PURSELL FARMS RESORT
A golfer’s paradise in Sylacauga, Alabama
Story & Photos by: Ed & Fran Stone
Some photos provided by Brian Weis and Pursell Farms
|The FarmLinks golf course is the center of a new resort offering not only golf, but also an Orvis sporting facility,
Pursell Farms Golf Resort is spread over 3,200 beautiful, rolling mountain acres in Sylacauga, Alabama. This is a golfer’s dream. FarmLinks golf course was created in 2003 to help sell fertilizer to golf course superintendents and major buyers of fertilizer. Today, the golf course is the center of a new resort offering not only golf, but also an Orvis sporting facility, Spring House Spa, hiking & biking trails, UTV Mountain Experience, and a 40 room Inn along with cottages and other accommodations.
The Pursell Family has seen lots of growth since the founding of Sylacauga Fertilizer in 1904. In the 1970’s the National Fertilizer Development Center (a part of the Tennessee Valley Authority) created POLYON, a slow release fertilizer. The product was created and tested in Muscle Shoals and Jimmy Pursell was quick to see the advantages and improvements of this product. Sylacauga was the closest plant and gained a head start in 1985 on production and distribution.
Most will recognize one of Pursell’s products that has POLYON, Sta-Green Fertilizer that was marketed in the 80’s. Rather than send sales people across the nation to explain and convince farmers and especially golf course superintendents to use this “new-fangled” fertilizer, they decided to build a golf course on a 3,200 acre tract of land just outside of Sylacauga. Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry were selected as the golf course architects for FarmLinks. They were known for their environmentally-sensitive designs such as Erin Hills in Wisconsin, host of the 2017 U.S. Open.
|The Pursells have created an upscale resort for not only golfers but also people who want to get away, relax and enjoy the out of doors. The Old Tom’s Pub in the 40-room Inn offer Gomer’s pool table for guests to play while enjoying some libation and browsing celebrity photos.
From 2003, when the course opened, they hosted some 10,000 golf course superintendents and other buyers to The Experiment…as it was called. In 2016, the fertilizer company was sold to the Canadian multinational Agrium fertilizer operation for a near-nine-figure price.
|The Inn at Pursell Farms offers 40 well-appointed rooms with several offering a veranda overlooking the golf course and meadows.
So what to do with a very high-end golf course? The decision was made to create an upscale resort for not only golfers but also people who want to get away, relax and enjoy the out of doors. Today, the Pursell Farms Resort is entertaining guests with the 18-hole FarmLinks golf course, Orvis sporting facility, Spring House Spa, hiking & biking trails, UTV Mountain Experience and upscale accommodations for families, reunions, events and golfers.
Jim Nabors, played the likeable Gomer Pyle in the Andy Griffith Show, Mayberry RFD and later his own, The Gomer Pyle Show. The Pursell Family and Gomer were very close. They grew up in this small central Alabama community of some 13,000. Gomer was part of CEO David Pursell’s wedding. The Old Tom’s Pub in the 40-room Inn offer Gomer’s pool table for guests to play while enjoying some libation and browsing celebrity photos.
There are six variations of accommodations at Pursell Farms. They are:
The Inn at Pursell Farms offers 40 well-appointed rooms with several offering a veranda overlooking the golf course and meadows. Here is where you’ll find the dining areas of Arrington and Old Tom’s Pub, fitness center, pool and the 1,504 sq. ft. Old Hickory conference room.
|Beautifully appointed accommodations, casual & fine dining and a delightful setting to relax and be active.
- Parker Lodge is a three story, 14,000-square foot building overlooking the 17th green and Lodge Lake with 8 guest rooms, billiards and indoor/outdoor seating areas.
- Masters Row Cabins and Cottage features 4 cabins with golfing names of (Ben) Hogan, (Gene) Sarazen, (Byron) Nelson, and (Sam) Snead. There’s one cottage named (Bobby) Jones overlooking the 11th fairway. A putting green and chipping course are just out the front door exclusively for cabin and cottage guests. You’ll also find a common living area with plasma TV, ample seating, and kitchenette (kitchen in cottage) and a golf cart for each guestroom parked outside.
- Two Architect Circle Cottages named (Donald) Ross and (Alister) MacKenzie overlook the 18th fairway. There are four guest rooms per cottage, each with two queen beds, plasma TV, private bath, spacious great room with stone fireplace, generous seating, dining table for 8 and kitchen. Of course there’s a golf cart for each guestroom parked outside.
- Historic Hamilton Place Home is a restored antebellum raised cottage, Greek Revival-style, built in 1852 by Benjamin H. Averiett (1806-1879). It is listed on the National Register of Historical Places, offers two bedrooms for up to four guests, a living room, dining room, kitchen, and 12 ft.-wide “dog trot hall.”
- Orvis Farmhouse is the oldest home at the farm, built in 1830, meticulously restored and appointed with 19th century antiques. It has a full kitchen, dining room, living room and three guestrooms.
The FarmLinks Golf Club is first-class from arrival to departure. As stated earlier, this golf course was created to showcase the fertilizer products of the Pursells…especially POLYON the slow release fertilizer. Most golf courses today use a type of POLYON because it requires less applications and releases as needed.
Playing FarmLinks was indeed a pleasure. Beginning with the first hole, the tee box is elevated and offers plenty of landing area and is a par 5, 576 yards from the tips. Rather than identify the tees with colors, they use: Longhorn (7,444 yds.), Copperhead (6,970 yds.), Whitetail (6,457 yds.), Bobcat (5,919 yds.) and Quail (5,250 yds.). Each of the holes have names such as Sawmill, Bootlegger, Desoto, etc. There’s a reason for each of the names. Most all fairways are broad with spacious landings and wide roughs. The two high handicap holes are numbers 4 and 12, both are par 4’s. Hole #4 is straight with yardage of 478 and a large ditch just short of the green demanding a high second shot to reach the green in regulation. The 12th hole is 488 yards and plays along the main road leading into the resort. Bunkers are on both sides of fairway near landing area and two bunkers on each side of green.
|The signature hole on FarmLinks is number 5, a 201 yarder, with a tee box elevated some 175 feet.
The signature hole on FarmLinks is number 5, a 201 yarder, with a tee box elevated some 175 feet drop. The view from the Longhorn tee allows you to not only see the green with one sand trap on the left side, but also the Gantt’s Quarry in the distance. This is a white marble quarry that provided marble to build the Lincoln Memorial and other historic features.
Overall, the FarmLinks golf course is in the same league as the Robert Trent Jones courses you’ll find throughout the State of Alabama for which there are some 24 courses from Huntsville, Muscle Shoals, Prattville to Point Clear. The Pursells have kept a few touches that deserve mentioning. In addition to the names of the tee boxes and holes on the course, they have placed an old Farmall tractor near the clubhouse and driving range. A tire swing is seen near the 15th hole and the farm atmosphere is maintained throughout the resort. FarmLinks has been named by Golfweek in 2018 as the number one all-access golf course in Alabama.
Now for some of the other activities you’ll enjoy at Pursell Farms Resort.
Orvis was founded in 1856. It is a family owned business and in early 2000, they were looking for another partner. The Pursell Farm became the ideal spot for a second Orvis owned and operated sporting facility. Here members can enjoy hunting quail, duck, dove and pheasant as well as fishing for bass in five stocked lakes. There’s a sporting clays course along with fly fishing instruction. The public is welcome to visit the Orvis store and enjoy all of these activities even if not staying on property.
If you are looking for a quiet place with signature massage therapies, the Spring House Spa offers three spacious treatment rooms and a professional staff.
Couples or families have the option of enjoying the nearly 3 miles of biking and walking trails that meander through the meadows, lightly wooded areas and along a beautiful lake. Bikes are available at a modest charge.
Guests also have available the UTV Mountain Experience using John Deere Gators to explore trails and ride up to Sulfur Mountain. There is a charge for the vehicles that handle up to four people and the trek take about 90 minutes.
Meeting planners have discovered Pursell Farms Resort offering some 12,000 square foot of meeting space with the natural beauty and amenities of the development.
Out back of the Inn, there’s a beautiful pool and sundeck allowing guests to enjoy views of the meadows and surroundings. Bocce Ball and a fitness center are also available to guests of the Inn and Cottages.
The Pursell Farm Resort is relatively new on the scene but has all the facilities to bring it to prominence in a short period of time. People will begin discovering this resort even though it is a bit off the beaten path. With its quality of offerings and true Southern hospitality with great service, it is a wonderful addition to the golf and travel business of Alabama and the Southeastern United States. Some distances from major nearby cities include: Birmingham, AL 45 miles, Montgomery, AL 74 miles, Huntsville, AL 150 miles, Atlanta, GA 140 miles and Nashville, TN 240 miles.