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Our selected golf courses: Alabama - Robert Trent Jones Trail

Alabama and the Robert Trent Jones golf trail

“Some of the best public golf on Earth” – The New York Times

A little history: in 1990 the Alabama State Pension fund decided to invest in their own State and citizens. There is an enormous amount of virgin bush in Alabama and they employed Mr. Robert Trent Jones Senior to convert some carefully chosen areas into top-notch golf courses open to the public. This unique combination of warm southern sun and hospitality, acres of untouched forest and Mr. Trent Jones’ genius for course design has created a golf trail through Alabama that is becoming legendary. And by the way, most of these courses are devoid of housing – most refreshing for the States!

Robert Trent Jones Trail Guide

For more information on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail
download the Trail Guide - just click on the image above
(40 page "pdf" file).

We would recommend flying directly to Atlanta in neighbouring Georgia from where you can hit the trail in under two hours by car. Even if you spend one night in Atlanta on arrival, you can still be on the first Tee by mid-morning at either Silver Lakes or Grand National: all very easy. Alternatively there are connecting flights into Birmingham or Montgomery.

The loop of the trail we would recommend to begin with is Silver Lakes (27 holes), Oxmoor Valley & Ross Bridge (54 holes and Renaissance hotel), Capitol Hill (54 holes and Marriott hotel), Grand National (54 holes and Marriott Hotel). Plenty of golf for ten days or a fortnight’s stay! However if you are looking to play and stay beside the sea then head way down South to Mobile and the Magnolia Grove Resort on the Gulf of Mexico.

Silver Lakes

Back Breaker
Heart Breaker
Silver Lakes
27 holes: 7,674yds: par 72
Architect: Robert Trent Jones Snr.

A little way off the main Interstate between Atlanta and Birmingham the course lies amid utter tranquillity in the backwoods of Alabama. Dense woodland surrounds each hole and the silvery lakes reflect the distant majesty of the Appalachian foothills: splendid golf in splendid isolation.

The Backbreaker and Heartbreaker nines make up the most-requested course, but be warned: it is also rated as one of the toughest to be found in the United States.



The Mindbreaker nine holes are very much of the same high standard – just with more (much more) water in play.

Mind Breaker

There is also a nerve-jangling 9-hole par-3 course to consider - with water on merely seven of them!

Silver Lakes - par 3 course

Oxmoor Valley & Ross Bridge

Another grouping of three excellent courses, so close together (Ross Bridge is literally over the road from Oxmoor Valley) that they can be considered as one.

Oxmoor - Valley Course
18 holes: 7,149yds: par 72
Architect: Robert Trent Jones Snr.

As the name suggests the course stretches out for two miles along lush valley below the Clubhouse. The overriding characteristic of the course is interesting par fours that offer up birdie opportunities for two well placed shots.  Sure to be enjoyed by the more thoughtful golfer…

Oxmoor – Ridge Course
18 holes: 7,055yds: par 72
Architect: Robert Trent Jones Snr.

The Ridge course lies amidst crests and hollows on an exceptional piece of terrain that gives rise to some remarkable golf holes (and some severe fairways). This was once Confederate mining country (of which there are vestiges around the course) and you play amongst rocky outcrops and over disused dams in a roller-coaster ride around the forest. Perfect for match-play golf.

Ross Bridge 18th - with Renaissance hotel behindRoss Bridge  18 holes: 8,191yds: par 72.  Architect: Robert Trent Jones Snr.

A huge course in every aspect, designed over 600 acres of terrain to host tournament play (it is already on the US Senior Tour roster) it has been designed to test your golf to the utmost; beauty and beast rolled into one. Superbly manicured fairways run up and down around the lake and the course has a feeling of being sculpted into the landscape. Other touches, such as the functional watermill halfway house and the cascading waterfall behind the eighteenth, add to the other-worldly aura of Ross Bridge. In reality, the back Tees are only playable if your Handicap starts with a plus sign; there are four other Tee-boxes for mortals to choose from. N.B. Spread over such a vast area, buggies are compulsory.

Capitol Hill

An outstanding and astounding complex just outside the original southern capital of Montgomery.  Three utterly different courses in one: Wetland, Woodland and Links.

The Judge
18 holes: 7,794yds: par 72.
Architect: Robert Trent Jones Snr.

From the Tee box at Clubhouse level you drive down to the river and lake below; away in the distance the skyscrapers of downtown Montgomery stretch through the dense canopy of forest that covers so much of Alabama towards the blue above. The course is all at river level and picks its way around small lagoons and marshy areas, sanctuary to a broad range of wildlife.
Ranked in the top fifty courses in America.

The Legislator
18 holes: 7,323yds: par 72.
Architect: Robert Trent Jones Snr.

A classic Trent Jones design: holes shaped by huge white bunkers that stand out against the backdrop of solid woodland. The course is mainly on the higher ground around the Clubhouse offering superb vistas across Cooters Pond to Montgomery; on the back nine, the “Sky Bridge” takes you down through the cypresses for six holes around the marshes then back up to Clubhouse level.

The Senator
18 holes: 7,726yds: par 72.
Architect Robert Trent Jones Snr.

Apart from the sound of waves crashing on the shore and an icy blast off the North Sea, the Senator course would fit nicely into any Celtic coastline. A pure links design with forty foot man-made “dunes” shaping each hole and some one hundred and sixty pot-bunkers along the way. This links course has been so well carefully created that you soon lose yourself in its twist and turns and forget it shouldn’t really be here!

Grand National

A fantastically beautiful tract of land where towering pines line the intricate shoreline of the 600-acre Lake Saugahatchee. The Clubhouse sits surrounded by woodland above the lake; all around glorious golf holes fall away to the lake shore and back up the gentle slopes. It is hard to imagine a more exquisite collection of thirty-six tranquil golf holes. On a warm day, with the pines scenting the air and sunlight slanting through the woods onto the ultramarine waters of the lake, this just has to be a corner of golfing heaven.
And by the way, don’t overlook the handsome par-3 course – one of the best in the U.S.

Lake Course
18 holes: 7,149yds: par 72.
Architect: Robert Trent Jones Snr.
Links Course
18 holes: 7,311yds: par 72.
Architect: Robert Trent Jones Snr.

Hampton Cove

Two contrasting courses worthy of the journey to the northern outpost of the Trail in Huntsville. There is also an 18-hole par 3 course to consider for a rapid after lunch round or to fine-tune your short game…

Highlands Course
18 holes: 7,262yds: par 72.
Architect: Robert Trent Jones Snr.

The course starts over the road from the Clubhouse and winds its way around the folds in the northern Alabama landscape, providing some very memorable holes: the fifth with its Fairway gully and old mule-barns beside the Green and the sixth that plunges through a narrow gap in the dogwoods to a lakeside Green are particularly attractive.

River Course
18 holes: 7,667yds: par 72

Architect: Robert Trent Jones Snr.

A Trent Jones course without a bunker!!! Unbelievable but true. The flatlands on the Clubhouse side of the road are the flood plains of the Flint River (previously soyabean plantations). The River course winds along the meanders of the river with raised Greens proving a stern test of club selection.

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