The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

Its History and Economic Impact

Mark Fagan

Foreword by David G. Bronner

Title Details

Pages: 384

Illustrations: color maps, photographs, and satellite imagery

Trim size: 8.500in x 10.000in



Pub Date: 03/01/2016

ISBN: 9-781-5883-8318-1

List Price: $125.00


NewSouth Books

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The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

Its History and Economic Impact

Mark Fagan

Foreword by David G. Bronner

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  • Description
  • Reviews

The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail tells how a bold, imaginative investment by a public employee pension fund turned into a world-class tourist attraction that helped change the image and boost the economy of an entire state.

The pension fund was the Retirement Systems of Alabama, and its alternative investment was in a string of golf courses and affiliated high-end hotels and spas. In business-speak, this was an "economically targeted investment" designed to diversify returns, create jobs, and increase tax revenue.

Twenty-five years later, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is known worldwide for the quality and beauty of its courses and the hospitality and elegance of its resorts. It has significantly increased Alabama's infrastructure for tourism and conventions, provided millions upon millions in new tax revenues, spurred construction of thousands of units of adjacent housing, and helped persuade other businesses to locate in the state.

Making the Golf Trail a reality involved not only the initial vision of CEO David G. Bronner and his associates at RSA, but also the design genius and reputation of Robert Trent Jones Sr. and the hard work of many dedicated engineers and builders. It also required the cooperation of scores of local and state elected officials and economic developers.

This book is the illustrated historical account of the financial, legal, political, and economic impact details of RSA's investment in the RTJ Golf Trail. Such a detailed history could not have been written without the years of economic analysis conducted by author Mark Fagan dating back to the earliest stages of the concept. Fagan's ongoing involvement with Dr. Bronner and those working to develop the Trail made possible the mammoth one-of-a-kind history that is presented in this book.

A beautiful coffee table book about the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail that also provides detail about RSA, its assets, and its successes. You learn how each course was developed and perfected, with amenities added to enhance the experience of the visitor. Hundreds of full-color illustrations make this the perfect gift for golf-playing dads!

—Dave “Doc” Kirby, Book Bits

This book is worthy of the dramatic history it recounts and is a testament to all the people who worked so hard to create the Trail.

—David Bronner, CEO, Retirement Systems of Alabama

What an incredible effort! The detail is overwhelming. You have credited everyone that had a role, big or small, in making the Trail happen. Don’t know how you did it! It has been a rewarding time spent with the book. I never knew all that went on behind the scenes.

—Roger Rulewich, chief architect for Robert Trent Jones

In 384 meticulously researched, beautifully photographed pages, Dr. Mark Fagan lays out the story of how a plan to raise money for state pensions led to the world’s largest single golf construction project.

—Alabama NewsCenter

In 317 meticulously researched, beautifully photographed pages, Fagan lays out the story of how a plan to raise money for state pensions led to the world’s largest single golf construction project.

—John Herr, speechwriter for George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush

If you plan to go, we highly suggest you get a copy of Mark Fagan’s book. The chapters are thoughtfully organized with highly, easy-to-read, descriptions of each of the 11 sites.

—Katharine Dyson, writer for

About the Author/Editor

A lifelong Alabamian, MARK FAGAN observed the negative aspects of his state's slow economic growth from the 1950s to the late '80s. But he also enjoyed the economic progress of the last three decades as the state began to act on its great potential. After earning undergraduate and doctorate degrees, he became a professor at Jacksonville State University, where for more than 32 years he researched and published on attracting retirees for economic development. He began promoting retirement development in Alabama in 1988 and helped create the Alabama Program to Attract Retirees. When the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) began investing in the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in 1990, Fagan conducted the economic impact projections and assisted in negotiations for some of the proposed sites. He collected information on the Trail's development for 22 years and then spent three years interviewing, reviewing documents, and compiling knowledge and illustrations. This book reports the why, who, when, what, and how of RSA's confident investment in Alabama. Now retired, Fagan lives with his wife, Pam, in Fairhope, Alabama, adjacent to one of the RSA golf complexes.