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Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa provides guests a wonderful experience, from the golf course to spa to dining and relaxation. (Photo: Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa)

Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa provides guests a wonderful experience, from the golf course to spa to dining and relaxation. Whether you’re staying for a getaway weekend, a father-son or buddies golf trip or a conference, Ross Bridge is a top destination. (Photo: Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa)

The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail wasn’t a popular idea two decades ago when Dr. David Bronner conceived the idea of a world-class series of public golf courses and resorts throughout Alabama.

Crazy, they called him. Waste of money. Alabama? Golf? Laughable. But Bronner persisted and the RTJ Trail was created throughout the state: Mobile, Dothan, Greenville, Birmingham, Huntsville, Florence and elsewhere. Bronner’s vision was spot-on, though, and today the trail is one of Alabama’s top tourist attractions.

Throughout my travels in more than three decades of newspapering and outdoors writing, I’m usually asked about these Alabama topics: the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, bass fishing on Guntersville Lake or elsewhere, Auburn and Alabama football, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, and Alabama’s varied outdoors activities such as saltwater fishing, hiking trails, birding and state parks. Politics and the state’s history, of course, also get asked about, but those five are among the most-often asked.

So it was no surprise the RTJ Trail had four of the top five sites in a survey of top golf resorts.Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa near Birmingham was No. 1 and the Auburn/Opelika Marriott Hotel and Conference Center at Grand National was No. 2. I’ve visited both and have played golf at Ross Bridge, a stunning beast of a course that will test any golfer’s skills, and the courses and resorts are phenomenal.

Check out the press release below about the guest satisfaction results:

The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail offers golfers of all ages challenging courses.

The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail offers golfers of all ages challenging courses. (Photo: Alan Clemons)

For 2014 guest satisfaction during their stay at Marriott and Renaissance hotels in North America, the top golf locations are in Alabama. Four of the top five sites are located on Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa was named the number one Marriott or Renaissance hotel in North America for golf satisfaction. The Auburn/Opelika Marriott Hotel and Conference Center at Grand National finished second for golf. The Marriott in Prattville at Capitol Hill finished fourth and the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort in Pt. Clear finishing fifth for golf experience. These rankings are determined by an outside research firm hired by Marriott International for its 448 full-service Marriott and Renaissance Hotels in North America.

“Having four of the top five Marriott or Renaissance Hotels in North America is remarkable and the result of a great team of hard workers,” said John Cannon, president of Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. “We want our hotel guests and others to have a great experience when playing our courses,” said Cannon. “From making reservations to greeting guests to making bunkers and greens are pristine, our team goes above and beyond to make our visitors happy. That hard work has paid off for both the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and its Resort Collection, which contains both Marriott and Renaissance Hotels.”

The vision of Dr. David G. Bronner, CEO of the Retirement Systems of Alabama, the RTJ Golf Trail was created to bring visitors and investors to Alabama while making the state a better place to live. “Twenty three years ago before the RTJ Golf Trail opened people would have laughed that Marriott’s top golf experiences were found in Alabama,” said Cannon. “Now it is a proven fact, based on independent surveys conducted for Marriott International.”

Wide undulating fairways, large bunkers and multi-tiered greens with unique features greet golfers throughout the RTJ Trail.

Wide undulating fairways, large bunkers and multi-tiered greens with unique features greet golfers throughout the RTJ Trail. (Photo: Alan Clemons)

Top 10 Marriott and Renaissance Hotels for Golf Satisfaction

   1.  Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa – Hoover, Ala *

    2. Auburn Marriott Opelika Hotel & Conference Center at Grand National – Opelika, Ala.*

3. Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa – Vedra Beach, Fla.

    4. Montgomery Marriott Prattville Hotel & Conference Center at Capitol Hill – Prattville, Ala.*

    5. Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa – Point Clear, Ala.*

6.  Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort – Herradura, Coata Rica

7. The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club – St. Petersburg, Fla.

8. Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest – Ypsilanti, Mich.

9. Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa – Marco Island, Fla.

10.  Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa – Indian Wells/Palm Springs, Calif.

* These golf locations are part of the Resort Collection on Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

The entire Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail has 26 courses at 11 sites across Alabama. The Resort Collection has eight hotels and resorts. These golf courses and hotels are owned by the Retirement Systems of Alabama. For more information, visit www.rtjgolf.com.

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