THOMPSON TEES OFF: Experiencing a golfing getaway - Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

THOMPSON TEES OFF: Experiencing a golfing getaway

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LOXLEY, AL -

I recently had occasion to visit the Stewart Lodges at Steelwood in Loxley. 

It had been a number of years since I had visited Steelwood to play this fine Jerry Pate-designed layout, so a return was long overdue and I was not disappointed.

While very much enjoying the golf course, the main purpose of my visit was to stay at the Stewart Lodges, as well as take in some other attractions on the Eastern Shore including Mobile, Fairhope and Daphne.

Steelwood is located off the beaten path, which is definitely a large part of its charm, in Loxley, about 20 minutes from Mobile. Indeed you would never know this oasis existed in the back woods off of Highway 59 as you pass by the turn on your way to and from Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

The Stewart Lodges are the brainchild of New Orleans businessman Frank Stewart and are beautifully appointed. Two lodges are located either side of a magnificent pool area and look out over the 16th hole at Steelwood and beyond to Steelwood Lake.

They struck me as ideal for exclusive corporate retreats or family reunions. 

Some amenities include:

• Two fully furnished lodges with 20 private rooms and baths (16 king and 4 double/double) with expansive porches featuring lake or golf course views.

•TVs, wireless internet, and entertaining/meeting facilities.

•  Recreation rooms in each lodge include:
                                -Billiards
                                -Surround sound stereo system
                                -DVD and large screen movie theatre
                                -Dart board
                                -Card tables
                                -Walk-in bar

• Fully-furnished kitchen with all appliances (ice maker, dishwasher, coffee makers, etc.

• Beautiful fireplace.

• Catering and Personal Chef services available.

 

All overlooking a 200-acre stocked, freshwater lake, which is nestled in a 1500-acre gated country club community.

Connecting the two lodges, you will find a beautiful pool, cabana and entertainment space. This area is perfect for entertaining. Private and only for the use of Stewart Lodges guests, the pool is equipped with a kitchen (refrigerator, stove, microwave, dishwasher, ice machine and sink), restrooms, pool towels, TV and stereo.

In-house catering is available, and it was my joy to taste chef Danny Spybey's creations. If his name sounds familiar, his older brother Dick Spybey was the long-time men's golf coach at Alabama, and Danny played golf for the Crimson Tide and is still a very fine player.

Guests also have access to the country club's facilities for dining and entertainment. Indeed, this access is a great benefit to guests of the Stewart Lodges. Such access to the otherwise exclusively private amenities for your recreational enjoyment at Steelwood includes the driving range, sporting clays, fishing, fitness center, tennis courts and, of course, the highly ranked and rated golf course that opened in 1997.

The course has been highly ranked both in state and across the southeast and it's easy to see why. Pate took full use of lake views on holes 2 and 15-18 and of the densely wooded terrain to carve out a strong, but fair, test of golf. The finishing stretch is my favorite and Nos. 15 and 17 play directly towards the water and the closing hole, a risk-reward par five for longer hitters, hugs the water on its left side the entire way.

An AJGA (American Junior Golf Association) three-day top junior tournament visits every summer and the winners roll includes many stars of today on the PGA and LPGA Tours.

Golf is one great amenity, but fishing is its equal. I must quantify this by saying I know next to nothing about fishing, but had the chance to while away a couple of hours with Spybey on the freshwater lake and witnessed him catching a bass weighing over 10 lbs. It was a rush to see him land the fish and we took a photo before he released it to prove our words that it was "this big!" with our arms outstretched.

The club-provided boats are electric powered (no private boats are allowed) and were ready when we arrived, stocked with tackle, hand towels and our favorite beverages. 

Hunting is also available at certain times of the year and they have plenty of property on which to do so, as well as nature trails to enjoy and explore. 

As some of their collateral materials state, "The best amenity perhaps is that our clients find that the slower pace and serenity of The Stewart Lodges at Steelwood engenders such simple and meaningful pleasures as lounging on the porch rocker all day with a good book, gathering around an evening bonfire with colleagues, and friends, stargazing late into the night, or waking up early to watch the mist rise over the lake.

"Its natural beauty and the solitude you find here create for us an obligation; an obligation to craft a special place that can be shared by others while maintaining and nurturing the grandeur of this remarkable site. A place to reconnect friends, business associates, families, and extended families with one another and with nature in a quiet, contemplative way. The Stewart Lodges at Steelwood is a community in which the pace is slower and daily life is simpler; yet retaining a certain sophistication here that is neither self-conscious nor overwrought."

On my visit, I also took the chance to play 18 of the 27 holes at nearby TimberCreek in Daphne. It had been a number of years since I had visited this Earl Stone semi-private facility and I enjoyed the morning in the company of Jennie Campbell, CEO and President of Stewart Steelwood Investments, and Rob Bradley, PGA golf professional and owner of TimberCreek.

Bradley has to be one of the most upbeat people I have ever met and his enthusiasm was contagious. He said his dream as a club professional growing up on the East Coast was to own his own golf facility and that came to fruition a few years ago. He has implemented and will continue to do so a number of projects to continue to upgrade all three nines (Magnolia, Dogwood and Pines) at this venue that has hosted the Alabama Open multiple times and was bustling with golfers the day we visited.

Campbell, fairly new to the game, displayed a real sticktoitiveness and kept plugging away. Obviously an astute businesswoman, she is most passionate about Stewart Lodges and forging partnerships with surrounding businesses to continue to grow its reach.

For more information, including rates and availability, visit www.StewartSteelwood.com or call toll free 866 580-4343. 

For TimberCreek, visit www.golftimbercreek.com or call toll free 877 621-9900.

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