The new hotel/meeting complex at Gulf State Park.
State parks system officials said the decision was made because of a saturation of courses in the region and the opportunity to use the property to provide new nature-based recreational opportunities within the park in Gulf Shores, Ala. The park recently opened a new 350-room hotel and 40,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. Arrangements have been made with other area golf courses to provide special rates for the park’s campground and lodge guests through February 2019.
The golf course at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Ala. is closing for good on December 2nd, Fox 10 News of Mobile, Ala., reported.
According to a news release from the Alabama State Parks System, the move is due to a saturation of golf courses in the region and the opportunity to provide new nature-based recreational opportunities at Gulf State Park, Fox 10 reported.
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources officials announced the decision in the news release, in which Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said that 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 follows the development of a master plan for the park (www.mygulfstatepark.com) that recommended the golf course be repurposed into other outdoor recreation opportunities for patrons, Fox 10 reported. Officials overseeing the park 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, according to the Parks System’s release.
The master plan suggests a range of uses for the land, including an “Adventure Launch.”
“The vision is to allow part of the existing golf course to return to a more natural state,” it says. “This new conservation land will include additional tree plantings, and less frequent mowing will allow the landscape to become a grassy meadow, home to animals like the gopher tortoise.
“Existing golf cart paths will become hiking trails through the evolving landscape, featuring opportunities for birding outlooks and other scenic ‘pause places,’” the plan continues. “Other portions of the golf course will be repurposed to provide a range of rustic overnight accommodations, along with outdoor adventure activities.”
In the news release announcing the course closing, State Parks Director Greg Lein noted that “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. 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.”
Several other golf courses in the area, including Craft Farms Golf Resort, Peninsula Golf Club and Rock Creek Golf Club, have agreed to offer special rates for Gulf State Park’s campground and lodge guests from December 3 through February 28, 2019, Lein added.
Gulf State Park now features a new, 350-room hotel that includes five restaurants, several pools, outdoor terraces and 40,000 square feet of meeting space, Fox 10 reported. 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.”
To view Fox 10’s report on the closing of the course, go to https://www.fox10tv.com/news/gulf-state-park-golf-course-closing-for-good/article_0119ebf4-e909-11e8-a3c0-cb14cd1acefb.html