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Ross Bridge Golf Course – Sweet “Golf” Home Alabama

ross bridge

Until the next time we grace this lovely part of northern Alabama, our breakfast with farewells to Lasha and Carlos and the spectacular morning start at the Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa was déjà vu all over again.

The first of our jaw dropping moments teeing off on the Par 5 first hole

We made the very easy and stress free 2-hour drive south to Ross Bridge Golf Course outside of Birmingham. This is one of the very few Robert Trent Jones Trail facilities which is a standalone 18-hole layout. And oh, what a layout it is.

The approach view uphill to the first green

If the surrounding subdivisions of beautiful homes were be an indicator of what we were to expect as we drove in, this was going to be very special.  When Larry, one of the attendants at the bag drop at Ross Bridge said “Welcome to the Cadillac of courses on the Trail” he must not of known what a Rolls-Royce was.  As we climbed a short stairway up to what can be described as a traditional, classic style pro shop we soon forgot how cold and chilly it was today.

A peekaboo view downhill to the green on the world class Par 4 2nd hole

Director of Golf, Chip Purser, led me to his office to exchange business cards  where we also engaged in some lighthearted conversations related to the memorabilia and collectables within his office. Originally from Binghamptom, N.Y., of course we had to talk a little about hockey.

The view out past the second green

We grabbed a couple of hot drinks and a sandwich lunch.  After a very short attempt at warming up our bodies on the driving range, which looked as good as any golf course you would want to play, we proceeded to the first tee. There former US Air Force pilot and Starter, Jay Lutenbacher, gave us an overview of the procedure and on this wet and cool day apologized that we had to incorporate the path only rule with our power cart. Eventually, we got to get closer to our ball.

A great long look down the fairway on the 5th

Later in the round the GPS feature on the cart informed us that we could now move the carts onto the course if we kept them in the rough areas only.

That helped reduce the back-and-forth from the ball to the cart which significantly  made playing this expansive course less arduous.

Lovely and straight forward the Par 4 8th

Now it is time for me to do a little name dropping; well at least golf course name dropping. Carnoustie, KingsBarns, Royal Dornach, Wentworth, Tryall Golf Club in Jamaica,Bali Golf and C.C., Karstjen Golf Club in the Czech Republic, Royal Denerau in Nandi, Fiji, Pumpkin Ridge, Couere D’Alene GC, Aviara GC and from my own homeland of Canada, Jasper Park Lodge and Banff Springs.

There is no particular order to the aforementioned golf courses as far as which one is my favorite or the best, but insert Ross Bridge in there.

Marvel at the backdrop waterfall but just stay away from it on the 9th

If it was a list of my favorites then start with Kingsbarns in Fife, Scotland, Banff Springs in Alberta, Canada and the bronze medal goes to…… Ross Bridge Golf Course. The rest can follow in any order and there are probably 25-30 more of that ilk I have played globally.

Shhhhh just enjoy

Before the days of technology and digital photography photographers used to tell each other “bring an extra roll”. It related to film not toilet paper and was a metaphor how good the scenery or the subject matter was going to be at an upcoming shoot.

Looking back across the 15th fairway over to the group on the Par 3 14th green

In this case I stopped taking photographs after 40 pictures were taken.  The layout and the topography in the Shannon Valley where Ross Bridge GC is situated combined with the quality of design and the overall gold standard of maintenance is in my opinion as good as it can possibly get anywhere in the world. The greens for instance not only were massive but smooth and as true a surface I have ever putted on. On shots I didn’t hit close there were 2 putts from over 80 feet in length.

This golf course is simply spectacular, no other words need to be included or to augment the description of playing here. Weather permitting I could play this course 365 days a year and never once yawn or tire from playing it.

There is not one boring or plain Jane hole on the course and there are so many stunning views from the tee boxes and approaches that I am going to just let the extra photos I have added do the talking.

Even as chilly as it was out this course brought out the best in both Myra and I and for only the second time in her short golfing life she broke 50 with a great 49 on the front nine made possible by parring both the eighth and ninth par 4’s.

If I would have done the same on those two holes I would be boasting a very good 39 but a lip out on nine resulted in a solid 40 then 42 on the back for a very pleasing round of 82.

Even though Myra’s back nine ballooned a little for her to shoot 109 on a course of this pedigree in really cool conditions and I’m talking temperature wise here, is something she could be very proud of. We have travelled 2700 miles to come and play many courses on The Trail and I could honestly say I would travel 2700 miles to come back just to play Ross Bridge alone.

From the white tee boxes a look over the lake to the 18th green

We each rewarded each other in the pro shop after the round Myra picking out a very sharp looking royal blue and black golf shirt and me I picked out a large towel with all the trail courses listed on it that I am going to convert into a wall hanging for my office. Rodney was most helpful with the sale and also we enjoyed expressing our glee with the golf course and letting him know that in our part world on Vancouver Island he and his wife would be very welcome and happy there as travelling visitors.

Just look at that bunker configuration in from of the magnificent 18th green

Ross Bridge can be summed up by the very typical millennial expression shortened to three letters “OMG”.

I think both of us said it each time we stood on every tee box also each time we approached every green.  Wow, wow, triple wow.

 

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Bill Flower

Bill Flower is a passionate golfer and lover of the game who lives on Vancouver Island in Parksville, BC. He has played the game since the age of 10 and has spent many years in the golf business ranging from full time teaching pro to part time professional caddy, golf tour operator and golf writer. He loves to travel with his wife Myra up and down the west coast of the US playing and reviewing golf courses of all styles.

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