50 Words or Less
Kiva Dunes Golf Course is a challenging test of golf that has just the right amount of forgiveness and variety to make it fun for any level of golfer. Its remote setting allows for undisturbed views of the natural gulf coast.
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When you make the trek out to Kiva Dunes, you quickly realize that it sits on some of the most remote and untouched land on the Alabama Gulf Coast. There are very few residential areas and even fewer stores and strip malls. It is a stunning area and a bit surprising considering how much of the gulf coast is developed with resorts, condos, and beach front properties. Many would agree that this is exactly what makes Kiva Dunes so special.
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The Kiva Dunes practice facilities have everything needed to get you prepared for your round. Or, if you happen to be staying at the Kiva Dunes resort for multiple nights, it is a great place to practice in between your golf days.
The driving range is wide with multiple pins for target practice. Several are guarded with bunkers to simulate on course shots. Adjacent to the range is a small chipping green with multiple pins and a bunker for sand shots. Finally, just next to the first tees is a 50 yard long practice putting green that has lots of undulations to prep the flatstick for any putt you could see during your round.
Customer Service & Amenities
Kiva Dunes Golf Course is not just a golf course. It is a full resort, complete with private beach, pool access, and amenities the entire family can enjoy. The resort boasts large, two story condos with up to four spacious bedrooms, suited for buddies trips, families, or a combination of both.
While Kiva is in a remote section of the Alabama Gulf Coast, everything you need is right on property. The resort has a full service restaurant on the first floor of the main resort as well as access to the incredible Kiva Beach Club for anyone staying on property. This club includes a zero entry pool, hot tub, and the Kiva Dunes Beach Club Restaurant which serves up some five star meals. I highly recommend the pecan cheesecake. Enough about cheesecake though, let’s get to the golf.
Beauty & Scenery
When you step on the first tee at Kiva, you immediately notice both the natural sand terrain and water channels that meander throughout the course. While the water only comes into play on about half the holes, it adds quite an impressive aesthetic to the Kiva Dunes golf course. The second thing you see is the mostly undeveloped surrounding area that creates a stunning natural backdrop.
Of course, this natural backdrop doesn’t come without hazards of their own as Kiva Dunes is home to quite a few alligators that sunbathe on the banks of the fairways. The remote setting of Kiva Dunes allows quite a bit of wildlife to roam the property so don’t be surprised when your ball comes to rest near an alligator.
When Jerry Pate designed Kiva Dunes, I imagine he wanted to create a unique challenge for every different skill level. He used the tee boxes to accomplish this by not only adding distance but more challenging angles to the fairway the further back you go.
No matter what tees you play at Kiva Dunes, the fairways are wide and playable. Many even have bail outs on one side or the other. There are a handful of forced carries off the tee with most of them coming on the par threes.
Approach shots at Kiva Dunes allow golfers to be more creative. Kiva Dunes has a lot of run up areas with the exception of hole nine and the par threes. Some are more accessible than others, but they are designed for a variety of players. If you prefer to play the ball along the ground, you can certainly do that. With the amount of wind that this course gets, keeping the ball low may be the way to low scores.
The fairways themselves are mostly flat and sand based, so when it dries out, the ball can jump on approach shots. Even though the majority of the course is cut to fairway length, there is rough around certain holes but it is not all that punishing. The most intimidating approach shots were ones that involved water like number two, nine, or seventeen. Thankfully, there are also more forgiving approach shots with plenty of chances to hunt pins and setup birdie opportunities.
Greens & Surrounds
The greens here are anything but straightforward. They are moderately quick in speed and often feature massive undulations that make two putting difficult. The greens are large and surrounded by tightly mown areas. I found these tightly mown areas were tough to chip from but easy enough to putt any ball that didn’t hit the green.
There are strategically placed bunkers around most greens that I found myself in a few times during the round. I loved the bunkers here. The sand was ultra soft, and no matter how hard I swung, the ball came out high and landed close to the pin. Overall, there are a lot of places to miss around the greens as long as you avoid the water.
Kiva Dunes is a step up from your typical resort course. There is a ton of variety and challenge without being so tough that it loses the fun factor. Most of the holes are right in front of you, meaning you don’t need to spend hours looking at your GPS or yardage guide before deciding which club to hit. This is a fun golf course meant to challenge you based on the tee you select.
#9 – Par 4 – 412 yards
This hole is the exception to what I described previously, but that is why it made my favorite holes. Off the tee, you have a decision to make on how close you want to get to the water. The closer you get, the shorter the approach. The second shot is long and over water at an angle. It is intimidating, especially with a mid-long iron in your hand, as you can see below.
#8 – Par 3 – 148 yards
Featuring one of the few forced carries over a massive waste sand area, the par 3 8th hole is downhill and plays a few yards shorter than the scorecard says. The waste area gets in your head as all you can see from the tee box is that sugar white sand. Avoid the sand and this semi-flat green is prime for birdies.
#4 – Par 4 – 280 yards
A drivable par four will always make my list of favorite holes. It isn’t overly difficult from the tee, but the green is very narrow and sits propped up between two sand traps. If you can manage a baby draw with your driver, this is your hole to score on. Either way, we had a blast trying to swing big to land it close and have an early chance at an eagle putt.
Kiva Dunes Golf Course has everything you could want in a coastal golf experience. A challenging but fair test of golf with enough variety to make you want to play it over and over again. The natural beauty of the water channels that integrate seamlessly into the course not only provide impressive visuals but challenge golfers of every level. The only golf resort directly on the gulf coast, Kiva Dunes provides the highest level golf experience for buddies trips and families alike.