The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail isn't just for road-trippin' and beer sippin' anymore.
Sure, you can still have that kind of experience if you want it, but the RTJ Trail is smartly branching out to offer more of a resort golf experience, too.
Here's where you can find it:
The changes are probably best evident at the Trail's two coastal area stops.
Last year, for instance, I wrote:
"Point Clear, the southernmost stop on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, is an anomaly. Instead of the Trail's usual binge of democratic golf and on-the-go mentality at various stops, Point Clear is a true resort that exudes a more relaxed, 'stay awhile' vibe."
And now, you can get a similar experience about 40 minutes away at the Magnolia Grove stop in Mobile.
In addition to renovations making the two, 18-hole courses here much more player friendly, the Magnolia Grove site now has two "official" sophisticated, full-service hotels that also anchor downtown Mobile's dining and entertainment district.
One is the Battle House Renaissance Hotel; the other is the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel. Both are owned by the RTJ Golf Trail's parent, Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA).
In the case of the Battle House, the RSA revived a long-shuttered historic grand dame through a marvelous restoration and expansion.
The notoriously hard-to-please editors of Golf Odyssey recently said that:
"the Battle House oozes character," and, overall, "the combination of enjoyable, inexpensive golf and a neat historic hotel makes Magnolia Grove and Mobile an intriguing trail stop."
I hope this "resort-ification" trend spreads northward to other stops, but not to the point of destroying what put the Trail on the map in the first place.
After all, if you just stay in one place, you're not really on a trail.
What's your take on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and what seems to be its desire to make itself more resort-y?
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