Spring is here and Summer is just around the corner, and there is no better time to hit the links and play a round of golf. Dogwood Hills Golf Course has been one of the best places to play a round of golf in Jackson for nearly 45 years.
Retired educators Bryce and Doris Slater started working on Dogwood Hills in 1974. Doris Slater said it all started with a chainsaw and a pair of coveralls. They remodeled an old farmhouse and put the pro-shop downstairs, and the Slaters lived in an apartment upstairs.
They opened the front nine of the course in 1977, but they continued to work on the back nine. In 1986, they opened the second nine at Dogwood Hills.
The current clubhouse was built and opened in 1987. Doris said that they did as much work as they possibly could on the course. For the irrigation system, they rented a Ditch Witch and Bryce dug the trenches while Doris and Bryce’s brother, Dan put together the pipes.
Bryce designed the course himself. Doris said that he spent countless hours walking the property to decide where each tee box, fairway, bunkers, and greens would be placed. Doris said that she only had input on one hole at Dogwood Hills. She suggested that the 14th hole be a par three. There is a huge rock face on the left side of the green on number 14, and if a golfer hits a good enough shot (or a really bad shot), they could use the rock face as a backboard to hit the green. That hole has become one of the most well-known golf holes in Jackson County.
Doris said that she loves running the course, and she loves dealing with the public. One of the things Doris really takes pride in at Dogwood Hills is the landscaping. No matter what time of year it is, Doris always has the plants and bushes at Dogwood Hills looking pristine.
She said that the 1990s were a booming time at Dogwood Hills. People were playing golf at an all-time high, and business was great. However, business started to slow down in the year 2000, but it was not just at Dogwood Hills. People did not play golf as much as they did in the 1990s. In the late 2000s, golf courses across the country started to close. Bryce and Doris had to figure out a way to bring people to the golf course.
They decided to build log cabins on the property and used them to market golf packages. They opened the first cabin in 2008. The package comes with breakfast and one round of golf for every night in the cabin. People come from all over the country to stay in the cabins and play golf at Dogwood Hills. Doris said that they had a group from Ottawa, Canada come to play golf at Dogwood Hills. She said that people come from Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and all around the tri-state area to play golf in Flat Rock.
Bryce passed away in 2013, and Doris continues to run the golf course. Before his passing, Bryce and Doris, both retired educators, had made arrangements through a “Life Estate” to donate the golf course, clubhouse and 4 resort cabins to Northeast Alabama Community College Foundation.
Upon the passing of Doris, the college will assume ownership of Dogwood Hills. Doris said that her hope is that Dogwood Hills will remain a golf course. Her dream is that NACC will be able to offer many scholarships to local students.
With golf on the rise again, Doris has seen more and more people coming to Dogwood Hills to play a round of golf. She would like to see more young kids playing golf and taking golf more seriously because it is a game people can play for the majority of their lives.
Dogwood opens every day at 6:30 a.m. and they close at sundown. Dogwood Hills is located at 26460 Alabama Highway 71 in Flat Rock. To set up a tee time, call 256.632.3634.