To be honest, Sylacauga, Ala., was never very high on this city slicker’s “bucket list.” However, after a recent, relaxing three-day stay there, I can’t return fast enough.

Specifically, the newest object of my affections is FarmLinks at Purcell Farms

The course, designed by acclaimed course architects Dr. Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry, is a mix of dramatic elevation changes, pristine fairways and immaculate greens. The panoramic views of the surrounding, unspoiled countryside — particularly from the signature, par-3 fifth hole, which has a 170-foot tee-to-green vertical drop — are stunning, particularly in the fall.

Because FarmLinks is literally a “living laboratory,” where tomorrow’s golf products are tested today, you won’t find more immaculate course conditions anywhere. To that end, each tee, fairway and green on the course uniquely features a different variety of turfgrass.

FarmLinks at Purcell Farms

Also unique to FarmLinks is that golfers pay an all-inclusive, daily golf fee of $135, which includes unlimited play, unlimited use of the practice facility (driving range, putting and chipping greens), a golf car, delicious lunch at the clubhouse, and unlimited snacks and non-alcoholic beverages.

FarmLinks is truly a hidden gem. Before even reaching the first tee you’ll discover FarmLinks’ Southern hospitality is, well, unbelievable. Literally. Every FarmLinks employee is so friendly and helpful that initially it seems too good to be true. But rest assured, these folks are genuine, and they truly enhance the experience.

Off the Course

FarmLinks features five types of deluxe accommodations for nearly 80 guests, suiting any taste or need. Guests can choose from a cozy, Southern-style guesthouse or a rustic lodge with all the amenities, or they can relax with the comforts of home in a spacious, four-bedroom cottage or cabin. Guests staying in the Cottages and Cabins even get personal Club Car vehicles, handy for whisking around the sprawling property. While FarmLinks doesn’t sell alcohol, you can bring your own into your lodging.

FarmLinks at Purcell Farms

FarmLinks’ small-meeting and event-quality services and spaces are absolutely perfect for groups looking to combine some work, golf and bonding. The meeting space includes a conference center with three meeting rooms (with a capacity of nearly 200 people), the Solutions Center with a 75-seat theater room and a private focus-group viewing room, and eight additional boardroom-type meeting spaces. Other than, perhaps, not having any business-related work at all, what’s better than stepping right out of a meeting onto an immaculate, uncrowded golf course?

Then there’s FarmLinks’ sumptuous Southern food and beverage service, which truly has to be experienced to be believed. Quick lunches to full-course, huge-portioned private dinners are served, including the option of having your dinner prepared and served right in your guest room. The Grille, FarmLinks’ restaurant, has two HD Plasma-screen televisions and is available for luncheons, dinners, corporate events, business meetings, parties, weddings and receptions.

Cooking is important at FarmLinks, as evidenced by its unique upcoming “Barbecue Rubs & Clubs at The Farm” event on July 23. Nationally recognized food and wine expert Scott Jones will offer an interactive barbecue seminar, followed by an afternoon of golf and an authentic barbecue supper ($169 per person, register with John Trawick at

More sporting options

FarmLinks also offers off-course sporting diversions. Approximately one-third of Pursell Farms’ vast acreage is intensely managed and prepared for guided preserve hunting for deer or turkey, or an afternoon dove, quail or duck hunt. Meanwhile, anglers of all ages and abilities can fish year-round for largemouth bass or bream in FarmLinks’ expertly designed, man-made Lake Christine, Lodge Lake or Swamp Lake.

FarmLinks at Purcell Farms

I’m a terrible fisherman, but I had a blast (sorry about that) at FarmLinks’ five-stand clay shooting range. Nine trap machines throw targets from all angles — from high-crossing shots, to rabbits to a wobble trap. I soon learned I’m also a lousy marksman, but it is great fun for novice and expert shooters — and is perfect for entertaining small groups.

In retrospect, other than chirping birds and a few cheerful, on-course celebrations, our gunshots were the only noises we heard during our visit. To a city boy, that kind of solitude is priceless.

“Suite Tee Times” Summer Stay & Play Special

Through July 18, you can take advantage of FarmLinks’ incredible “Suite Tee Times” Summer Stay & Play Special. Stay one night in one of FarmLinks’ luxury accommodations for a fraction of the seasonal rates, choose one of three exclusive offers and receive a free FarmLinks “Mulligan” Golf Card, good for up to 12 rounds of free golf (valued at over $1,600).

The $99 offer includes luxury accommodations at a $110 savings on lodging. The $199 offer includes luxury accommodations and one day of golf, with lunch, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages. You’ll also receive one "Mulligan" card, good for six additional free rounds of golf. All told, you’ll save $145 on lodging (each free "Mulligan" golf round may be used once per tee time).

The $299 offer includes luxury accommodations and two days of golf, with lunch, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages. You’ll also receive two "Mulligan" cards, good for 12 additional free rounds of golf. You’ll save $389 on lodging.

Call (877) 292-FARM (3276), and mention promo code “Suite Tee Times” before booking your reservation.

Editor's Note: This story was contributed to by a veteran travel writer.

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