GULF SHORES, Ala. – Due to a saturation of golf courses in the region and the opportunity to provide new nature-based recreational opportunities at Gulf State Park, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ALDCNR) officials announced this week that the Gulf State Park’s golf course will close in December.
Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said the state park’s golf course has been losing money for several years and that he “could not in good conscience allow our financial resources to continue to be diverted to subsidize the golf course while there are many other possibilities for the use of that property that can provide varied outdoor experiences for our guests and the community.”
The decision to close the Gulf State Park course was not made lightly, he said; indeed, it followed the development of a master plan for the park that recommended the golf course be repurposed into other outdoor recreation opportunities for patrons. ALDCNR also engaged a third-party that specializes in studying golf courses and developing plans to identify how to make the best use of the facility. The Gulf State Park Master Plan can be found at www.mygulfstatepark.com.
“There are more than a half-dozen other golf courses in the region, and that saturation means the prognosis for profitability of our course is not good,” said State Parks Director Greg Lein. “We can’t afford to continue operating in the red year after year. That not only negatively impacts Gulf State Park, but our system as a whole.”
The good news, he said, is that several courses in the area have agreed to offer special rates for Gulf State Park’s campground and lodge guests from December 3rd through February 28, 2019. For example, Craft Farms in Gulf Shores will offer a “play anytime” rate of $46.50, Peninsula Golf Club in Gulf Shores will offer $51.50 and Rock Creek in Fairhope will offer $34.83. Each of the three courses will offer an early-bird (before 9 a.m.) rate of $39, and all will charge $24 for a nine-hole round after 3 p.m., plus other special rates as well. Park guests will have to present a receipt from the park to qualify for these exclusive rates.
Gulf State Park is considered the “crown jewel” of Alabama’s state parks system, sporting a brand new, 350-room hotel that includes five restaurants, several pools, outdoor terraces and 40,000 square feet of meeting space. The 6,500-acre park itself includes three miles of Gulf beaches, one of the Gulf of Mexico’s longest fishing piers, 28 miles of walking and biking trails, cabins, camping spaces and the freshwater Lake Shelby. The park is made up of nine ecosystems.
“This was a very difficult decision and one that we know impacts the lives of a number of our staff here at Gulf State Park,” said Gary Ellis, Director of Community Relations and Administration at Gulf State Park. “We notified all of our golf course staff as a group of the decision, but we will be meeting one-on-one with all of them over the next several days to try to identify opportunities for them in the park or elsewhere in the system. We want to do everything we can to support them during this time of transition.”
The golf course’s last day of operation will be Dec. 2.
About Alabama’s State Parks System
Alabama State Parks is a division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The division maintains 22 parks encompassing approximately 48,000 acres of land and water. These parks rely on visitor fees and the support of other partners like local communities to fund the majority of their operations. Download the State Parks app at pocketranger.com. For more information about Alabama State Parks, go online to www.alapark.com.
Partners Pay the Way.