Thursday, July 7, 2011

Down on the Farm

Welcome to FarmLinks, a PGA Tour-quality
golf course in the middle of Alabama farmland.
I'm working on a story for Houston Links and DFW Links on the trip I took last week to the Birmingham area of Alabama. In addition to two Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail facilities, I also traveled about 45 minutes south of B-Ham to a place called FarmLinks.

This place is unbelievable.

The course is in PGA Tour-like condition, and sits in the middle of a 3,500-acre farm. The club is a living laboratory for the latest and greatest innovations in golf course maintenance equipment, chemical treatments, golf cart technology and so much more. Every year, more than 1,000 golf course superintendents from places like Pebble Beach, Augusta National and Pine Valley come to FarmLinks to learn ways to improve their courses.

The golf course, a Hurdzan-Fry design, is tremendous. Plenty of elevation changes and not a ho-hum hole in the loop. They have 11 different types of grass on the course. You'll play out of a Bermuda fairway one minute and Zoysia on the next hole. One of the par 3s features the newest, salt-water resistant strain of Paspalum that you see on many oceanside courses like Muana Kea Country Club in Hawaii and Moody Gardens Golf Course in Galveston.

The story about the family who owns it and all they do there might be even better than the golf. You'll have to pick up a copy of Houston Links or DFW Links to learn more about that.

The accommodations are first-class (cabins and cottages stocked with flat-screens and an immaculate bentgrass putting/chipping green three steps off the back porches), and in addition to golf there is hunting, fishing, trap shooting and hiking.

Perhaps better than all of that is the hospitality. It’s almost cliché to write, “They treat you like family and Golf Course X.” But the folks at FarmLinks fall over themselves to make sure you feel welcome. You pay a flat-rate to play unlimited golf for the day. (Unlimited golf: hello, 54 holes!)

Breakfast, lunch, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages are all included in the green fee, too. It’s not a ham sandwich in a box, either. We sat down like a family and had ribs, grilled chicken breasts, fresh corn on the cob, cornbread and homemade cookies for desert. And that was at the turn from No. 9 green to No. 10 tee.

And yes, they have cheese grits for breakfast if you want them (I opted for scrambled eggs, sausage links and toast.)

I’m working on a 2,000-word story on the experience for the magazines, but I’m not too proud to admit that pictures can tell a better story than words alone.

Check out these images, and for more info go to

Stay tuned to read about this amazing, spiritual spot in an upcoming issue of Houston Links and DFW Links magazines. With plenty of direct flights from DFW and Houston to Birmingham, FarmLinks is an Absolute Must Play.

Thanks for reading.

- Mark

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