Skip directly to content

Hampton Cove, Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

Mark Fagan, Professor Emeritus, Jacksonville State University
Hampton Cove
Hampton Cove is a 54-hole golf complex located just southeast of Huntsville, Madison County. Developed by the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA), it was the third site on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and opened in 1993.
The complex sits in a natural bowl that encompasses the Flint River, lakes, a panoramic mountain backdrop, and 20 holes located next to water hazards. Most notable are the two very different 18-hole championship courses, the Highlands Course and the River Course, and one 18-hole par-3 Short Course. The Highlands Course features wooded hills whereas the River Course showcases characteristic ponds, a river, and creeks. Large amounts of dirt were moved to create terrain changes for the courses and thousands of Japanese black pines, oaks, dogwoods, and crepe myrtles were planted. The River Course was built on former soybean fields on the Flint River with 32 interconnected lakes and ponds near the J. D. and Annie S. Hays Nature Preserve. The Short Course has several lakes and ponds but no trees. The facility includes a 35,000-square-foot clubhouse with a golf shop, dining room, grill, and meeting rooms. It is operated by Sunbelt Golf.
Hampton Cove Aerial View
In 1990, Huntsville mayor Stephen Hettinger requested that the RSA and its CEO, David G. Bronner, consider the city for a golf complex. Ultimately, a local family named Hays donated 650 acres in Owens Cross Roads for the complex and began developing upscale housing on their remaining acreage. In 1998, the city of Huntsville completed a four-mile road from the east side of Monte Sano mountain over Blevins Gap to the golf complex to improve access to selected parts of Huntsville and major highways. There is no RSA hotel affiliated with this site.
The creation of the golf complex spurred the additional development of strip malls, churches, schools, a fire station, parks, and motels in Big Cove. Almost 4,500 houses have been built in Big Cove since 1990. The influx of homeowners has likewise led to almost two million square feet of commercial and service establishments in the area. Adjacent to the Hampton Cove golf complex are the Hays Nature Preserve and the Goldsmith Schiffman Sanctuary, which protect 1,000 acres of forest, open fields, and wetlands for fishing, picnicking, hiking, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing.

Additional Resources

Fagan, Mark. The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail: Its History and Economic Impact. Montgomery, Ala.: NewSouth Books, 2016.
Published:  December 18, 2020   |   Last updated:  January 19, 2021