Dateline May 12 – RTJ Trail Alabama – The Shoals

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Leaving Henderson Beach Florida, we drove about six hours to join Bunny and Pete Warenski, our friends from the Alaska trip at the Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville, AL, along the Tennessee River,  just above the Joe Wheeler dam on Lake Wheeler, a beautiful lake. This state park is a part of the Alabama State Park System that we will be staying at on several of our stops.

Joe Wheeler State Park Marina

Joe Wheeler was a local 25 year old that volunteered to fight with the Confederate Army, becoming a Lt. General at 27 and after the Civil War became a Brigadier General in the US Army and eventually a US Congressman representing the State of Alabama in Washington D.C.

The first course for golf was the Mighty Joe, named for Joe Wheeler,  at the Robert Trent Jones The Shoals complex.  The course was a beautiful links layout that covered many acres of beautiful open fields, one of the first to play 8,000 yards from the “tips”. The Fighting Joe is long, really long, and this links style course is simply good straight-forward golf. Some say the spectacular 17th hole is the signature hole on the course, but the 18th green overlooking Wilson Lake on the Tennessee River will distract you with its beauty, if not its treachery.

18th Mighty Joe

The golf was fun, the scores, oh well!!, but we had a blast and of course stopped in the 19th hole for a beer at the end of the round. Just for record keeping, John and Pete won the match. We decided that the most you could win on any day was one point, Sounds like a Nassau to me, no embarrassment! The history of the Nassau Bet was based on the New York newspapers publishing the scores of the golfers at Nassau Country Club on Long Island around 1900. It was an embarrassment to lose “big” so the bet was a 3 way bet, you could win the front, 9 holes, the back 9 holes and the overall for the 18 holes. So the worst you could lose was 3 ways. We decided that since we were playing 12 different courses on the trip and changing partners, the winning team would receive 1 point each for the win! Truth is John and Pete beat Janice and Bunny by 2 holes!

It was then on to the 19th hole! The staff and the other players at the bar were just fun and wonderful. We had a lot of fun talking with Christine, who was the assistant food/beverage manager for the club. She regaled us with stories of local life in the Muscle Shoals/Florence area of northern Alabama. Pete and John were smitten with the absolutely beautiful young Alabama girls that worked the restaurant and bar. Both would have recommended a trip for their sons, but all were taken by beautiful, wonderful young ladies!

We headed back to the state park for cocktails and dinner. The forecast for morning golf was not good! We woke up and called the Shoals to see if we could play on Thursday rather than the scheduled Wednesday game, no problem. We had some rain in the morning and decided to go into the local town of Rogersville and check it out. It was a fun small town with some interesting stores. A great bakery offered a chocolate pastry that was sensational! A cup of coffee with the pastry and we were off for some antique shopping. Florence has a few great shops on the outskirts of town and we stopped. Bunny found a few things that “she couldn’t live with out”, Pete smiled and we moved on. Janice found an old iron frying pan that we of course needed in the RV. With that we decided to get some local Bar B Que. Looking at our favorite source, YELP, we found Brooks.

Best Barbeque in town

As for ascetics, pictured tells it all,  short on that! The food was just great. We checked it out with Christine the next day after golf at the Shoals and she told us it was the best in the area. One more PLUS for YELP!!!

Thursday bought us back for the second round of golf at the Shoals, the Schoolmasters Course, named after president Wilson. A name is a name, our least favorite President! We are there to play golf! The tree-lined Schoolmaster is more traditional golf with every hole keeping with the natural topography along the Tennessee River. It’s wooded, rolling and spectacular. It’s hard to beat the beauty that the par-four eighteenth hole holds on the high bluffs over the river. The golf was great and Janice and Bunny killed John and Pete by 5 holes! One point per player after 2 days, got to love the Nassau concept!

So Close!!Bunny has “just missed” 2 hole in one shots on par 3’s and has had 2 birdies..we think there may be a hole in one waiting for her on this trip???

Back to the bar and more great conversation with the locals. Walking away from the two days of golf at the Shoals, the golf was sensational and the people were just wonderful!!!!

A few years ago Janice had the honor of playing as a member of the Florida team in the SWATCA (Southeastern Women’s Amateur Team Championship) , which is five southern states playing a Ryder Cup format. The course was Turtle Point in Killen, Alabama. In 1946, Stanley Robbins purchased substantial acreage a few miles east of Florence, Alabama on Wilson Lake. Mr. Robbins and his wife,  built a beautiful estate home on the property at the mouth of Shoal Creek. In the early 1950s they began talking about a lakeside golf course. Mr. Robbins agreed to donate 200 acres of back property and sell sufficient water frontage for the course and world renowned golf course designer, Robert Trent Jones, Sr. was contacted to design the course layout. The construction of the Turtle Point clubhouse, marina, golf course and first tennis court opened on December 17, 1961. There are beautiful old trees and the Magnolias were in full bloom.

Janice called the Turtle Point pro at the club to see if we could play, they graciously said yes,  and our Friday round of golf was set up.

It was a wonderful challenge and we had a great time.

18th at Turtle Point

New teams and Bunny and John prevailed by 6 holes and one a point each over Janice and Pete. We hope you are keeping score, because it is getting too complicated for us old folks!!!

When we finished our round, Janice found out that Turtle Point was going to host the Southern Woman’s tournament next year. Looks like a return trip!

The Joe Wheeler State Park was exceptional. It is on the Wheeler lake next to the Tennessee River. Every camping spot has full hook ups and is very separated by trees from each location. We naturally had a site near Bunny and Pete so we could share dinner and cocktails each evening.

Cocktail Hour!


The park is a magnificent facility with it’s own marina, lodge, cabins and golf course. Great spot to camp if ever you are in the area.

Next stop, Huntsville.


Janice 1,  John 2,  Bunny 2,  Pete 1