Following Bobby

Trip Start Mar 07, 1997
Trip End Dec 25, 1998

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Flag of United States  , Alabama
Friday, August 21, 1998

Go with me? We're hitting the magnificent trail known as The Robert Trent Jones, which Golf Digest calls "the best thing ever done for public golf." Stretching a hundred miles from one end of Alabama to the other, it is well worth the drive, say those who've played.

Build it and they will come, was David Bronner's vision in the late 1980's, in an effort to diversify the assets of Alabama's Retirement Systems and boost tourism in the state. The result was 324 holes of golf at seven spectacular sites, near Huntsville, Gadsden, Birmingham, Auburn, Greenville, Dothan, and Mobile.

Here's the scoop on the four nearest us. Huntsville's Hampton Cove has 54 holes and drastic changes of terrain; massive oaks, black pines, and dogwoods line the fairways. The Highland Course emulates a Scottish Links; the River Course doesn't have a single bunker!

Silver Lakes, at the edge of the Talladega National Forest near Gadsden, has pedestal greens perched 40 feet above the fairways; be challenged by Heartbreaker, Backbreaker, Mindbreaker, and water, water everywhere.

Oxmoor Valley in Birmingham was sculpted from the peaks and valleys of the Appalachians. The Ridge course has 150-foot elevation changes; watch out for the 18th hole on the Valley Course -- it's nicknamed The Assasin.

The Grand National near Auburn draped 32 of its 54 holes along the shores of Lake Saughahatche. I've been told the 230-yard island green on the 15th is the prettiest hole on the Trail. The three courses here have been listed among the nations 40 Super Value public courses.

Beginning golfers and longtime duffers will ove the Trail Academy, which offers private lessons, clinics, and a grin-and-bear-it video of your swing. See you there.

The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Alabama
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