Lakewood Club Golf Complex The Lakewood Club is a 36-hole golf complex affiliated with the Grand Hotel Golf Resort and Spa just south of Fairhope, Baldwin County, and was the ninth site to open on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail (The Trail). The Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) purchased the existing Grand Hotel, its first lodging on The Trail, and adjacent golf courses in 1999. RSA later renovated the hotel and the golf courses and began developing other areas for residential use in the 834-acre mixed-use resort.
The original Grand Hotel was built in 1847 on the site of an earlier lodging house as a two-story building with 40 rooms. Over the following 100 years, the hotel had multiple owners, was damaged by storms and fire, and rebuilt twice. It also was used as a training center for the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II. The first 18 golf holes opened in 1947 when the Lakewood Club was founded, with nine more added in 1967, and a final nine added in 1983. The existing golf clubhouse at Lakewood was finished in 1948 with timbers from an old railroad pier on the Mobile River. Between 1992 and 1995, RSA had worked unsuccessfully to secure a site in the popular Orange Beach and Gulf Shores area to give The Trail representation in Baldwin County. In September 1999, however, RSA was able to purchase the Grand Hotel and the Lakewood Club. The hotel is now more formally known as the “Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa” and is a part of the Marriott Corporation’s “Autograph Collection” of high-end boutique properties.
Dogwood Course The two 18-hole golf courses, known as Dogwood and Azalea, include 15 water features and many 200-year-old live oaks draped with Spanish moss. RSA renovated the two courses, one in 2004 and one in 2017, and added lakes, improved drainage, repaired bridges, and updated greens. The clubhouse at Lakewood offers 14,000 square feet of space that includes indoor dining, a card room, meeting space, dressing rooms, and a golf shop. There is a practice facility, two putting greens, a maintenance shed, and a cart shed located on the property. Lakewood has twice hosted the prestigious USGA Senior Women’s Amateur Championship.
The Grand Hotel complex consists of 405 guest rooms in five buildings, a conference center, spa, and five restaurants. In 2000, RSA added the spa, 126 rooms, indoor pool, fitness center, and a beach and pool complex, restored the hotel after damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and did a complete renovation in 2018. The Lakewood Club features an aquatics, tennis, and fitness center built by RSA in 2008 and two restaurants. In addition, RSA began financing The Colony at The Grand in 2004. This residential area features condominiums and residential lots and has led many retirees who had vacationed at the resort to move there. Spending by Grand Hotel employees and visitors, members of The Lakewood Club, and nearby residents increase tax revenue supporting the quality of life for Baldwin County’s Eastern Shore.
Fagan, Mark. The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail: Its History and Economic Impact. Montgomery, Ala.: NewSouth Books, 2016.
———. Alabama’s Public Pension Fund Growth and Economic Expansion since 1973. Pennsauken, N.J.: BookBaby, 2019.