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Heartland of America Driving Trip


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In about a week I am going to drive from Denver to Orlando (short-term job relocation). In no particular hurry, I thought I would stop and play 18 holes twice along my travels. I'm looking for your help in deciding where to play - what are the two publicly available courses along the way that can't be missed? For example, if you were traveling I-80 through Nebraska I'd tell you a must-play is Wild Horse Golf Club. Located in Gothenburg (the middle of nowhere), built by local farmers, it is one of the finest courses I've ever played with perfect greens that run around a 13. A gem in the rough, not to be missed.

I'll be on I-70 East from Denver to St. Louis, then heading South on I-24/I-75 through the tip of Kentucky, and then Tennessee and Georgia. I have fond memories of playing Bear Trace at Cumberland Mountain long ago, which is part of the Tennessee Golf Trail, and while a bit out of my way I am thinking of including it. What don't I want to miss?

Thank you for your help!

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Sounds like fun, and you'll be down here just the right time of year for some great golf too!  How long are you going to be here in Orlando?

My first thought would be to take I-65 south off I-24 and hit one of the courses on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.  Not quite as direct as coming down I-75, but not that far off either.

https://www.rtjgolf.com

http://www.golfadvisor.com/articles/top-rtj-golf-trail-courses-alabama-14353.htm

http://www.golfalabama.com/maps/roberttrentjonesgolftrailmap.cfm

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50 minutes ago, Eric C said:

In about a week I am going to drive from Denver to Orlando (short-term job relocation). In no particular hurry, I thought I would stop and play 18 holes twice along my travels. I'm looking for your help in deciding where to play - what are the two publicly available courses along the way that can't be missed? For example, if you were traveling I-80 through Nebraska I'd tell you a must-play is Wild Horse Golf Club. Located in Gothenburg (the middle of nowhere), built by local farmers, it is one of the finest courses I've ever played with perfect greens that run around a 13. A gem in the rough, not to be missed.

I'll be on I-70 East from Denver to St. Louis, then heading South on I-24/I-75 through the tip of Kentucky, and then Tennessee and Georgia. I have fond memories of playing Bear Trace at Cumberland Mountain long ago, which is part of the Tennessee Golf Trail, and while a bit out of my way I am thinking of including it. What don't I want to miss?

Thank you for your help!

Have you looked at the TST Member map to see if there's anyone you might want to meet up with along your travels?

Please add yourself to the map as well.  

As a routing option, you could consider heading south through Alabama, and playing one of the courses along the RTJ Golf Trail there.  https://www.rtjgolf.com/  I don't have personal experience, but I've heard lots of good things about the courses.  

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Thank you for the suggestions!

David, I'm going to be in Orlando at least three months but perhaps longer. It really depends on how the job goes.  

KPaul, thank you for the invitation! I'm going to take a raincheck, maybe on my trip home?

I think will pick two along the RTJ trail - there are worse things to choose from!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I thought I would follow up with the results of my trip.  I played first at Bear Trace at Cumberland Mountain on the Tennessee Golf Trail - it was my second time playing this course, the first being almost 20 years ago.  Absolutely fantastic course, and in excellent condition.  I was paired with a single, but it was only the two of us going out first at 7:00 a.m., and he walked (I would personally not walk this course - too much elevation change).  Super fun round with both of us focused on the game, but still enjoying the company.

After the round I drove the ~4 hours to Prattville, AL to play Capitol Hill's course The Judge.  Again, first off in the morning at 7:00 a.m. and this time paired with two guys who were part of a group of guys on a golf trip.  Another amazing course with a picturesque elevated #1 tee shot where you want nothing more than to hit that pure shot off the tee ... I managed to fade it off in to the water right.  The greens were large, soft, and generally well taken care of (I think they could have used a mow, despite being fast).  The fairways were generally pretty wide, but the course was certainly challenging.

During the round the two guys managed to talk me into playing the afternoon with them on The Senator. More of a links-style course, but still in excellent shape and really fun to play. I scored better during this second round, probably because I put my driver away and tried to manage the course a bit better.

I also made two new friends, and got invited on their golf trip next year!

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19 minutes ago, Eric C said:

I thought I would follow up with the results of my trip.  I played first at Bear Trace at Cumberland Mountain on the Tennessee Golf Trail - it was my second time playing this course, the first being almost 20 years ago.  Absolutely fantastic course, and in excellent condition.  I was paired with a single, but it was only the two of us going out first at 7:00 a.m., and he walked (I would personally not walk this course - too much elevation change).  Super fun round with both of us focused on the game, but still enjoying the company.

After the round I drove the ~4 hours to Prattville, AL to play Capitol Hill's course The Judge.  Again, first off in the morning at 7:00 a.m. and this time paired with two guys who were part of a group of guys on a golf trip.  Another amazing course with a picturesque elevated #1 tee shot where you want nothing more than to hit that pure shot off the tee ... I managed to fade it off in to the water right.  The greens were large, soft, and generally well taken care of (I think they could have used a mow, despite being fast).  The fairways were generally pretty wide, but the course was certainly challenging.

During the round the two guys managed to talk me into playing the afternoon with them on The Senator. More of a links-style course, but still in excellent shape and really fun to play. I scored better during this second round, probably because I put my driver away and tried to manage the course a bit better.

I also made two new friends, and got invited on their golf trip next year!

Glad you had a good trip down.  Where in the Orlando area are you staying?

Keep in touch and we'll see if we can't figure out a time to get together and play a round while you're down here.

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3 hours ago, Eric C said:

After the round I drove the ~4 hours to Prattville, AL to play Capitol Hill's course The Judge.

Glad you enjoyed your trip to Alabama!  And great choice hitting up Capitol Hill.  The Judge can play very difficult--and that tee shot on #1 is amazing.  How it narrows the further you go, with the lake on the right and swampland on the left...from so high up, looks darn intimidating.  As you know, the photo below doesn't do the elevation justice.  Was thinking the top/back tees are ~180' above the fairway...could be a little off.

Judge1.thumb.jpg.8cb5f2276ee398e2443ecaf3d3a70fe0.jpg

The first time I played that hole, I went off the tee with a 4i to keep it in the wide part of the fairway; left a mid-iron in.  I played a nice push-draw back then, but pushed it out too far, out over the lake ~10-15yds., but it drew in just enough to catch the top of the retaining wall, bounding high and left into the air and landing in the back fringe.  The pin, meanwhile, was ~85'+ away up front. ;-), and down that ridge.  One of the best lags of my life to a tap in par!  Don't recall my score that day (I was probably a ~10HCP then), but I got punished in a few places.  

The Senator sure is different.  That's where they hosted the LPGA event (Yokohama Tire Classic, I think) that Ariya Jutanugarn got her break-through win on last year.  It has its fun parts, but the Legislator is a little more of your typical parkland - much prettier, similar to the Judge - just not as difficult.

Several good public tracks in Alabama, for reasonable fees.  If you ever come back through, shoot me a note here.

BamaWade

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