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Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Alabama
A wealth of public golf courses in unique private settings.
October 24, 2002: 12:08 PM EDT
By Nick Pachetti, Money Magazine Staff Writer

Cambrain Ridge  
Cambrian Ridge

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Money Magazine) - A decade ago, Alabama's state pension fund made an unusual investment, pouring over $100 million into what was to become the largest golf construction project in history. The result? The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, an immense network of 378 holes on eight sites throughout the state, all designed by renowned course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr., who died two years ago at 93.

Unlike many a public course, these are stunningly beautiful and well maintained. Designed to take advantage of Alabama's diverse topography -- from the Appalachian Mountains in the north to the lowlands in the south -- each course is challenging and unique. Fairways and greens are meticulously groomed. Charming red-brick clubhouses with white columns and rocking chairs offer stunning views. And there are no waits.

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For courses of this quality, the golf is strikingly inexpensive. During the winter (when temperatures are in the 50s in the northern part of the state and warmer further south), greens fees run from $35 to $45 for 18 holes. Carts add another $15. If you plan to play at least four different courses, a Winter Sampler package includes 162 holes for $99 a person through Feb. 13 (800-949-4444). You'll feel far from the bustle of civilization when playing, but each site is close to a major airport, including those serving Montgomery, Mobile and Atlanta, and interstate highways. Once you're on the "trail," it takes about 1 hours to drive to the next site.

There are dozens of hotels and inns close to the sites but we especially recommend the Legends in Prattville (888-250-3767), just north of Montgomery and situated on the 17th fairway of the Senator course at Capitol Hill. The hotel serves as an excellent base because it's within an hour of the Cambrian Ridge course in Greenville, the Grand National in Auburn and the Oxmoor Valley in Birmingham. A double room runs $120.  Top of page

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