This region of Alabama features 3 sites on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, plus other great local and resort golf courses. Also known as the Alabama Mountain Lakes region, the golf courses in the northern part of the state are as scenic as they are challenging.
The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail sites in the region are truly unique. In the northwest corner, the cities of Muscle Shoals, Florence, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia form the area collectively known as “the Shoals.” The Shoals is best known as the “Hit Recording Capital of the World” since so many of the top songs of the 1960s and 1970s were recorded here. The RTJ Golf Trail at the Shoals features two championship courses. The Fighting Joe was the first Trail course to reach over 8,000 yards and lands fourth on GOLF Magazine’s list of “best courses you can play” in Alabama. The more traditional layout on Schoolmaster requires strategy and precision.
Situated along the banks of the Tennessee River, many of the holes, plus the clubhouse, offer spectacular panoramic views. A more picturesque site would be hard to find. Additionally, one of the eight hotels in the RTJ Golf Trail Resort Collection is located across the river in Florence. The Shoals is typical of the RTJ Golf Trail – great value, pristine and consistent conditioning, challenging golf, and great customer service.
Also in the Shoals area, Cypress Lakes in Muscle Shoals is another fun test of golf. The facility features a beautiful championship course with new Mini Verde greens. And just down the road is one of the four Alabama State Park golf courses at Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville. It offers an 18-hole course, designed by Alabama’s own Earl Stone. One of Stone’s early efforts, it’s a fun open course that’s also got some bite from the tips. On the shores of Wheeler Lake, the state park resort features a waterfront lodge with restaurant and convention facilities, full-service marina with permanent and overnight docking slips, camping, and lakeside cottages.
Farther east in Decatur, Point Mallard Park is a complete family recreational facility, offering great outdoor activities. The 750-acre park lies hidden among North Alabama’s densely wooded pines and has camping, hiking trails, biking trails and an 18-hole championship golf course. The Aquatic Center features a wave pool, Olympic-size diving pool, water slides and kiddie pools. The park also features a year-round ice skating complex. The Point Mallard Golf Course is almost 7,000 yards long from the tips and offers exceptional conditioning and a fair test of golf. Most notably, it’s been called the “best value in North Alabama” by a Yelp reviewer.
Hampton Cove in Huntsville is the other RTJ Golf Trail site in the most northern part of the state. Two totally different experiences await at Hampton Cove with the Highlands and the River courses. The Highlands is a Scottish-links style course where Japanese black pines, massive oaks, dogwoods and crepe myrtle abound. It’s very picturesque, even featuring an old mule barn adjacent to the 5th hole that has become quite a conversation piece over the years. And the River Course has the distinction of being the only Robert Trent Jones design without a single bunker. The course was laid out on a former soybean plantation at the edge of the Flint River flood plain. Great care was used to incorporate the wonders of Mother Nature into the scheme of things, showcased by the enormous old oak tree behind the 18th green… reputedly over 275 years old!
Northeast of Huntsville is one of the more popular settings for golf at Goose Pond Colony in Scottsboro. Located on the banks of Lake Guntersville, this laid-back resort features two 18-hole championship golf courses, cozy lakeside cottages, a lodge, restaurant, campground, and full-service marina. The two courses available are the Lake and the Plantation. The Lake is a George Cobb design that sports views of the water from every hole. The Plantation course is known for pristine greens, open fairways, and numerous hazards.
Guntersville, just a bit south of Scottsboro, and the locale of several championship golf courses, is situated perfectly to be a home base for a golf vacation to the northeast corner of Alabama. Eighteen masterfully crafted holes covering just under 6,900 yards and offering awe-inspiring beauty, with a choice of difficulty ranging from moderate to pretty darn tough, are what you’ll find at Gunter’s Landing. Eagle’s Nest Golf Club overlooks beautiful Lake Guntersville and is located at the state park. It’s fairly traditional in design with water coming into play often and bunkers strategically located to snare that errant shot. The final Guntersville area course of note is the former private country club, Cherokee Ridge in Union Grove. The scenic course is nestled in the rolling Appalachian foothills. It is a tree-lined layout with narrow Bermuda fairways and large undulating Bentgrass greens. The Lake House at Cherokee Ridge is the perfect spot for golf groups. Situated high on a knoll overlooking both the golf course and a sparkling 17-acre lake, it has seven large guests rooms and baths on two separate levels.
The region is also home to the Jerry Pate-designed Limestone Springs, located in the small town of Oneonta, just 45 minutes north of Birmingham. The course plays out along rolling hills and peaceful valleys and features breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain ridge.
The northernmost destinations of Alabama have much to boast about in the way of golf. Scenic beauty paired with the topographical challenges play a distinct role in the golf experiences in the region. Golf travelers will find just the right course for their skill level, budget and playing style in the beautiful Alabama mountains.