Like many of the states in the southeastern part of the country, Alabama is a state that boasts beautiful golf courses and weather that allows you to play them year round. It is the home of the prestigious Robert Trent Jones trail of golf courses. The RTJ trail features 11 championship level courses (some of which are mentioned below) and is something that should be on every golfer’s bucket list.
As you’re thinking about where you want to begin your south east golfing journey, here are five Alabama golf course you need to play.
Best Private Course: Shoal Creek
While some might argue that Birmingham Country Club is the pride of Alabama, Shoal Creek comes out on top as the best course in the state. This beautiful golf course has played host to some of the most memorable major golf tournaments of the last half century and has an impressive resume ranging from U.S. Opens, to PGA Championships and more.
The course begins with a fairly straightforward par 4 that is one of the easier holes on the course. Still, the fairway is a narrow corridor with trees on both sides and require a straight tee shot. Things get more challenging on the second hole, which is a dog leg right and has a green hidden from the tee box.
On the back nine things kick off with another par 4, this one with a three tiered green that can be very tricky. The course finishes with a gorgeous hole replete with green side bunkers and water. Throughout, the well trimmed fairways, tee boxes, and rough, give off an elegance unparalleled in the state. The layout of the course is exquisite and makes great use of its natural surroundings.
Shoal Creek is 7400 from the tips and is a regulation par 72. If you get the to play this unforgettable track, consider yourself lucky. Shoal Creek is a private course and invitation only.
Best Public Course: Capitol Hill—The Judge (RTJ)
One of the highlights of Alabama golf is the Robert Trent Jones trail and the eleven courses that make it what it is. The Judge Course at Capitol Hill is the first of these courses on the list and the one that is the best overall (though the Legislator and Senator courses are nothing to scoff at).
This picturesque course starts with the absolute best hole on the entire trail. The first hole at the Judge drops off immediately from the tee box and continues down to a green situated neatly next to the Alabama River. It is one of the most majestic holes you could ever hope to play.
The course stays close to the river’s edge through to the end and is one of the most beautiful in the state and perhaps the entire south east.
The Judge is ultra deep from the blacks, playing at 7813 yards and is a par 72.
Perhaps the best part of the RTJ trail is its prices. You can play at this premier venue for around $65.
Most Scenic Course: Lake Course at Grand National (RTJ)
Built on the scenic Lake Saugahatchee, the Lake Course at Grand National is an even more stunningly beautiful course than the Judge at Capitol Hill.
Mammoth sand traps surround many of the course’s greens which also butt up against the lake. Rolling fairways define the course and the many trees give off a quaint feel.
The par 3 15th is the signature hole on the course and it is a real beauty. A precise tee shot over an inlet of the lake onto a peninsular green is required in order to keep your ball dry.
Of all the courses on the RTJ trail, this is by far the most dazzling and will make you want to come back for more.
The Lake Course at Grand National is more forgiving than the Judge at Capitol Hill and is only 7289 yards and is a par 72.
Like the other courses on the trail, you can play this brilliant track for around $65.
Most Challenging Course: Kiva Dunes
Kiva Dunes gives off a coastal feel and is one of the best courses in the state. It is also one of the most challenging. This daunting track features long, sprawling bunkers and water on nearly every hole.
In order to score well you will have to make sure you focus on accuracy and keep your ball from wandering too far to the side either way.
The optimal landing area on the first hole bottlenecks as water faces you on the right and sand and trees on the left. The fairway narrows again on two, and quickly the theme for the course is set.
From the tips, Kiva Dunes plays at 7092 yards and is a par 72.
The course uses a dynamic pricing model that takes into account time of day and demand and can range significantly. Check before you go to see what kind of a rate you can snag.
Best Value Course on a Budget: Gunther’s Landing
Located in Guntersville, Gunter’s Landing is one of the best deals in Alabama and the last of the must play Alabama courses to make the list.
This phenomenal track features winding, shapely fairways, carved in between tall, stately oaks. The foliage is lush and the greens are immaculate. From tee to green the course is nearly flawless.
Gunther’s Landing is no pushover either with plenty of challenge shots and a layout that puts a premium on solitude. Because of the many twists and turns, seeing another group on the course is a rarity.
From the gold tees, Gunther’s Landing is 6864 yards and is a par 72.
This course is the best deal for a reason. You can play one of the most thoughtfully crafted courses in the state for as low as $35 after 3 pm.
Known for its rich tradition and Robert Trent Jones trail, Alabama is a great place to hit the links. You can go any time of year and experience some of the best courses in the region for prices that won’t break the bank. Happy golfing.
Did we miss a course? Share your Alabama golfing stories in the comments below.