Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail brings thousands of visitors, millions of dollars to Autauga County
Prattville has its eye on the ball, several hundred thousand of them, actually, as a prime location on the world-famous Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, called by the New York Times “some of the best public golf on earth.”
Capitol Hill, nestled among hills and river land, is one of 11 trail locations in Alabama, and is often cited as the most beautiful. Home to corporate and charity tournaments year round, and host to the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic, its three unique courses, the Judge, the Senator and the Legislator, are played more than 80,000 times each year by golfers from around the world.
Capitol Hill: Cultural, Economic Impact
“For my money, these are the best public facilities in the world,â€ says director of golf Mike Beverly, who points proudly to a few of many accolades it has received. The Zagat Survey of America’s Top Golf Courses ranked it among the top 50 courses in America. The Senator course was named among the Top 10 New Courses in the nation by Golf Magazine.
Capitol Hill is also a huge economic influence and “culturally perhaps the biggest event in the region,â€ Beverly says. More than half the rounds played at Capitol Hill are by golfers who stay three or more days, enhancing the economy through hotel stays, meals at local restaurants and more. The LPGA event transforms the area, bringing an estimated 40,000 people and $10-$12 million to town, according to tournament director Jonathan Romeo.
LPGA Draws Volunteers From Around the Country
“For the LPGA, I’d say we have somewhere between 400-500 volunteers from the River Region, and from out of town probably another 100-150,â€ says Hootie Gipson, owner of Gipson’s Tires stores and a longtime volunteer committee chairman. “When you add in the supporting cast of Golf Channel people, weather people, rules officials, physical fitness people and so on, it becomes a small town within the Capitol Hill area.”
Local residents have welcomed the club since it opened in 1999-2000, and enjoy the opportunities to meet visitors, play the courses and attend events at Capitol Hill. They also like the nature of big golf as an industry.
“The economic side of having RTJ there is certainly huge,â€ says Gipson, an avid golfer himself. “People come, they stay in our hotels, dine at our restaurants and then they go home. It’s a clean industry with no byproduct, no waste, just nice clean tax dollars.”
Restaurateur Mickey Thompson, owner of Uncle Mick’s Cajun Market & CafÃ©, enjoys steady business from Capitol Hill golfers, who he says are a “big plusâ€ for the local area.
“It is really a help,â€ says Thompson, who opened his restaurant in 2009. “I get a lot of referrals from Capitol Hill. I enjoy talking to people from all over the world – and it’s amazing how much that trail draws people in.”
The future of golf in the area looks rosy as The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail hosts several tournaments and events annually.
“Golf in Prattville is growing – it’s a great time to be outdoors. And the RTJ trail is beautiful, with great views,â€ Gipson says. “Even if you’re not a golfer, you owe it to yourself to go out to the course and take a look.”
“The RTJ trail is beautiful, with great views. Even if you’re not a golfer you owe it to yourself to go out to the course and take a look.”