Birmingham Golf Guide
Golf's Beloved and Beautiful Badlands of Birmingham
By Mike May
When you travel to play Alabama's Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, one of the must-play venues is the Ridge Course at Oxmoor Valley, just outside Birmingham. It will be a true examination of your golf game and physical fitness. The Ridge was designed based on what Mother Nature provided and not what mankind wanted to create with a bulldozer. As the name of the course (Ridge) indicates, it has many elevation changes on nearly every hole. Another aspect of this course, which adds to its allure, is the distance from the cart paths to each putting surface. The short 'hikes,' often uphill, to the greens are one of the appealing aspects of this course. The greens are true destinations. And, being physically fit pays off at the Ridge.
"The Ridge course is, by far, the more popular layout here at Oxmoor Valley," says Anthony Land, director of golf at Oxmoor Valley. "The rolling terrain, large bent grass greens and scenic vistas certainly lend themselves to an incredible experience. It is truly a special course that many request on their return visit."
The greens at the Ridge are often bigger than what you normally expect elsewhere. If your approach to the green falls short and the pin is at the back of the green, a two-putt experience will be an adventure.
"When playing an approach shot, narrow your focus to the segment of the green you are trying to hit. Just the size of the greens can make your focus fuzzy and blurred. When you hit the correct segment, the ball will often feed towards the hole, so the rewards can be well worth the extra focus," says Neil Thompson, director of instruction, RTJ Academy of Golf at Oxmoor Valley.
One of the Ridge's big takeaways is the overall quality of its four par 5s. Some golf pundits have noted that the Ridge has the finest group of par 5s on the entire RTJ Golf Trail. I agree.
As expected, the Signature Hole at the Ridge is a par 5 - the 3rd hole. It is cleverly designed as your tee shot must be hit to a peninsula-like fairway. The green, off in the distance, is raised from the fairway and is supported by a shelf of exposed shale rock and a few railroad ties, a testimonial connection to Birmingham's historic links to the railroad industry.
Another memorable hole is the 8th - a downhill par 3. Here, the tee shot must carry a pond. Because of its downhill nature, you don't need as much club as the distance would normally indicate. This is a fun hole to play as you watch a well-struck tee shot go pin-seeking. A hole-in-one is always possible.
While the 14th is listed as less than 400 yards from the back tees, this par 4 is deceptively long. From the outset, your tee shot must finish to the right of the 150 yard marker. Avoid the three fairway bunkers along the left side at all costs. For your approach shot to a slightly raised green, which is quite deep, make sure that you add a club. If the pin is perched at the back and your ball stops at the front of the green, three or four putts become likely!
Overall, the Ridge is for passionate golfers who can appreciate the efforts of the course's design team which has built a golf experience that will create an indelible memory for those who decide to play on what should be considered the 'Beautiful Badlands of Birmingham.'
Revised: 09/27/2015 - Article Viewed 30,808 Times
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About: Mike May
Mike May is a Wellington, Florida-based freelance golf and sportswriter, who is also a 25+ year public relations and communications executive in the sporting goods industry. He is also a veteran high school soccer official, an experienced high school basketball coach, an avid athlete, a part-time personal trainer, and a passionate golfer who is forever in pursuit of Old Man Par. He is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America.
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