The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - Alabama

  • 01 of 10

    The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - Alabama

    Map of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail
    ••• Robert Tren t Jones Golf Trail Map. Map Courtesy Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

    The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama is the brainchild of Dr. David Bronner, CEO of the Retirement Systems of Alabama. Bronner was inspired to build a series of championship golf courses, a trail that would stretch from one end of the state to the other. It was a "Field of Dreams” thing: if you build it, they will come; and they did; literally thousands of golfers have played the 10 courses in the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. There are 10 pages in this article, each with a photograph and review; to move from one page to the next, just click the buttons at the top and bottom of each page.

    As far as Bronner was concerned, only one man should build his dream: Robert Trent Jones, Sr., arguably the best golf course architect of his time. Jones came out semi-retirement to undertake the huge project.

    Initially there were only seven sites in the Trail: Hampton Cove in Huntsville, Oxmoor Valley in Birmingham, Silver Lakes in Anniston, Grand National in Opelika, Cambrian Ridge in...MORE Greenville, Highland Oaks in Dothan, and Magnolia Grove in Mobile. Capitol Hill, Montgomery, was added in 1999; The Shoals in Florence and Ross Bridge in Birmingham, opened in 2005. Nowhere else will you find such a test of golf on such a grand scale. Some of the courses are short; one is just 4,700 yards; the longest is over 8,100.

    One RTJ Director of Golf said, "The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is an incredible golfing experience for everyone. The courses will challenge the best golfers in the world yet at the same time allow an enjoyable outing for the casual to beginning golfer."

    Now the grand resorts are on board: the Marriott at Capitol Hill, Marriott at Grand National, Marriott Shoals Resort and Spa, Renaissance Ross Bridge Resort and more. Eight of the 10 RTJ courses are now served by resort hotels.

    Each site is located close to an interstate highway. I-65 passes by six and all are easily accessible by road from Atlanta.

    Birmingham's airport is central to all ten sites, thus they are easily reachable from cities throughout the United States.

    If you need to contact the Trail, visit here for all of the contact info.

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    Continue to 2 of 10 below.
  • 02 of 10

    Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - Hampton Cove – Huntsville, Alabama

    Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - Hampton Cove
    ••• Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - Hampton Cove, Huntsville, AL. Photo Courtesy Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

    At the northeastern end of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Hampton Cove, in Huntsville, is a 54-hole facility where the terrain changes drastically from one side of the property to the other.

    The Highlands, a Scottish Links-style course, is my favorite course on the Trail (I live just 2 hours away). It’s a scenic course where thousands of Japanese black pines, oaks, dogwoods, and crepe myrtles have been planted to enhance such features as an old mule barn beside the fifth hole.

    The River Course is the complete opposite of the Highlands Course. The only Robert Trent Jones layout without a single bunker, the course is laid out in the flood plain of the Flint River. It’s a throwback to the way courses were built long ago - the dirt was merely pushed up to create the greens and tees, leaving all else, including massive oak trees, as is. The enormous, 250-year-old black oak behind the 18th green is reputed to be the third oldest in the state.

    The Short Course at Hampton Cove is very open...MORE and links-like, with water in play on 11 holes and a large double green accommodating the 10th and 17th greens.

    Green Fees: from $40 to $55;

    Reservations: call 1-800-949-4444

    Directions:

    From I-65, take the I-565 East exit 340. Go 14 miles to exit 17B. Turn right onto Governor's Dr. and go 11 miles to Old Hwy. 431 South. Turn left on old Hwy. 431S and travel 1 mile to the entrance on the right.

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    Contact:

    Hampton Cove Golf Course
    450 Old Highway 431
    Owens Crossroads, AL 35763
    (256) 551-1818

    Visit the Hampton Cove Golf Course website

    Continue to 3 of 10 below.
  • 03 of 10

    Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - The Shoals - Muscle Shoals, AL

    Fighting Joe - The 18th at The Shoals, AL
    ••• Fighting Joe - The 18th at The Shoals, AL. Copyright Michael Clemmer - Licensed to RTJ Golf Trail

    Situated between the Wheeler and Wilson dams on the Tennessee River. The Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa is at the far northwestern end of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

    Of the two championship courses at The Shoals, the eastern layout is named after Confederate General Joseph “Fighting Joe” Wheeler.

    Fighting Joe is a links-style course of 8,092 yards off the Black tees and it plays extremely long. Even so, it’s good-old, straight-forward test of golf. Two of Fighting Joe’s 18 holes border on the spectacular: the 17th hole is the designated “signature hole,” but the 18th green overlooking Wilson Lake on the Tennessee River is truly a thing of beauty – a beautiful but deadly lady.

    The second course, The Schoolmaster (named for President Woodrow Wilson who was known as "The Schoolmaster of Politics"), is the second course at The Shoals. Some say it’s tougher than Fighting Joe, but I have to wonder. It’s a traditional golf inland course, tree-lined, rolling, spectacular, a true...MORE child of the Tennessee River.

    Green Fees: from $40 to $55;

    Reservations: call 1-800-949-4444

    Directions:

    From Birmingham: Take I-65 to Exit 310. Take the ramp toward West Point/Moulton and head west. Go approximately 50.7 miles to County Road 48. Turn right onto County Road 48 and go 11 miles to Hunter Road. Turn left onto Hunter and follow the signs.

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    Contact:

    The Shoals Golf Course
    990 SunBelt Parkway
    Muscle Shoals, AL 35661
    (256) 446-5111

    Visit The Shoals Golf Course website

    Continue to 4 of 10 below.
  • 04 of 10

    Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - Silver Lakes - Anniston/Gadsden, Aabama

    Silver Lakes, Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail
    ••• Silver Lakes, Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. Photo Courtesy of Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

    Silver Lakes is a Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail layout of three championship nines and a heart-stopping nine-hole par 3 course that will test even the best. Located at the edge of the Talladega National Forest near Anniston, Silver Lakes offers some of the most spectacular, scenic golf on the Trail. The brilliance of Silver Lakes is the layout of its multiple tee selections; there are as many as 12 on some holes.

    The Heartbreaker nine is tough: dubbed by those who know as the most challenging nine on the Trail. The 8th, a par 3 that plays over 200 yards across water and uphill to the green is a monster; the 450 yard par 4 ninth has water the entire left side of the fairway.

    The Backbreaker nine with its beautiful views of the Appalachian foothills is no less of a test. The par 5 seventh, a 623-yard monster, brings water into play not once, but twice.

    The Mindbreaker nine is easier than the other two. Club selection is the key to a low score.

    The Short Course is perhaps the toughest...MORE collection of par 3s I’ve ever come across. Water comes into play on seven of the nine holes, including a 12-foot waterfall beside the sixth green.

    Green Fees: from $40 to $55;

    Reservations: call 1-800-949-4444

    Directions:

    From Gadsden on I-59, take the US Hwy 431 South exit and go 18 miles to Oak Grove Rd. Turn right on Oak Grove Road and go 1 mile. Turn left into the residential community and go 1 mile to clubhouse.

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    Contact:

    Silver Lakes Golf Course
    1 SunBelt Parkway
    Glencoe, AL 35905
    (256) 892-3268

    Visit the Silver Lakes Golf Course website

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - Oxmoor Valley, Birmingham, Alabama

    Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - Oxmoor Valley, Birmingham, Alabama
    ••• Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - Oxmoor Valley, Birmingham, Alabama. Photo Courtesy of Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

    Scenic forests, meandering creeks and sudden elevation changes are the defining features of the three Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail courses at Oxmoor Valley set among the peaks and valleys of the southern Appalachians close to Birmingham, AL.

    The Ridge Course, is a land of rolling fairways, dense woodland cover and often precipitous 150-foot elevation changes. It’s a beautiful course, often spectacular and always photogenic. This land once was mining country and the green at the par 5 twelfth with its buttressed shelf of exposed shale rock is a stark reminder of its former use.

    The Valley Course is a world of deep, silent lakes and for almost two miles it twists and turns as it follows the course of a narrow valley. The 18th hole, a dramatic, 441 yard par 4, nicknamed "The Assassin," more than lives up to its name as it rises to a exciting, but somewhat intimidating finish in front of Oxmoor’s signature clubhouse.

    The Short Course at Oxmoor Valley is an amazing, 18-hole par-3...MORE layout unlike any I’ve ever seen. Dramatic and often sever elevation changes means you’ll play almost every hole either uphill or downhill. The Short Course is listed by Golf Digest's Places to Play as one of the nation's Great Value courses.

    Green Fees: from $40 to $62;

    Reservations: call 1-800-949-4444

    Directions:

    From I-65 take the Lakeshore Drive Exit 255) and go West 3.5 miles. Turn left onto Shannon Wenonah Road and go 1.3 miles. The entrance is on the left.

    Contact:

    Oxmoor Valley Golf Course
    100 SunBelt Parkway
    Birmingham, AL 35211
    (205) 942-1177

    Visit the Oxmoor Valley Golf Course website

    Continue to 6 of 10 below.
  • 06 of 10

    Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort - AL

    Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort - AL
    ••• Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort - AL. Photo Courtesy of Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

    The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Ross Bridge is two miles from the RTJ complex at Oxmoor Valley. A huge, “American Gladiator” where 18 unique holes extend over more than 330 acres and a whopping 8,200 yards from the back tees. Ross Bridge is “big and brawny, yet inviting to golfers of all skill levels.”

    Ross Bridge meanders through indigenous parklands, skirting the 262-room Renaissance  RossBridge Golf Resort and Spa. Designed for tournament play, Ross Bridge is an old-word parkland course. Water is in play on 10 of the 18 holes. Two man-made lakes, a spectacular, 80-foot waterfall dropping 80 feet between the ninth and eighteenth greens, and gristmill added to the waterfall that reflects the history of this old mining site are just some of the spectacular features of this, in opinion, the queen of the Robert Trent Golf Trail. Each of the 18 holes is a beauty and challenge all its own. Ross Bridge is a course with 18 signature holes. The par 5 seventh, for instance, where the...MORE fairway crests the ridge high above the course, and the 487 yard par 4 eighteenth, with water along the entire right side and the waterfall between the ninth and eighteenth greens, which some say is the toughest and most beautiful finishing hole on the Trail. If you can play only one RTJ course, you must play Ross Bridge.

    Green Fees: from $90 to $125;

    Reservations: call 1-800-949-4444

    Directions:

    From I-65 take the Lakeshore Drive Exit 255) and go West 3.5 miles. Turn left onto Shannon Wenonah Road and go 1.3 miles. The entrance is on the left.

    Contact:

    Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Ross Bridge
    4000 Grand Avenue
    Birmingham, AL 35226
    (205) 949-3085

    Visit the Ross Bridge Website 

    Continue to 7 of 10 below.
  • 07 of 10

    Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Capitol Hill, Prattville/Montgomery, Alabama

    2nd at The Judge - Capitol Hill - Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - Prattville, AL
    ••• 2nd at The Judge - Capitol Hill - Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - Prattville, AL. Photo Copyright © Michael Clemmer - Licensed to RTJ Golf Trail

    The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Capitol Hill, Prattville, offers a rare feast of golf. Three championship courses, one the home to the LPGA’s Navistar Classic, will keep you busy for as long as you can stand it.

    The Senator, a traditional Scottish-style layout with more than 150 pot-hole bunkers across its 18 holes and, even more reminiscent of Scotland, grass-covered mounds 20 to 40 feet high dominate the landscape, cleverly hiding the cart path or any other hole from the fairway. The Senator's bent-grass greens provide exceptional conditions every month of the year. The Senator is home to the LPGA's Navistar Classic.

    The Legislator is a more traditional course. It meanders back and forth through the pine trees and along a bluff. Six holes are laid out in a native cypress swamp. At 7,417 yards, the Legislator is as tough as it is pretty.

    The Judge skirts the 200 acre glistening backwaters of the Alabama River. The first tee sits 200 feet above the fairway overlooking the...MORE Alabama River and the skyline of Montgomery; it’s a spectacular start to the round. Fourteen of the 18 holes are bounded by water providing some of the most spectacular scenery and golf holes in the world.

    Green Fees: from $40 to $74;

    Reservations: call 1-800-949-4444

    Directions:

    From I-65, take exit 179 and go west a half-mile mile to the second light. Turn left on Highway 82, travel a quarter-mile to the entrance on the left.

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    Contact:

    Capitol Hill Golf Course
    2600 Constitution Avenue
    Prattville, AL 36066
    (334) 285-1114

    Visit the Capitol Hill Golf Course website

    Continue to 8 of 10 below.
  • 08 of 10

    Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - Grand National - Auburn/Opelika, AL

    Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - Grand National - Auburn/Opelika, AL
    ••• Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - Grand National - Auburn/Opelika, AL. Photo Courtesy of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

    Grand National is claimed to be the single greatest site for a golf complex Robert Trent Jones, Sr. had ever seen. Thirty two of the 54 holes are built on shores of Lake Saugahatchee. The premier course in the complex is the Links, a tough course designed and built by the master almost without fault. The par-four 18th is thought by many to be the toughest finishing hole on the entire Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. Your drive must carry across a corner of the lake; the approach is played to a rock-bound, slightly elevated pedestal green. Club selection here is all-important.

    Grand National's Lake Course is perhaps the most scenic of the three courses. Water is in play on 12 of the 18 holes. The par 3s are as tough as they come: the 15th at 230 yards, with island green, is a rare spectacle and is, in my opinion, just as tough as the 17th at Sawgrass.

    The Short Course, and 18-hole par 3 course, is a shot-maker’s dream, and as beautiful a layout as you can ever imagine.

    Grand National has...MORE been the host site for such notable events as the 1997 Nike Tour Championship, 1998 LPGA Tournament of Champions, and the 2000 NCAA Men's Division I Golf Championship.

    Green Fees: from $40 to $62;

    Reservations: call 1-800-949-4444

    Directions:

    From I-85 take exit 58 at Opelika and go west on Hwy. 280 to Lee County 97 (Grand National Pkwy.) and go 3.5 miles to Robert Trent Jones Trail. Turn right onto Robert Trent Jones Trail and go 1 mile to the clubhouse.

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    Contact:

    Grand National Golf Course
    3000 Robert Trent Jones Trail
    Opelika, AL 36801
    (334) 749-9042

    Visit the Grand National Golf Course website

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Robert Trent Jones Trail at Cambrian Ridge - Greenville, Alabama

    Robert Trent Golf Trail at Cambrian Ridge, Greenville, AL
    ••• Robert Trent Golf Trail at Cambrian Ridge, Greenville, AL. Photo Courtesy of Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

    The 27 holes at The Robert Trent Jones Trail – Cambrian Ridge, Greenville – are laid out in a triple nine configuration that, together with the Short Course, offer enough golf to keep the average player going for a week, or more.

    The Loblolly nine, with its gently rolling fairways, tall old-growth pines and water-fronted greens, is somewhat reminiscent of Augusta National.

    The Canyon nine, carved from what once was some of Alabama’s prime hunting grounds, is a exciting layout of target-style golf. The first hole is a wild ride over a 501-yard par 4 that drops 200 feet from tee to fairway.

    The Sherling nine may be the best nine on the entire trail. The ninth hole, for instance, stretches straight uphill past a deep ravine strewn with boulders to a double green it shares with the ninth on the Canyon nine. Above this green, the clubhouse, the highest point in Butler county, serves up breathtaking views of Alabama’s Southern forest land.

    The Short Course is a marvelous collection of par three...MORE holes laid out beautifully between the ridge and Sherling lake.

    Green Fees: from $40 to $62;

    Reservations: call 1-800-949-4444

    Trail Weather:

    Alabama has blue skies and sunshine for most of the year, especially in the southern part of the state. Spring arrives early: mid-60s by March across the state. Summer: mid-80s. Winter: take a sweater or jacket.

    Directions:

    45 miles south of Montgomery: From I-65 take exit 130 in Greenville. Go Northwest for approximately 4 miles. Turn left onto Hwy. 44 and travel 1 mile. The entrance is on the right.

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    Contact:

    Cambrian Ridge Golf Course
    101 SunBelt Parkway
    Greenville, AL 36037
    (334) 382-9787

    Visit the Cambrian Ridge Golf Course website

    Continue to 10 of 10 below.
  • 10 of 10

    Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - The Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Point Clear, AL

    Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - The Grand Hotel Marriott
    ••• Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - The Grand Hotel Marriott, Resort, Golf Club & Spa, Point Clear, Alabama. Photo Courtesy of Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

    Lakewood Golf Club at The Grand Hotel Marriott, Resort, Golf Club & Spa has hosted President Gerald Ford, Dr. Billy Graham and Bob Hope, to name a few of the more famous players and, of course, me.

    Through renovations and hurricanes, the venerable old plantation with its live oaks and magnolias, beautiful beaches and exquisitely landscaped gardens, still remains one of the premier golf in the South.

    The Lakewood Golf Club at The Grand Hotel was built in 1947. The fairways are lined with 200-year old oaks and the signature hole - the par 5, 14th hole on the Azalea course - features an island green surrounded by a four-acre lake that demands an almost perfect approach shot. Lakewood was recently redesigned by Bobby Vaughan: the addition or expansion of ten water features over the span of the 36 holes has enhanced an already delightful layout.

    The two, 18-hole courses are open to Lakewood members and hotel guests. Of the two, the Dogwood course is perhaps the most forgiving; the Azalea,...MORE with its hair-raising par5 14th, is the more challenging. Tee selection – there are five sets of tees on each course - will make or break your round.

    Lakewood Golf Club has several times been named to Golf Magazine's Best Golf Resorts in America.

    Green Fees: from $90 to $125

    Reservations: call 1-800-949-4444

    Directions:

    Take I-10 east across Bay Bridge to Exit 35, Hwy 98. Go south on 98 for 8 miles. Bear right onto 98 Alt and go almost 6 miles then turn left onto Lakewood Drive and follow the signs.

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    Contact:

    Lakewood Golf Club
    One Grand Boulevard
    Point Clear, AL 36564
    (251) 990-6312

    Visit the Lakewood Golf Club website