Sunbelt Golf adding Capitol Hill courses to Ala. Trail

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PRATVILLE, Ala. -- Sunbelt Golf Corp. is expanding the comprehensive Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama with an eighth facility. Named Capitol Hill, the 54-hole Pratville golf facility is being developed six miles north of Montgomery and one mile from Interstate 65. The project features three championship courses spread over 1,500 acres: the Senator, which opened in April; the Legislator, scheduled to be unveiled by the end of the summer, and the Judge, expected to debut in October.

The first hole on Capitol Hill's Judge Course. Sunbelt is pouring about $24 million into the project. According to David Taylor, director of marketing for the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Capitol Hill will enhance the diversity of the entire trail and provide a centrally located golf facility on the route.öCapitol Hill will have three courses on very different types of land.ö

ôFrom one course to the next, it is three completely different styles. ItÆs not a cookie-cutter concept,ö Taylor said, adding that diversity in layout is the philosophy of the entire golf trail. As the largest golf course construction project in the world, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail features 324 holes spanning 18 courses throughout the state. A variety of course layouts are represented on the trail, including those characterized by mountains, lakes, marshes and sand. Capitol Hill will further augment the offerings with a new type of layout.

ôThe Senator Course is the only one of its kind in this part of the country because of its Scottish links layout,ö Taylor said. The course, which spans the top of a ridge, reflects the Scottish-style layout with no trees and more than 200 pothole bunkers. The course features more than five different types of grass on the 40-foot mounds of soil that border each hole.

The other two courses also will carry distinguishing traits on the trail. The Legislator will run alongside a ridge and Cooters Pond. The course will feature elevation drops of more than 200 feet, similar to famous courses in North Carolina, and dense vegetation, including pine trees and Spanish moss. The Judge Course, built around the backwash of the Alabama River, will feature an open layout, with island greens, island tees and most holes bordering the water.

Capitol Hill sits in the middle of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, and 11 other courses on the route are within an hour-and-a-half drive. With the three new courses, Taylor said, the trail will boast the most diverse collection of courses in the world. Before Capitol Hill, the main layout the trail was lacking was a Scottish-style course. ôWe now have every type of course a golfer could imagine playing, except a layout that runs along the ocean,ö he said.

The public golf trail, which runs through the entire state, from Huntsville to Mobile, was designed to use golf as a major tourist attraction and as a tool for economic development. The trail aims to provide golfers with high-caliber, reasonably priced courses, each of which is accessible from major interstates and highways and within a two-hour drive of the next course. All of the links were designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., with each course taking in the natural topography. The courses are intended to cater to golfers of all abilities, with an average of 10 to 12 tee boxes on every hole.

ôThe courses range from 4,900 yards from the front tees and 7,500 yards from the back tees, which allows both beginners and the best players in the world to have a good time,ö Taylor said. Since the trailÆs completion four years ago, golfers from every U.S. state and 30 countries around the world have played the courses. The trail has been the venue for a number of important golf championships and currently hosts two nationally televised events: the Nike Tour Championship in Dothan and the LPGA Aflac in Mobile, both of which take place in October.

Greens fees range from $29 to $49.

Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

Phone: (800) 848-4444

Web: HYPERLINK http://golf.jsu.edu

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