When it comes to Alabama's Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, usually there's only one goal in mind: to play as much of its high-quality, low-priced golf as humanly possible.
But what if you're looking for a place to slow down and relax after a hard-charging road trip? Or, you simply want a different type of Trail experience, one that's better suited to couples and families?
Well, if ever there was a Trail stop that could stand on its own as a resort destination where golf wasn't the only, or even primary, attraction, this is it.
Point Clear, the southernmost stop on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, is an anomaly.
Instead of the Trail's usual orgy of democratic golf and on-the-go mentality at various stops , Point Clear is a true resort that exudes a more relaxed, "stay awhile" vibe.
Here, golf is played at the private Lakewood Golf Club's two courses, one of which can be accessed daily, provided you're an overnight guest of the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa.
In fact, the recently updated Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, near the charming town of Fairhope, is one of the reasons Point Clear is the most family- and couple-friendly stop on the Trail (holiday weekends or summertime is when its kids' programs are in full swing).
The Grand's beach and spa, along with its 36 holes of golf and complimentary access to a new tennis and pool complex, plus the charms of the small city of Fairhope, make the hotel ideal for a slow-paced getaway weekend.
Is the golf here as good as the other stops on the Trail? No. But the facilities at the Grand and the enjoyable spirit of Fairhope, however, more than make up for it.
If you like mixing in some antiquing, gallery browsing, and enjoyable lunching with your golf vacations, you'll like this quaint little town (rated by Money magazine as one of the top-15 places in the U.S. to retire).
When to go? Spring and fall are the most comfortable seasons for visitors. Fall generally offers nicer weather and warmer water in Mobile Bay, although hurricanes pose a very real threat. And if you're worried about last year's oil spill, don't. Throughout the entire ordeal, only minor amounts of oil ever made it to Mobile Bay, and even then it was right at the mouth of the Bay and nowhere near Point Clear.
Have you been to Point Clear or other stops on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail? What did you think? Please share your comments below.