choice of two luxurious, historic hotels, an amazing array of fabulous dining options, four championship golf courses and the No. 1-rated short course in America.