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Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail celebrates 25 years in District 7

Robert Trent Jones once designed a putting green for President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the White House. He also designed a hole at the presidential retreat known as at Camp David.

To Alabamians, the name Robert Trent Jones might strike a familiar note, considering he designed 11 courses that are peppered throughout the state. The single largest single golf design contract in history, which was first commissioned in 1990, would become known as the world-renowned Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, with courses located from Mussel Shoals down to the Gulf of Mexico.

Speaking to reporters from behind a podium at the Oxmoor Valley Country Club, Councilor Jay Roberson touted not only the economic impact the golf course has brought to the community for the last 25 years, but also the lessons that can be gained from playing a sport predicated on discipline and mental stamina.

“This particular course in District 7 has had millions of visitors throughout the years and to see the economic impact — people getting to work, job creation, people to maintain the course — this is really an economic engine for the city of Birmingham,” Roberson said at the luncheon celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

Roberson said he utilizes the course in order to help teach his nine-year-old daughter lessons that are larger than golf. “I’ve seen young people’s character change just from the discipline of golf. It teaches respect and etiquette,” Roberson said. “How they approach each hole, how they putt, being quiet on the course, those teachable tools can be utilized throughout life. And let’s not forget honesty. That’s very important for a scorecard.”

 John Cannon, president of Sunbelt Golf Operations, which manages the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, said that the Oxmoor Valley course alone has had a nearly $2 billion economic impact in surrounding areas since it was opened 25 years ago.

“That’s jobs, tax dollars and attract residential and commercial development,” Cannon said. The Retirement Systems of Alabama owns the golf courses, according to Cannon. The RSA offers discounted rates to retirees and teachers throughout the state. State residents can apply for an “RTJ” card that will allow for the lowest rates on all 11 courses. On Thursday, a round of golf at Oxmoor Valley was marked down to $25 in observance of the anniversary.

All in all, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is comprised of 468 holes that avid golfer and fans travel from all over the world to play. The concept of the course was a brainchild of David Bronner, CEO of Retirement Systems of Alabama, who believed that the diversifying the state’s pension funds would be beneficial to everyone in the state. Elected officials and golf pros, heaped praise on Bronner and his vision to make Alabama a world-class golf destination.

In 2018, Shoal Creek Golf Course, which is part of the RTJ trail, will host the US Women’s Open, marking big moment for Alabama to be elevated to a national stage.

This article is a contribution from Cody Owens (coowens@birminghamal.gov) in the Birmingham City Council Public Information Office. For more information please contact 205.254.2294.