SNOW BIRDS LOOK TO "PUTT DOWN" ON DAUPHIN ISLAND, ALABAMA
As the winter weather turns bitter far to the north, the annual migration of snow birds makes its way to Dauphin Island, Alabama looking to "putt down" for the season.
"Winter Islanders" have found the tiny barrier Island on the Gulf of Mexico to be a popular golfing destination far from the cold, snow-covered links back home.
"A handful of our snow birds come to the Island each winter just to get away, but traditionally most of them come to play golf," said Jeff Collier, GM of the public course and resident PGA member pro. "They come from Canada, Indiana and Illinois, Wisconsin . . . I-65 is a conduit almost straight to the golf course."
Collier, who is also Mayor of the Island, likens the Dauphin Island Golf Course to the more difficult links-style courses built along large bodies of water and forest areas. "Ours is not a true links course, but very similar because of the Gulf and natural roughs, which in our case are dunes and trees," he said. "It's traditionally a course with mixed grasses in the fairways unlike more manicured courses such as Augusta National."
At 600-yards, the par 72 course is fairly narrow and considered by many to be a difficult play. "Accuracy is most important on this course," Collier said. "You don't have to hit it a mile, but you do need to hit it straight to stay in play and out of the dunes."
"Obviously we have a lot of sand," he said, "something that the average golfer doesn't get to experience very often. If you leave the fairway here you're hitting out of sand and that takes a little different approach to the game."
Based on the score card, the most difficult hole on the course is number 5. "Number 5 is a par five with a narrow fairway from tee to green. The second shot requires you to lay-up near the lake and then there is a dog leg to the small green," he said. "Make one bad shot and you might take a ten."
Collier's personal favorite is the secluded number 18 with an elevated tee high into the dune line dropping off into the fairway 60-feet below that's lined with smaller dunes and Live Oaks all the way to the green.
Few planned changes have been made to the Dauphin Island course since opening in the early 1960s, though Mother Nature has had a hand in altering the play over the years. "Because some of the holes are right along the Gulf, they change from time to time by virtue of hurricanes," said Collier with a smile. "With Katrina we lost two greens and three tees, so the new design brought different contours and shapes to the course."
Whether walking the course or taking a cart, the scenery is awesome with views of rolling dunes covered in tall grasses, old oaks bent by years of sea breezes, and the sparkling Gulf water. The relaxed pace makes a round here even more special. "During the winter we're seldom overly crowded and our guests are never pushed by more aggressive golfers wanting to play through, so it's much more enjoyable."
What we have is a little more challenging and rugged by design and that makes it a "neat little course", says Collier.
Dauphin Island, Alabama's Family Beach®, is just 33 miles south of Mobile at the mouth of Mobile Bay. For more information about the Dauphin Island Golf Course and the Island's other attractions, accommodations, activities and restaurants, please visit www.dauphinisland.cc, or call 1-877-532-8744 toll free, 251-861-2433 local .
Address: 100 Orleans, Dauphin Island, AL
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