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June 10, 2023

Mobile’s Linksman GC gets new life

By Tommy Hicks, Alabama Golf News Contributor
Linksman Golf Course sign vandalized in 2017

Jerry Pate is designing a new Linksman

Mobile’s Linksman Golf Course, closed since 2006, is on the road to reopening.

When he looks out from the overgrown and deserted parking lot onto the property that once was a popular golf course, Shane Allen sees what it used to be, and more importantly, what it will become.

Allen, recently named head pro at the course, will have a front row seat for the changes.

Tommy Hicks
Alabama Golf News contributor Tommy Hicks

Led by Commissioner Randall Dueitt, the Mobile County Commission recently bought the property from the Edwin Watts family and is directing the renovation of the course with the hope of staging a grand reopening in the fall 2024.

Allen, working at times from his car in the old parking lot, said he’s excited about the opportunity and to watch the new Linksman course unfold over the coming months.

“This is going to be a lot of fun to watching it from development stages to having construction equipment out here and watching this whole thing develop in front of us,” he said. “If just the amount of phone calls I have received from people excited about this is a good gauge, all of Mobile is excited that we’re going to have another golf course to play. During COVID, that kind of sparked the golf industry and more people are playing golf now, which is great. So we need another golf course. 

“This is going to be a player-friendly golf course. This is going to be one of the best golf courses in Mobile. The commissioner [Dueitt] wants this to be considered as the top golf course in Mobile and we’re going to do everything that we can to make that happen.”

New Linksman will have water on 14 holes

Jerry Pate’s design team created the new look for the course. Allen said there will be some differences, mainly on the back nine, and the course will now be a par 70 layout instead of the previous par 72. The biggest changes will include added lakes on the back nine and four Par 3 holes on the back nine.

“That’s for routing issues and water issues on the back side of the golf course,” Allen said of the added Par 3s. “There will be a few more lakes on the golf course that we are going to add to build up the fairways in the playable areas.”

Shane Allen
Shane Allen is the Linksman’s new head professional. (Photo: Tommy Hicks)

Those who were regular players at the Linksman when it was open previously recall that rain, which led to standing water at several places on the course, was a chronic problem. Allen said the new design addresses those concerns, 

“Obviously, water was always an issue on this golf course and the new design, we have taken all that into consideration and we’re going to make it where even if it rains — even in high tide at times in the past there were certain fairways that could be under water. So we’ve taken all that into consideration. We don’t want to lose many days just because the golf course is too wet. I think that’s going to be our No. 1 priority. And keeping it in good shape.”

Allen said the design by Pate’s team is one all golfers, regardless of skill level, will enjoy playing the new Linksman.

“They took the existing golf course here and tried to make better use of the land,” he said. “Us being able to move the driving range from where it used to be to over across the railroad tracks is going to help with that. They took the existing golf course and put together some really good routing and a really good concept for the golf course. It’s going to be really neat. … It’s going to definitely be a risk-reward golf course because there’s going to be water on 14 of the 18 holes.”

The golf course was set to reopen in 2017, but vandals seriously damaged the old clubhouse, which was later torn down. The old course played between 5,416 to 6,275 yards. 

New practice area for high school players

The previous practice range was small and unable to accommodate many players, Allen said. The new practice range will be much larger and will include a practice area designated strictly for high school players, including a separate chipping area and putting green.

“One of the big things the commissioner wanted was an area dedicated just to the high school kids in the area where they can practice,” Allen said. “They’ll have their own practice area on the driving range and you’ll still have the public practice area.”

There will also be tennis courts and pickleball courts constructed at the site, along with an area that allows for waterfront access for kayaks and canoes and the like.

Allen said bids will be opened May 31 for just the facilities aspect of the course — maintenance building, tennis courts, pickleball courts, parking lots — with the hope of accepting a bid and getting those projects started soon. Bids for the construction of the course are going out for a second round soon. The commission rejected the only bid of $12 million that was received previously.

“This will be a brand new golf course,” Allen said. “We’re basically building a brand new golf course right on top of the old one. … Ideally and not knowing who is going to get the bid and what all is involved with that, we would love to be open by next fall. We would love for that to happen. Can we make that happen? We won’t know until the bids actually go out and someone is awarded the bid. It may be later than that. It definitely won’t be sooner.

“Right now doing a lot of the behind the scenes work. Getting golf carts ready to be delivered, getting equipment ready to be delivered, looking for a superintendent. There is a lot of busy work to do right now and once construction starts we’ll hit the ground running and let’s get this thing started. I know everybody’s excited about it.”

Tommy Hicks is a frequent Albama Golf News contributor

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Featured image: The sign to the Linksman Golf Course shortly after it and the course’s clubhouse were vandalized in 2017.

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