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The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail: History and Impact

Mark Fagan

NewSouth Books
$100.00 hardcover
8 ½ x 10  
425 pages
color photographs throughout
David G. Bronner, foreword
March 2016

The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is a unique tourism and sports attraction consisting of championship golf courses, resort hotels, convention centers, and world-class spas spread across the state of Alabama. There is nothing like it anywhere and probably never will be. 

The Trail is the world's largest collection of golf courses built as part of one project. Its construction has been compared in complexity to the erection of the Golden Gate Bridge. More dirt was moved in the Trail's construction than in the digging of the Panama Canal. 

The Trail has evolved into an international tourist attraction, with golfers from every state and most foreign countries. The Trail's 10-millionth round of golf was played in 2013. 

All that sounds like an amazing tourism and economic success story, and it is, but the Trail was conceived  as a unique economically targeted investment of a pension plan for public teachers and state employees -- the Retirement Systems of Alabama. RSA's billion-dollar investment produced a public/private partnership for economic development and for diversification of the pension fund.   

How this project happened and what it has meant amounts to a case study in economic development, told here in words and pictures from an insider involved from the beginning. Author Mark Fagan is a professor of business and an expert on tourism development who was tapped to develop the economic models for each of the 11 communities where Trail sites were built.