GULF SHORES, Ala. – The golf course at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores is closing for good on Dec. 2.
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.
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources officials announced the decision in the news release.
Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said in the news release 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 that recommended the golf course be repurposed into other outdoor recreation opportunities for patrons. 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, the release states.
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 for the news release. “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.”
He said several courses in the area have agreed to offer special rates for Gulf State Park’s campground and lodge guests from Dec. 3 through Feb. 28, 2019.
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. 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.”