There are few place that I really want to keep revisiting to play golf as much as Alabama and in particular any of the magnificent courses on the Robert Trent Jones Trail.
This amazing collection of eleven different golf properties which span the entire state are, in my opinion, the singularly best managed and laid out golf courses under one umbrella in the Unites States and perhaps the entire globe. 1992 was the inaugural year of the then seven RTJ Trail sites and I escorted a group of sixteen golfers from Canada for a one-week golf holiday to these amazing courses. It impacted me so much, that anytime someone asked for advice on where to take a golf holiday, it was one of the first places I would mention and detail its benefits and features.
In 2017, the Silver Anniversary of “The Trail”, Myra and I played seven straight days of golf on four different Trail sites. They are all outstanding. You can see the reviews of all seven by going to Course Reviews on the home page and scrolling down to Alabama. As we were coming from the north into Alabama, we exited the state at Auburn, not venturing down to the southern part of Alabama as we have this time to Mobile. We have rented an amazing 150-year-old home in the Oakleigh Historical District of Mobile. This central location means that we will travel less than 30 minutes each day to the two different sites we will be reviewing, both containing 36 holes of stunning golf.
On this day, the forecast temperature was a very comfortable 63F and sunny with a light wind. It was one of many key ingredients in a highly rewarding day playing the Crossings course at Magnolia Grove. Twenty-seven years came back to me, not in a flood of memories but rather a slow trickle of familiarity. Magnolia Grove was Days 1 and 2 of that testosterone laced guys trip back in 1992. The grounds, the clubhouse, the driving range and practice green are all very inviting, well organized and impeccable. After young Sara, in the pro shop, had greeted us and supplied us with a range token, Sam one of the many young strapping lads you’ll see working at a Trail course assisted us in loading up our clubs.
It’s highly unlikely most golfers need an introduction to the Director of Golf, but for me it was welcome surprise when the very friendly Paul Martino popped out to the range and introduced himself to Myra and me. It’s not often you will meet someone in Paul’s position that has a tenure of some 20 years at one location. Paul view is very rewarding for golfers as he told us that at Magnolia Grove there is an emphasis on fun and good times. Paul escorted us back up towards the first tee and handed us off to starter Steve Wilson, a fine gentleman who had spent some time very close to our home on Vancouver Island.
Paul had told us that on Saturday by about 11 am college football takes over the south so it was understandable that not only did the course appear quiet, but Steve the starter told us we need not rush away from him too quickly. It was enjoyable to be put at such ease. Standing on the first tee, sun warming my face and my beautiful wife close by I exhaled and turned to her and said, “This is one of my favorite spots in all of America”. I then ripped a 260 yard drive down the middle of the fairway, I wasn’t looking for a Zen moment. Although this was Myra’s first time at Magnolia Grove, she recognized many of the RT Jones design styles from other Trail sites. The meandering fairways, beautiful sprawling bunkers, large fair greens.
Please note: The photos are ones taken by Bill and Myra Flower on the day of play to show current playing conditions. We rarely use stock photos provided by the golf course or marketing team. This to ensure accuracy and the realism of playing the course on the actual day of the review. November 2nd 2019.
As we progressed through the course and came up to another new hole, I would excitedly tell Myra that I remembered many holes; especially the par 4 5th, the outstanding par 5 6th as it climbs to the rising green, over the water to the par 3 14th with its covered bridge and the pinnacle of all holes the Par 4 18th . As Myra and I moved through the course, I could actually remember not only some of the holes I had played but where my shots had landed. Recent heavy rains had washed away the sand from the edge of many bunkers so on this sunny day 6 members of course superintendent Jason Crooms’ hard working talented team were busy moving the sand back into place.
The renovations designed to make the course less demanding and player friendly included the additions of several ponds and the addition of waste bunkers using crushed oyster shells. I was in one of them and although I never order oysters when dining out I’ll gladly include them in a future golf round, as I extricated my ball from the one on the Par 5 17th beautifully. It’s funny how you can forget what you had for lunch the day before, the name of a life-long friend or words to your favorite song, but a patch of land that is a golf hole comes rushing back into your mind like a summer wind. We cruised around the course in exactly 4 hours, highlighted by Myra and I both parring the Par 5 4th hole and my own tap in birdie 2 holes later on the Par 5 6th hole.
The beautiful pine trees and the smattering of magnolia trees with their large glistening leaves frame every hole and white sugar sand bunkers reflect the sun brightly. Your golfing day will be exquisite. Just choose as we did; a course with true southern character and welcoming folks like all those at the delightfully rewarding Magnolia Grove in Mobile, Alabama.
www.rtjgolf.com (251) 645 0075