The Robert Trent Jones (RTJ) Golf Trail in Alabama has been on my "To Do" list for many years. 2016 would be the year that we would finally pull the trigger on the trail.
Widely known as the greatest value in golf, the RTJ Golf Trail consists of 11 locations across the state of Alabama. All together there are 26 golf courses and 468 golf holes. Although the desire to play all 468 holes was there, we would only play 144 of them.
Before we tackled the trail, we decided to get in a warm up round at Tom Fazio's Old Overton. It was no problem warming up as the temperature was around 90 degrees.
After the initial golf/sweat fest at Old Overton, our numbers increased to 5 as we took on our first RTJ Trail course at Ross Bridge. Because of the heat, we were one of the only groups on the course and we decided to play as a five some.
After the initial 18 at Ross Bridge, the trip really began to pick up some steam as we headed down the road to play Oxmoor Valley's Ridge course. We also picked up 2 additional golfers and became a force to be reckoned with on The Trail.
We would play the front nine on the Ridge Course twice to bring the day's hole count to 45. I would also set several personal records for most birdies in a single day with 8 and most gallons sweated in a 12 hour period with 5.
With the golf crew in full force we headed out for another day of 45 holes of golf at Capitol Hill. It would be a day of government officials as we took on The Judge, The Senator, and finally, The Legislator.
Not everyone would make the full 45 holes. We would lose 2 golfers after 36 stating that things were getting "Too political" Others would argue that the highlight of the day was the banana pudding between 18's. Everyone would agree that the opening hole on The Judge was awesome.
Be sure to click on the course links to view more photos.
The trigger that inspired the visit to the south was actually the beginning of the 2015 NCAA College Football season. In addition to golfing like fiends, we would be attending the Auburn Clemson game in Auburn.
After a day of 18 holes at Grand National's Lake course, we set out to tailgate hard and then get our College Football kickoff on. This would be my first SEC football experience and I would not be disappointed. The tailgators ate and drank like linebackers, the fans cheered as if their hair was on fire, and we joined right in.
Clemson would emerge victorious but they would not cover the spread, which was bad news for the majority of our gang. To ease the pain, we retired back to our local Days Inn accomodations and played frisbee in the parking lot.
The next morning the golf would continue with another day of 36 holes at Grand National. The Links course was rumoured to be one of the toughest tests of golf on the trail and we wanted a piece of the action.
In the "Shot of the Trip" Nik Divakaruni would hole out from 150 yards for birdie on the 12th hole. Nik would attempt to purchase the entire beverage cart in celebration. I would join in the golf party by playing one of my better rounds of the year and carding a 72 after a rousing birdie on 18.
We took off our shoes to feel the bermuda on our toes and work on our sock tan lines. Captain Joe Garvey even went shirtless for 6 holes. Just as darkness overtook the course, we finished up on 18. Unfortunately, we would leave Alabama before the sun would rise on the RTJ Golf Trail again. With 324 holes remaining to be played, a return trip is in order.