Dateline May 17,2012, RTJ Golf Hampton Cove and Silver Lakes

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Having enjoyed our days in the Florence, Muscle Shoals area it was time to move on the Huntsville area and stay at another beautiful Alabama State Park. Monte Sano State Park had wonderful facilities at the top of a mountain (about 1600 feet) above Huntsville. Our first day it rained and gave us the opportunity to enjoy our living quarters, read and relax. We headed out the following morning for the Hampton Cove Robert Trent Jones complex. The courses drained very well and we were able to get out on the course around 11:00 to enjoy another fun match with Pete and Bunny. We played the River Course, the only Robert Trent Jones layout without a single bunker. The River Course is a throwback to the way courses were built long ago. The dirt was merely pushed up to create the greens and tees, leaving all else, including massive oak trees, as is. The course was a beauty with water on 16 holes, must admit, no sand traps was a pleasure. Match up for the day was John and Bunny vs. Janice and Pete. Winners – John and Bunny

Back to the state park for our gourmet feast and a good night of sleep. In the morning we broke camp. That is a big deal, unplug the electric and disconnect the water hose! We headed back to the Hampton Cove complex about 5 miles away and prepared to play the Highlands Course. The course was recently renovated to convert it back to its original design as a true Scottish links course, with rolling fairways and long, waving grasses. It had plenty of sand, water, hills and trees. The nicer of the two courses. It was again a beautiful day with Wilson’s vs. the Warenski’s. Pete and Bunny were the winners.

We then headed to play Silver Lake in the Gadsden area. The drive from Huntsville was about 80 mikes and we enjoyed some beautiful lakes and Tennessee river views. We stayed at a county park in Gadsden named Noccalula Park and Campground. This park has a rich history with beautiful picnic areas, and waterfalls.

Named by Golf Digest’s Places to Play as one of the nation’s Great Value courses in the public category, Silver Lakes is set on rolling terrain at the edge of Talladega National Forest between Anniston and Gadsden. Silver Lakes features three Championship nines plus a nine hole Short Course. This facility is anchored by a number of strong par fours that play to pedestal greens perched 30 to 40 feet above fairway level.

The courses have been totally redone in the last 2 years. All greens were replaced and huge amounts of work completed, all due to a class 4 tornado that ripped through there and destroyed the courses. They lost over 40 thousand trees and the top of the clubhouse but only some remnants of the disaster remain.

Trees not gone but folded

It is a remarkable restoration even if the trees will take many decades to return.

We first played The Backbreaker nine which is a photographer’s dream, boasting beautiful views of the Appalachian foothills from its elevated tees. We quickly figured exactly how the Backbreaker course got its name, by the time we hit our approach on the first hole. The green sits steeply above the fairway. It was a great 9 holes followed by The Mindbreaker, although slightly easier than the Backbreaker it was another great test of golf. We also ran into a slithering visitor on one of the holes, he was about 5 feet long and did not like us much, we think he is a harmless brown water snake. We highly recommend visiting Silver Lakes for a great day of golf. Again the Wilson’s played the Warenski’s, but won the match.

On to Oxmoor in Birmingham for more adventures!

Standings: Bunny 4, Pete 2, John 4, Janice 2.