By Miles DeMott
Courtesy of Pursell Farms
Conveniently located in both the middle of nowhere and a little more than an hour’s drive from Birmingham, Alabama, is Pursell Farms, a 3,200-acre destination where quiet angles of repose collide serendipitously with opportunity and fulfillment. Don’t let the friendly face at the gatehouse fool you, or the cattle gently roaming the rolling pastures along the driveway. Sure, ample relaxation awaits, but the breadth and quality of activities and amenities will just as surely stir every soul to action. Pursell Farms certainly has stirred my soul on a number of occasions in ways that don’t defy description as much as demand it.
The quiet drive toward The Inn, the latest addition to the Pursell Farms lodging portfolio, offers a hint of the options to come. First is the Orvis Shooting Grounds, one of only two such facilities in the world (the other being Sandanona, in New York). The clubhouse and retail store serve as an inviting gateway to an upland wonderland, with shooting offerings that include a 12-station sporting clays course, a 5 Stand setup, group shooting schools and private instruction. Seasonal membership gains one access to a private hunting preserve that holds quail, ducks, doves and pheasants. If the fly rod is more your speed, there is seasonal access to five fully stocked fishing lakes, and group and private lessons are available.
The meandering drive through the woods continues to a sweeping valley of a golf course, with stretches of brilliant green punctuated by dots of sand and shimmering lakes. More than just a great golf course, though, FarmLinks is an established teaching center for superintendents and turf professionals. Each series of tee, fairway and green presents a variety of turf types and transitions that inform course architects and maintenance professionals alike. While the intent was initially practical—the family business was, until recently, a proprietary slow-release fertilizer—the challenge of different turf types and putting surfaces is not lost on golfers of all skill levels.
For many, the confluence of extraordinary sporting adventures with world-class golf would be temptation enough, but to serve their identified audiences with a level of thoughtful options that exceed expectations, Pursell Farms continues to experiment with amenities that lift both the spirit and, where appropriate, the heart rate. There are, for example, hiking trails and bike paths for the young at heart and ATV courses for the more adventurous. And should these activities exact an unexpected toll on your body and mind, there is a well-appointed spa to exorcise those exercise demons.
At the end of the quiet drive, though, The Inn awaits, with accommodations for larger groups and two unique dining options: Old Tom’s Pub, for lighter fare and refreshments; and Arrington, an upscale, farm-to-table dining room. The Clubhouse Grille offers a third dining option just off the 18th green. There is also an assortment of cabins and cottages that offer smaller groups both quiet respite and views of the golf course.
More than just an extraordinary golf destination, Pursell Farms offers the chance to enjoy an Orvis immersion experience into both shooting and fly-fishing, with equipment and instruction available for both men and women. Imagine the possibilities for corporate events, team building, buddy trips and even destination weddings. Everybody can participate, and all souls are lifted. That’s the magic of Pursell Farms.