“Let’s head to the lake!” It’s a clarion call for generations of families across the country, an activity that creates long-lasting memories of roasting s’mores, jumping off the dock, and sleeping peacefully under the stars after a long day on the water. Located in the middle of the triangle formed by Montgomery, Alabama, Birmingham, and Atlanta rests Russell Lands, which for more than five decades has hosted vacationers on the shores of Lake Martin, a 40,000-acre man-made lake, one of the largest in the country, boasting crystalline blue water, bountiful wildlife, and 880 miles of shoreline.
Russell Lands has a long history with Lake Martin. The real estate development firm was founded by Benjamin “Mr. Ben” Russell—founder of the Russell Corporation, the one-time parent company of Russell Athletic—whose stewardship of the land and visionary investments set the tone for Russell Lands and the surrounding area. Lake Martin was created in 1926 with the construction of the Martin Dam at the Tallapoosa River, which now generates power for the Alabama Power Company. Russell Lands became a private company in 1962 when Russell Corporation went public. With a focus on conservation and the thoughtful use of Lake Martin’s resources, overseen by Mr. Ben’s grandson Ben, Russell Lands is dedicating over 1,500 acres on twelve miles of shoreline to a new development, The Heritage, in honor of his family legacy. “We’ve been really patient with the development,” says Russell Lands president and CEO Tom Lamberth. “[Lake Martin] is the only designated Treasured Lake in Alabama, and it’s spectacular.” The title goes back to Alabama Executive Order #54, which established the Treasured Alabama Lakes designation and honors lakes that have met high water quality standards. Lake Martin was chosen as the first lake to receive the title. It remains the only lake to have this exceptional classification.
Photo: Courtesy of Russell Lands
The Heritage will include roughly 250 waterfront homesites, 130 wooded interior lots, as well as Wicker Point Golf Club, the first Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw–designed golf course in Alabama. It’s the pinnacle of Southern lake living. The Heritage features large lot sizes with privacy ensured by the towering Alabama pines that line the streets and fairways. The first phase of The Heritage’s development began in the summer of 2022, and only four lots remain available for purchase. The second phase is currently underway and will add thirty-one lots soon, followed by additional phases. Homeowners can work with The Heritage’s list of preferred architects and builders or bring in their own, pending board approval. The Heritage was designed to provide a comprehensive Lake Martin experience, ensuring that waterfront properties maximize unparalleled water views. Many off-water properties offer distant views of the private Wicker Point Golf Club course, the centerpiece of The Heritage community.
Avid golfers are likely familiar with a Coore & Crenshaw design, but any person interested in conservation might also be. The company’s principals are stewards of the land, never carving out a course where it doesn’t belong but instead letting the landscape dictate what form it will take. “Their reputation is unparalleled in responsible design,” Lamberth says. “You don’t tell them where to put a golf course; they tell you where it might fit.” For Wicker Point, Coore walked the woods of The Heritage for days before settling on a peninsula that juts in and out of the shoreline. Lake Martin lies at the very end of the Appalachian Mountains, so naturally, the Wicker Point topography is varied (the course is scheduled to open in fall 2023). The front nine winds its way through hardwood forests and natural creeks with varying elevations, while the back nine is a mix of pine plantations and golf holes adjacent to Lake Martin. The Coore & Crenshaw ethos is that it designs courses that are eminently playable by all skill levels, which certainly holds for Wicker Point. A new golfer can go for it on the par-three eighth while the low handicappers could try to bomb a drive to reach the green in two on the par-five fifteenth.
Photo: Courtesy of Russell Lands
The laid-back elegance of the Wicker Point Golf Club clubhouse matches the natural setting of the course. The Craftsman- style building features a unique stone foundation where wood beams and walls sit and contribute to a refined but welcoming atmosphere. Golfers can relax after a round with a cocktail while seated on the clubhouse’s wraparound porch that affords views of Lake Martin in the distance. In the adjacent golf shop, luxurious locker rooms await, and both men’s and women’s include a “wind-down room” complete with a bar.
Just up the shoreline from Wicker Point is The Heritage’s other signature amenity. The Benjamin is a waterfront residential lake club owned by The Heritage homeowners. It features a fully equipped fitness center, a large saline pool with an adjacent grill area, and eight tennis courts with a dedicated pro shop as well as eight pickleball courts. The grounds of The Benjamin are dotted with small pavilions, firepits, cozy areas for outdoor dining, and a lawn that rolls into the beach area on Lake Martin.
It really is all about the lakeside experience at Russell Lands. Lake Martin is a place where families return again and again to fondly conjure old memories and create new, memorable moments. Russell Lands invites you to add to your heritage by owning a piece of theirs.
Find your Russell Lands lake house at RussellLands.com