Gulf Shores Golf Club Review

Texas Outside Rating: 8.5

Golf - Public Course · 18 Holes · Par 71
Gulf Shores, AL

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Gulf Shores Golf Club Review

Reveiw and Rating of the Golf Shores Golf Club in Gulf Shores Alabama

Formally known as the Golf Club At The Wharf, this course  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 who were also the original course architects.  The renovation lengthened the par 71 course by 300 yards and added numerous water features,  enhanced the fairways, created new bunkers, and added some new card paths. 

The Gulf Shores Golf Club is a classic 1960'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 larger than normal.  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 Gulf Shores Golf Club 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 because the course plays much longer than the yardages on the scorecard and you don't get much roll. 

The Gulf Shores Golf Club 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 Gulf Shores Golf Club 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.  And #7 has a minefield of 7 bunkers, one of which is in the middle of the fairway about 90 yards out.  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 (28 to 32 yards deep) 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.  Gulf Shores Golf Club 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.

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 6,812 72.6 123
Blue 5,950 68.1 116
White 5,362 68.8 113
Gold 6,365 70.5 120
Red 4,790 67.3 111

Course Information

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:


Approximate Weekend
$49.00 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! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

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.