4 of Alabama’s Best Golf Courses
On your next golf excursion, visit central Alabama, home to 4 of Alabama’s best golf courses. There, you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to places to play. The focal point of your trip should be the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, specifically the layouts outside Birmingham (Oxmoor Valley: home of Ridge and Valley), in Hoover (Ross Bridge: home of Ross Bridge), near Montgomery (Capitol Hill: home of Senator, Legislator, and Judge), and in Opelika (Grand National: home of Links and Lake).
While there are not enough column inches to give you a blow-by-blow account of what to expect at each course, I can briefly describe a few of the finest holes in central Alabama so you will have an idea of what to expect when you arrive at the afore-mentioned courses.
The Ridge course at Oxmoor Valley (205-942-1177), built on land once mined by U.S. Steel, has a number of elevation changes and is filled with many memorable photo ops! Those elevation changes begin on the first hole. The par-five third hole, the Signature Hole, is cleverly designed as your tee shot is hit to a peninsula-like fairway. The green, off in the distance, is raised from the fairway and is supported by a shelf of exposed shale rock and a few reclaimed railroad ties. This par 5 is a one-of-a-kind hole. Pars are to be celebrated at the 3rd and birdies are possible.
When you visit Grand National (334-749-9042) to play the Lake and/or Links courses, many of the holes are along the 600-acre Lake Saugahatchee. Many people feel that the property where Grand National was built is the finest piece of land that Robert Trent Jones, Sr. had ever seen for a golf course. When you play the Links course, many people walk off the 18th green convinced that they just played one of the most difficult finishing holes in the state. It features a tee shot that must be struck over the corner of the lake. Then, the approach shot is hit to a shallow, raised green which is supported by massive rocks. At the Lake course, bring out the camera on the par 3 15th hole. From the tee, it’s 100 percent carry over water to the green. This is one of the most scenic holes on the RTJ Golf Trail.
Words cannot do justice to what you see when you stand on the first tee of the Judge, located at Capitol Hill (334-285-1114). It’s stunning! From the back tees, it’s a 200-foot drop from tee to the fairway, which is flanked by the backwaters of the Alabama River. This is a perfect time to hit it long and straight, preferably straight! Water flanks the right and rear of the Judge’s first green.
And, finally, the 9th hole at Ross Bridge (205-916-7677) is particularly interesting as it’s a right-to-left dogleg par four where water hugs the left side of the fairway from tee to green. There’s also water at the front of the green. To complicate matters, the 9th fairway is split by a sand bunker perched in the middle of the fairway. From the fairway, it’s a short wedge to a quasi-island green which is also protected by sand at its entrance.
What makes these golf courses so special is that they are accessible and affordable…and available for play today!