Mike May (mikemaymarketing.com; email@example.com)
On your next
golf excursion, visit central Alabama. If
necessary, fly to Birmingham and rent a car.
There, you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to places to play
the great game of golf. One of your main
destinations on your trip should be the Robert Trent Jones (RTJ) Golf Trail,
specifically the RTJ 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). Three other non-RTJ courses,
which deserve to be placed in the ‘must play’ category, include the top-rated
course in Alabama (FarmLinks near Sylacauga) and one layout on the outskirts of
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 eight of the finest holes in the area so
you will have an idea of what to expect when you arrive at the afore-mentioned
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 opps! Those elevation changes begin on the first
hole. The par 5 third hole is the
Signature Hole. It 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 number
of reclaimed railroad ties. This par 5
is a one-of-a-kind hole. Pars are to be
celebrated at the 3rd and birdies are quite possible.
When you visit Grand
National (334-749-9042) to play the Lake and the 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. At the Lake course, use your camera on the
par 3 15th hole. From the
tee, it’s 100 %carry over water to the green.
This is one of the RTJ Golf Trail’s most scenic holes.
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. Pars are celebrated at the opening hole of
The signature hole at
FarmLinks (256-208-7600) is the par 3 fifth.
It is one of the most dramatic, visually appealing shots that you will
ever hit in your golfing life.
After taking a
winding, uphill path to your teebox, you will be faced with a downhill tee shot
to the green in the valley below. From
the back (Longhorn) tees, there’s a 170-foot vertical drop from the tee down to
the green, which is the largest putting surface at FarmLinks. You will also get a spectacular bird’s-eye
view of Sulphur Mountain in the distance.
Even if you are not playing from the Longhorn tees, it’s worth a trip to
the top to check out the view. It’s
FarmLinks’ own version of a ‘Rocky Mountain High.’
Another classic hole
at FarmLinks is the par 3 17th, which has Parker Lodge situated in
the woods behind the green. The 17th
is called Big Gulp because Pennywinkle Lake sits between the tee and the
green. This is no time to be short with
your tee shot. At the 17th,
you are definitely better off trying to save par from behind the green than
from the bottom of Pennywinkle Lake! The
view from Parker’s Lodge, as the golfer’s play the 17th, is one of the most
scenic views in golf.
(205-343-4508) features many classic holes.
The finest par 4 is the 16th hole. From any of the four tee boxes, you must hit
your tee shot over water, with a left-to-right ball flight. Then, on your approach to the green, don’t
let your shot drift right or short, otherwise it might get ‘wet’ or
‘sandy.’ If the wind is in your face,
it’s one of the finest holes in the state.
The 16th hole is a beautiful golf
hole that requires you to think your way through the hole. The fairway slopes from left to right and
eventually falls into a pond that lines the complete right side of the fairway.
The pond extends up close to the green that features a narrow kidney
shape. The green falls from right to left and is heavily bunkered.
Par is a great score on this hole.
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, affordable, and available
for play today!
Finally, in Alabama,
it’s either War Eagle or Roll Tide, every day of every week of every month –