The 'Golf Trip' Re-Re-Defined
Updated: Feb 14, 2019
Not all trips have a Golf Digest Top 100 Course on their itinerary and that’s OK in our book. We relish finding a hidden gem tucked away or an older venue lacking proper Instagram love. Sometimes, with careful planning, those finds can make a great golf trip. With that in mind, we’ll tip our hand to some trips we are planning or wanting to make happen. Hopefully they are worthy of the great ‘weekend golf trip’ title and hopefully we can help you figure out how to pull them off.
Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve thought about golf in Alabama. I feel the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail has been lost in the bevy of newer destinations, i.e Bandon, Streamsong, Sand Valley, etc. I know these places look great, but I’m tired of seeing how expensive they are in reality. I recently saw an email for a 2 night, 2 round deal at a prestigious resort and the starting price was $2295 per person.
That’s not how we roll. We find deals and use them.
The Trail was an unbelievably ambitious project and the fact that it was pulled off - and is still affordable - is remarkable. Right now on The Trail, it is $82 to play all day - range included. It’s time to bring some attention back to The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and get it on the forefront of golf’s collective mind.
Since we now have a growing social media following (thanks Mom!), let’s put this feature back on the map and see how we would go about doing it.
468 holes...26 courses...and 11 sites make for an ambitious plan. I doubt it would be completed in short order, but careful planning can help make the goal easier to attain. Considering many of us get one golf trip a year, this may be a long-term goal. However, we feel it can be done in six weekend trips.
Alright, so ‘weekend’ may be a misnomer. ‘Three-day weekend’ would be more accurate.
Take a look through the itineraries we’ve provided and see if you and your crew could make it work. We plan to delve in ourselves and can’t wait to say we’ve played them all. In fact, we feel if you finish The Trail, a significant acknowledgement should be bestowed upon you. I’m ready to petition the Alabama Ministry of Golf for some sort of official ‘Alabama Golf Czar’ or ‘Deputy of The Trail’ badge...or a championship belt at minimum. Bragging rites are fine, but some hardware would make completing The Trail that much sweeter.
How To Play The Trail
Trip #1 The Shoals/Hampton Cove - 3 full days 90 holes
Friday - Fly into Hunstville early, 30min to HC and play River and Short courses. 90 min drive to The Shoals at night.
Saturday - Play Fighting Joe and The Schoolmaster. "Tips to Teal Challenge"
Sunday - 90min drive back to HC and Play Highlands course 30 min to airport.
Scouting Report - The Shoals two courses, Fighting Joe and Schoolmaster, boast over 16,000 yards of golf from the tips. Just plain nuts. I consider myself, BMAC, to be a bit of a golf masochist and even I think that is extreme. I also can’t wait to play there but that’s my issue, not yours. White tees are 6,200 at each course for the more sane among us. We’d personally suggest the TTC, playing one ball from the Black tees and one from the Teal, if time permitted. It would be about a 6,000 yard difference between the tees over the 2 rounds. It’d be like playing 4 courses in one day. Hampton Cove has 3 courses aptly named Highlands, River and Short. Got to love the simplicity here, Short=18 par 3s. River=water on 16 holes. Highlands=High Land...I’m just assuming since I’ve never been, but seems to fit the trend.
Trip #2 Magnolia Grove/Lakewood - 3 full days 90/108 holes
Friday - Fly into Mobile early, 20min to MG and play Falls and Short courses.
Saturday - Drive to Lakewood, 60 min and play Azalea and Dogwood, drive back
Sunday - Play Crossings and possibly Spring Hill College Course*, Looks like a goat track so may be quick and about $25-30. 20min to airport.
Scouting Report - Magnolia Grove’s two big courses have been renovated within the last decade and its Short Course, aptly named, will give you another 18 chances at Hole-In-One glory. They used to have an LPGA tour stop on the The Crossings course as well as junior tournaments in the 90s where 'you know who' grinded away to finish in the back of the pack, questioning his life's choices on every step.
Trip #3 Ross Bridge/Oxmoor Valley - 3 full days 72/90+ holes
Friday - Fly into Birmingham early, 9:30am, drive to RB 30min. Play Ross Bridge, $200 to play all day.
Saturday - Play 2 Oxmoor courses, Ridge & Short. May find time for replay, 2 miles from RB.
Sunday - Play Valley and maybe catch Highland Park Golf Course* on way to Airport, $27 - home of Bobby Jones’ first victory.
Scouting Report - Ross Bridge is 8191 yards...Black Tees...8191...the good news: water is everywhere so the course rating of 87.2 seems legit. I may be exaggerating but a 78.1 rating is “tough” to say the least. Oxmoor’s Ridge has elevation in spades. Par 3 #8 has a 2 club downhill slant and advice to not be ‘long or short’...good luck. Luckily the Short course will give slightly better odds on your Hole-In-One dreams - So you got that going for you, which is nice. Valley has a few rail ties integrated throughout and is lacking descriptors like “Roller Coaster” and “devastatingly long” which may make it a relaxing experience and you may enjoy yourself. Best of luck.
Trip #4 Capitol Hill - Weekender 54+ holes
Saturday - Fly into Montgomery early, 30min to CH. Play Judge and Legislator.
Sunday - Play Senator, maybe an extra nine and head to airport.
Scouting Report - The Gem of The Trail, so to speak. The Judge was rated as #6 in state by Golf Digest...Enough said.
Trip #5 Highland Oaks/Cambrian Ridge - 3 days 72/81 holes
Friday - Fly into Montgomery early, drive to CR 50min and play Canyon and Loblolly nines. Drive to Dothan, 135min.
Saturday - Play 36 at Highland Oaks.
Sunday - Drive to CR and play Sherling and Short nines. Consider the Gateway Golf Course nine holer, 15min from airport.
Scouting Report - The Marshwood nine at Highland has a 700 yard par 5 but the other two ‘regulation length’ nines have been voted as a ‘Places to Play’ by Golf Digest. Cambrian Ridge also has 4 nines including a Short. Got to love that The Sherling nine starts at the highest point in Butler County** and I’d say Loblolly looks almost ‘Augustish’ via tour and satellite. I think we can all agree Augustish is a real word.
Trip #6 Grand National/Silver Lakes - 3 full days 90 holes
Friday - Fly into Montgomery early and drive to GN, 75min. Play Lake at GN and drive to SL, 135min.
Saturday - Play 36 and drive back
Sunday - Play 36 Links and Short at GN, drive to airport 75min.
Scouting Report - The Links course at Grand National boasts one of the best finishing holes on The Trail as well as ranking #7 in state. The Lake course has the 'old' Nos. 1/6 double green along with being ranked #9. All I see is water everywhere, even though it seems quite picturesque. Silver Lakes may lay claim to the best named courses in America with Backbreaker, Heartbreaker, Mindbreaker and...Short. Short only has water on 7 of 9 holes...so good luck with that.
So... where we going first?
*extra golf never hurts on the road to 1000.
**Not the only course to claim the highest county point. Mill Creek Golf Club in Churchville, NY has the highest point in Monroe County on the 10th tee box as well as its place on The Golf Crusade.