The pension fund was the Retirement Systems of Alabama, and its alternative investment was in a string of golf courses and affiliated high-end hotels and spas. In business-speak, this was an "economically targeted investment" designed to diversify returns, create jobs, and increase tax revenue.
Twenty-five years later, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is known worldwide for the quality and beauty of its courses and the hospitality and elegance of its resorts. It has significantly increased Alabama's infrastructure for tourism and conventions, provided millions upon millions in new tax revenues, spurred construction of thousands of units of adjacent housing, and helped persuade other businesses to locate in the state.
Making the Golf Trail a reality involved not only the initial vision of CEO David G. Bronner and his associates at RSA, but also the design genius and reputation of Robert Trent Jones Sr. and the hard work of many dedicated engineers and builders. It also required the cooperation of scores of local and state elected officials and economic developers.
This book is the illustrated historical account of the financial, legal, political, and economic impact details of RSA's investment in the RTJ Golf Trail. Such a detailed history could not have been written without the years of economic analysis conducted by author Mark Fagan dating back to the earliest stages of the concept. Fagan's ongoing involvement with Dr. Bronner and those working to develop the Trail made possible the mammoth one-of-a-kind history that is presented in this book.
Mark Fagan received his doctorate in Social Policy, Planning, and Administration at the University of Alabama in 1981. He is Department Head Emeritus at Jacksonville State University in Alabama where he taught from 1981-2014. While at JSU, he worked half-time from 1988 to 1992 as a program developer for the Alabama Program to Attract Retirees. He assisted the Retirement Systems of Alabama on various aspects for the development of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail for the last 25 years. His work on the economic impact of retirees was cited as a contribution toward the conceptualization of the Trail. He was intimately involved in the negotiations for three sites; did projected economic impact analyses for five sites; provided the justification for four sites for access road funding; assisted with the housing components around three sites; and has written 15 articles about the Trail that were published in some form.
Dr. David G. Bronner has served as CEO of the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) since he joined the organization in 1973. He holds PhD and JD degrees and was assistant dean of the University of Alabama Law School before coming to RSA. He has guided RSA from $500 million in assets to its current $38 billion under management. He envisioned the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and directed RSA’s investment in its golf complexes, hotels, and spas. He also financed the television stations and newspapers that have provided free advertising for Alabama, helping tourism spending in Alabama increase by almost $9 billion a year.
David Leadbetter is the most recognized golf instructor in the history of the game. His new book, The A Swing, is his first for a decade and is an evolution of his swing theories that have successfully helped thousands of golfers globally. His tour players, whom he has coached over the years, have amassed 19 major golf championships. David has been prolific during his 30+ year career in producing books, videos, teaching aids that have inspired golfers of every level to reach their potential.
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