Capitol Hill, Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

Capitol Hill Aerial View Capitol Hill is a 54-hole golf complex in Prattville, Autauga County, that opened in May 1999 as the eighth site on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail (The Trail). It was developed by the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) and features dramatic elevation changes overlooking the Alabama River and Cooter’s Pond with views of downtown Montgomery, Montgomery County. The complex is located on Intersate-65, 10 miles north of Montgomery.

The Capitol Hill site consists of three 18-hole championship courses that reference its location near the state capitol: the Judge, the Senator, and the Legislator. The Senator, a links course, was built on a cotton field with high mounds separating the holes, tall fescue grasses, and 193 sand traps. The Legislator winds up and down the bluff through forest and a cypress swamp. The Judge sits on 200 acres of marsh and an artificial lake with the opening hole dropping some 200 feet. Overall, the site has an elevation change of more than 200 feet with spiraling wooden cart paths and high bridges traversing the bluff and water features on the courses. The complex’s clubhouse is The Trail’s largest, with 52,417 square feet, including an 8,400-square-foot wrap-around porch with views of downtown Montgomery, a pro shop, bar and restaurant, locker rooms, and meeting rooms. There is a 360-degree practice range, an area for chip shots, pitch shots, and sand shots, and a golf teaching facility.

The Judge Course In February 1997, business and government leaders from Prattville, Montgomery, Millbrook, and Autauga and Elmore Counties organized to persuade RSA to build a golf complex in Prattville. In November 1997, Prattville officials agreed to convey 674 acres to RSA, assist in negotiating a lease of 271 acres from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE), and construct the access road for the site on The Trail. The pulp and paper company Union Camp Corporation donated 330 acres along the Alabama River to remain natural in response to environmental concerns over tree loss from the COE lease that had 150 acres of hardwood forest near the Alabama River. Union Camp acted to facilitate the agreement to promote economic development in the region. Prattville financed $6 million for the project, to be repaid with increased revenue from entertainment and lodging taxes.

RSA owns two hotels which support visitors to this golf complex. RSA’s Prattville Marriott hotel at Capitol Hill has 94 main guest rooms, two eight-room villas, a 10,000-square-foot executive cottage with five suites, and a private helipad. There is a restaurant, event space, and a ballroom. RSA partnered with Prattville to add the conference center. In 2002, RSA purchased the Prattville Marriott Hotel/Conference Center on the site from the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama who built it in 2000. The golf resort was ranked Number 1 out of Marriott’s 25 golf resorts in the U.S. and Canada in 2010 and Marriott’s Top North American Golf Destination in 2011.

Montgomery Marriott Prattville Hotel and Conference Center RSA’s second hotel that services visitors to this complex is the Montgomery Renaissance hotel in downtown Montgomery. It features 133,000 square feet of event space, 346 guest rooms, two restaurants, and an outdoor bar. The city of Montgomery conveyed their Civic Center to RSA and a portion of the funds for developing this hotel complex, renovating the civic center, and adding a 660-car parking deck. The old Civic Center was completely renovated with 20,000 square feet of meeting space added. The hotel is also home to the 1,800-seat Montgomery Performing Arts Center that can accommodate Broadway shows and concerts.

Renaissance Hotel and Spa at the Convention Center In 2021, U.S. News & World Report ranked the Montgomery Renaissance hotel number 13 of the top 25 hotels in Alabama. It has allowed Montgomery and the surrounding region to be widely promoted through the RSA media companies and marketing of The Trail and provides the necessary space to host sporting events, conventions, and concerts. It has served as an anchor for the revitalization of downtown Montgomery.

The number of motels, restaurants, retail outlets, and houses has increased significantly around this complex since it opened and was instrumental in attracting Hyundai to Montgomery. The Ladies Professional Golfers Association (LPGA) has held five tournaments at Capitol Hill and brought 144 of the top women golfers from more than 25 countries to Alabama. In turn, Prattville and Montgomery were publicized all over the world during broadcast of the tournaments, including the Golf Channel’s feed to an international audience. The increased spending associated with the complex and the two hotels has had a positive economic impact with increased revenue for the region.

Additional Resources

Fagan, Mark. The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail: Its History and Economic Impact. Montgomery, Ala.: NewSouth Books, 2016.

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