Gulf Shores Golf Club Review
Gulf Shores Golf Club Review
The Golf Club At The Wharf was built in the 1960's and was the first golf course in Gulf Shores and remains one of the most popular with locals and tourists. In November 2005, the course closed to undergo a complete $5 million renovation by Jay and Carter Morrish. The renovation lengthened the par 71 course by 300 yards and added numerous water features, enhanced the fairways, created new bunkers, new card paths, and more.
The Golf Club At The Wharf is a classic 60's southern design with traditional straight fairways with what you see is what you get - no tricks, no gimmicks, and no gotchas! As such, if you can keep the ball in play you're most likely going to have a fun, relaxing, and low scoring round.
However, like most Morrish designs, you are going to encounter some devilish bunkers that are strategically placed and huge. However, they are now missing some sand which I seemed to take home with me in my pockets, shoes, hair, and other orifices from spending so much time trying to get out of these monsters!
The Golf Club At The Wharf is a par 71 - the front nine is par 35 - with five sets of tee boxes and yardages ranging from 4790 to 6812 yards. But beware, we were told by the head pro and the starter that we should add 400 to 500 yards to each tee box because the course plays much longer than the yardages on the scorecard.
The Golf Club At The Wharf is one of the courses that doesn't have any real unique or memorable holes but does have a couple that are really fun to play and will make you want to play another round to see if you can master them. For example:
- #2 a 443 yard par 4 with a sharp dog leg left along a tight fairway with water on the left and a tough approach to a raised green with significant slope back to the water
- on #7 (a 595 yard par 5 and the #1 handicap hole) I spent a lot of time in the bunkers (I felt like I was on the beaches of Gulf Shores but the ocean was missing as were the beach chairs and Pina Coladas) - the fairway twists and turns through a minefield of 7 bunkers offering several risk reward shots to try and carry the bunkers instead of following the fairways (I took the risk with no reward) to the green
- #16 is short (379 yards) but fun and offers an option on the second shot to follow the narrow fairway around the lake to the dog right green or try a risk reward shot to carry the lake and try for a birdie
- #18 is a 526 yard par 5 that will make you want to play The Golf Club At The Wharf again - water follows the fairway from the tee boxes to around in front of the green which requires a precise shot to fly the water and bulkhead and avoid the two bunkers on the backside
The bunkers are typical of a Jay Morrish design - steep and deep and all shapes and sizes - and most are huge and strategically placed. For example, on 14 there are three monsters that cross the fairway and are about where your tee shot wants to land or #1 which has a huge bunker in front of the green preventing a bump and run plus one on each side and one in back of the green. Practice your bunker shots before you head out. The good news is they are in great shape and have soft fluffy sand.
The greens on the front nine are about average size, mostly oval, slightly raised, and have some slope from back to front. On the back, they seemed to have a little more variety in size and shape and had more undulation. The Golf Club At The Wharf greens were in very good condition, ran true, held the ball well, and rolled about 9 or so. We had some trouble reading the subtle breaks.
The fairways are mostly tree lined with a few holes having some homes on one side. Some fairways are side by side. Most are flat with little to no contour but ample with a playable rough - miss them and you're in trouble. The back nines has some fairways with ripples and contour.
Bottom line - a good quality course where you can enjoy a fun and relaxing round and score well if you pick the right tee boxes and avoid most of the bunkers.
Course Slope & Ratings
- Course Architect:
- Jay and Carter Morrish
- Greens Type:
- Mini Verde
- Greens Condition
- Greens Difficulty
- Fairway Condition
- Bunker Condition
- Beware of water on 9 holes and the 40 sand traps.
Texas Outside Rating
- Overall Rating:
- 8.5 out of 10
- Fun to Play:
- Front Nine Rating:
- Back Nine Rating:
FEES & AMENITIES
Rates: $50.00 to $79.00
The plantation-style Clubhouse is home to a pro shop with the basics and a grill serving a variety of food. The practice facilities are very good and service is very friendly.
Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating
The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this: links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses!
All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course. In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40. We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking.