Where did the largest golf course construction project ever attempted take place? Give up? The answer is Alabama.
Nearly 10 years ago, Retirement Systems of Alabama dreamed up a scheme to revitalize tourism by constructing a massive “trail” of championship golf courses throughout the state. The idea was to design the trail so courses would be no more than two hours apart — making it easy for golfers to pack and move from one to the other “collecting” courses.
What makes these courses even more distinctive is the designer — Robert Trent Jones. The noted golf architect designed all 432 holes of golf along the trail including the links at Cambrian Ridge (Greenville), Capitol Hill (Prattville), Grand National (Opelika), Hampton Cove (Huntsville), Highland Oaks (Dothan), Magnolia Grove (Mobile), Oxmoor Valley (Birmingham), Silver Lakes, (Anniston), Shoals (Florence) and Ross Bridge (Birmingham).
Magnolia Grove, the most accessible trail to travelers, is located just outside Mobile. It consists of two championship 18-hole courses, the Crossings and the Falls. Both have been named in Golf Digest’s “Places to Play” and both were listed in GOLF Magazine’s “America’s Top 50 Affordable Courses.” Magnolia Grove also has hosted the 1998 Nike Tour Championship, 1999-2001 AFLAC LPGA Tournament of Champions and the 2002-2005 Mobile LPGA Tournament of Champions.
The courses include creeks, marshlands and lakes all carved into the native pine and hardwood forest. The Crossings course — so named because of several railroad crossings that traverse its layout — consists of pulpit tee boxes and hillier terrain than the Falls course. The Falls, the top course at Magnolia, has large cloverleaf bunkers, elevated and undulating greens, and — in pure Trent Jones style — sloping contours into the woodlands and hazards that cause players think and re-think shots and distances.
Hole 1 (448 yards, par 4)
This starting hole features a dogleg to the left with a marshy area where you might decide to try to cut the corner. Aim for the magnolia tree right center off the fairway and sculpt your ball left to the hole. One large bunker guards the front of the green with a severe undulation on the back, making balls roll a little slower than expected. Elevated greens — a signature design element — make a missed shot a disaster.
Hole 3 (413 yards, par 4)
This dogleg right requires you to lay up to about 150 yards before the marsh area. Big hitters can try to cross, but the risk is not worth the reward. Depending on the tee box you play, this might be an option. Another marshy area protects the green and a bunker on the right will catch wayward shots. To the left are moguls that can, with some shots, redirect your ball to the green.
Hole 5 (582 yards, par 5)
Go for a big drive over the left hill and aim between the two fairway bunkers for a perfect setup for your second shot. Your next shot needs to land a comfortable distance from the pond in front of the green. The second shot plays less than indicated due to the slope toward the water. Shave 20 to 30 yards for a safe shot to the green, which is relatively flat with a hump left front.
Hole 8 (443 yards, par 4)
The beginning of the Falls’ “Amen Corner,” this hole runs adjacent to the course’s signature hole (No.10). The dogleg left requires a strong drive off the tee, but beware of the two fairway bunkers that line the right side of the fairway. Your second shot is to an elevated green that is fairly flat on top.
Hole 10 (570 yards, par 5)
The signature hole on the Falls course, Hole 10 requires you to drive over a marshy area to the first landing area of a split fairway. Big hitters need to control the ball left center as it is very easy to blow your ball past the fairway to the trees and rough on the right, leaving a difficult recovery. Your second shot requires you to position your ball in front of the stream fed by a man-made waterfall. Make sure you check placement for your third shot to this multi-tiered green.
Hole 11 (206 yards, par 3)
This is a difficult par 3 with multiple trouble spots. First, you need to carry the water to the pin, which juts out like a peninsula. A large bunker guards the front of the green. If you hit this bunker, it makes for a hairy recovery due to the water on the other side of the green.
Hole 13 (215 yards, par 3)
This hole plays much farther than it looks or reads in the yardage book. Prevailing winds also may come into play to keep your tee shot from reaching the green. The elevated green and the front bunker make for a challenging par 3 on this hole.
Hole 16 (437 yards, par 4)
Drive off the tee to the right side of the fairway for a clean shot of about 170 yards to the green. Marsh guards the front of the green-side fairway and runs all along the left side. If you position your drive left, you will need a near-perfect “miracle” shot over trees to clear the marsh and a newly constructed bulkhead left of the green.
7000 Lamplighter Drive
Mobile, AL 36575
tel 334 645 0075
Other courses in the mix of play around Mobile include two at the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, just across Mobile Bay, and the Earl Stone-designed Rock Creek and Timber Creek. If you’re staying in the area, check out the newly renovated Battle House, a Renaissance Hotel in Mobile. The Grand Hotel in Point Clear is another option. Coming off a massive post-Katrina renovation, the hotel sustained damage, but the golf courses were open within three days of the 2005 storm.
Best Western Hotels & Resorts opened its third Aiden by Best Western. The Aiden brand is designed to give travelers boutique, modern, stylish and locally inspired stay experiences. The new property is situated in Warm Springs, Georgia, adjacent to the Warm Springs Hotel and Event Center.
Looking for a truly unique travel experience and considering a new vehicle? The Volvo Overseas Delivery Program is the perfect solution to create your own adventure of a lifetime. Volvo allows you to custom order your new automobile tailored to fit your needs and desires. They will fly you to Sweden to pick up your Volvo so you can drive and explore Scandinavia and Europe on your terms for up to two weeks.
THE BEGINNING OF AUTUMN in America offers a time to savor the last precious moments of summer against the countryside’s mosaic of reds, yellows, oranges and purples. Before long, the chill of winter will enter the air and the trees will grow barren. This is not news to most of us. Indeed, leaf peeping has become ubiquitous. Most states have 24-hour toll-free hotlines to keep you informed of nature’s progress ... and then there’s the traffic. It seems the entire population of New York City and Boston climbs behind the wheels of cars on congested New England roadways. Thus we’ve tried to avoid the mainstream routes so you can truly appreciate the kaleidoscopic splendor. After all, a fall foliage road trip provides more than a mere drive. It also incorporates picking apples, tasting cider and hot doughnuts and leaving your vehicle behind to take a much-needed scenic walk to a lonely waterfall, where autumn’s colors reflect off the water.
My husband and I enjoyed an impromptu Saturday dinner at The Farm & Fisherman Tavern & Market. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, the restaurant specializes in seasonal farm-to-table dining. There is a second location in Horsham, Pennsylvania.
Since 1970, Goway Travel has been committed to providing customized travel experiences for world travelers. Few things are better evidence of this commitment than being awarded the 2019 Trazees award for Favorite Tour Operator. Goway Travel heartily thanks the readers of Trazee Travel for this honor and for their confidence in Goway’s work in creating travel memories that’ll last a lifetime.
Travelers arriving at Vilnius International Airport in Lithuania will find themselves walking along a trail of pink spots on the floor — dubbed “cold pink” by the country as it matches the distinct color of the country’s national šaltibarščiai soup. The trail ends at a 10-foot replica of the famed dish.
THERE’S NO DOUBT 2020 HAS BEEN AN UNPRECEDENTED year for the travel industry. As borders begin to reopen and destinations, hotels and airlines around the world prepare to welcome travelers once again, we’re celebrating travel and looking to the future as we congratulate the winners of our eighth annual Leisure Lifestyle Awards. This annual survey honors the best in the world of leisure and lifestyle travel, awarding goods, services, destinations, hotels, airlines and cruises.
United Airlines’ environmentally friendly efforts lessen the impact on local U.S. communities.