Alabama’s FarmLinks Blends Great Golf, Green Science

When most folks think of Alabama, they might conjure images of state’s football factory university with a hearty “Roll Tide.” Or, they might hear echoes of Martin Luther King’s speeches during the civil rights movement.

But, FarmLinks at Pursell Farms is poised to make the southern state synonymous with elite golf. Ranked as Alabama’s number one golf course by Golf Digest, the resort offers 18 holes of legitimately challenging, yet welcoming golf along with elite accommodations and endlessly friendly service.

Visitors looking to play more than one round and stay for more R&R share large lodge complex with multiple large, private bedrooms opening onto a central meeting and dining area. Executive Chef Andrea Griffith is available for booking to visit a lodge’s kitchen to prepare a gourmet meal while the guests watch the show and enjoy the results.

Still, a good night’s sleep and a top shelf meal only prepares the visitor for the 7,444 yard course.

Unusually, the full length course’s two signature holes are both par three efforts. They also both put the area’s natural rolling hills to perfect, majestic use – creating holes marked by elevation and pretty views.

On the front nine, the 172 yard fifth hole offers a tee box rising high above the green. A long, winding cart path brings up to a view of nearby holes and a big, friendly putting service. The player better shoot at that green with confidence as coming up short offers a little swimming or a bounce off that same cart path. Anything resembling a hook means digging a hand into your club bag for a new ball.

My five iron did lean left, but I managed to hook the light rough without disappearing into oblivion. A correcting chip and a two putt had me scurrying to six with a bogie.

The course’s shiniest gem is the 17th. As players approach the club house, they face a 145 yard par three demanding an iron tee shot from medium elevation over a round lake to a smallish green. To add a little pressure to the mix, the course’s largest lodge perches over the green where anyone in residence can choose to oversee the player’s handiwork.

Teeing up my ball low on the 17th tee, I was tired out by 16 holes of golf in 85 degree heat and 206 percent Alabama humidity. But, I was also well warmed up and free of most of the kinks and fine-tuning miscues I struggle with through any round of golf on a top tier, challenging course.

Tired of overthinking everything, I gripped and ripped with a strong, but well-tempo’d swing. It was the kind of shot that stays up there forever, asking you to enjoy it. The kind of shot that reminds you there’s a good golfer in you somewhere that only chooses to visit occasionally during 18 holes. It landed less than 10 feet from the stick, allowing me an easy two putt en route to a par I’ll always remember. I might remember only a couple other shots I was proud of that during that entire round, but parring the 17th at Farmlinks reminded me why I play the game.

Guests of Farmlinks interested in more than golf are also free to enjoy fishing, hunting, sport shooting, hiking and biking.

However, behind the trees and bunkers, Farmlinks stands out from other golf resorts with their Agronomics Researching and Teaching facilities. Rather than plant and care for grass and other vegetation suited exclusively for Farmlinks, the expert Agronomics staff studies and educates on grass types, renewable planting methods and environmentally responsible golf course development and maintenance.

Head greenskeepers from around the United States visit Alabama to examine Farmlinks’ research and see how they can apply the techniques to their own courses.

I’ll let the eggheads take care of that business and save the planet one golf course at a time. As for me, I just wanted to sit back and enjoy my memories of the 17th.