Heading your RV along the Gulf Coast? Try these parks for camping and golf

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. - So you have the urge to pack your bags and your golf clubs and hit the open road with the open Gulf of Mexico out the window of your RV.

You may want to combine a little fishing, a little golf and a little camping, motor home style. There are golf courses stretched all along the Gulf Coast, many of them first-class, but do you really want to lumber into a ritzy country club course in your behemoth RV?

Well, there are some RV resorts that have golf courses right there on the grounds, and you'll never have to disconnect your 50 amp plug-in. There are others right down the road from your little space that offer some courses where salt spray wafts over the fairways. Here are a few good bets on your journey along the Gulf. We'll take you on a west-to-east course:

Gulf State Park; Gulf Shores, Ala.: This state park has a public 18-hole course that measures 6,563 yards with green fees of $24 to $27. It's open all year and has a golf shop, practice range, putting and chipping areas and practice bunker. You can also rent clubs here if you can't find space for yours in your RV.

The course is relatively long for RV courses and its main attractions are the resident deer who roam the fairways at will and a 15-percent senior discount.

The park itself sits on 360 acres and has 200 sites with electrical hookups, costing $17-$30 a night. It has restrooms, showers, a laundromat and a store. It also has tennis facilities, a game room and a boat ramp. The park teems with wildlife.

Casino Magic and Golf Resort; Bay St. Louis, Miss.: This RV park is a treat, sitting in the parking lot of the Casino Magic casino, in the western reaches of the Mississippi Golf Trail. It features one of the best courses you will find accessible from an RV park, the Arnold Palmer-designed Bridges.

The Bridges is an accurate name for the course. There are 21 of them and all told they span nearly a mile, taking you from high point to high point - golf holes, technically - that slither through the marshes and wetlands flowing from and into Mississippi's Jourdan River.

As you might expect, a great deal of your golf energy will be directed at avoiding these large and small bodies of water, hitting specific shots to specific areas.

"We always tell people it's target golf," Director of Golf Chris Altese said. "The course isn't exceptionally long, but the intent was you'd hit every shot in golf."

Paul's RV Park and Rio RV Park; Brownsville, Texas: These two RV parks are owned by the Zieger family and are both near Brownsville and near three courses they have affiliations with: the Brownsville Golf and Recreation Center, Fort Brown Municipal Course and El Saucito Golf Course.

"El Saucito is actually in Mexico and a lot of people enjoy going over there," Alma Zieger said.

RVers get discounts at the three courses and the resort organizes group outings and arranges transportation. The RV park itself is about 18 miles from the Gulf.

"We're within range to get breezes off the Gulf, so it's cooler year-round," Zieger said.

El Saucito is a 19-holer (only in Mexico) and the other two are 18-holers. Brownsville Golf and Recreation Center has green fees of $21 to $25 while the municipal course charges $15-$18, including cart. El Saucito is a semi-private course with green fees of $28 with cart, and the course has club rentals, an outside pavilion and a putting area.

Paul's RV Park has 135 sites with 20 pull-throughs and costs $29 a night or $165 a week. It has high-speed wireless Internet access, free cable TV with 70 channels, a pool and spa, laundry, on-site propane service and rental cars.

Rio RV Park has 170 sites and also has Internet hook-ups and most of the same amenities.

Austin Bayou Golf Course and RV Park; Danbury, Texas: Danbury is in Brazoria County on the prairie of the Gulf Coast at the mouth of the Brazos River, roughly 20 miles from the Gulf.

The park has a 3,166-yard nine-hole course with three sets of tees. The owners originally built a four-hole course exclusively for RVers, then decided to add five more holes and open it to the public.

The course has a lot of water hazards, being next to a bayou. It's also very open, built over former rice fields and being adjacent to a dust-cropping airfield.

"That's one of the hazards," the resort's David Skeen said. "At No. 6, we don't cross the fence for any reason - it's next to the runway."

There are no sand traps on the course and the trees that were planted are young, so swing away.

Green fees are $12 weekdays and $17 Friday through Sunday. RVers at the park get a 20 percent discount on the green fees and the park also offers a $100 monthly membership to renters.

Austin Bayou has 23 "extra-wide" sites with some on the water next to the course and charges $15 a night, $87.50 as week and $300 a month. There's a bath house with laundry facilities.

The Links at Green Caye & RV Park; Dickinson Texas: Located near Galveston, The Links has a nine-hole, par-3 course free to renters that features holes from 113 to 216 yards and has a lot of water hazards, especially No. 2, which is surrounded by water.

"I always slice to the right so I'm safe because most of the water is on the left," said an employee named Teddy, who declined to give his last name.

The Links is a short drive from the Gulf and has 180 sites starting from $20 a night to $340 a month. It also has a catfish pond, game room, shuffleboard, air hockey, football and card tables. There are Internet hookups, as well as laundry facilities and a convenience store.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment