Good Alabama golf can be found outside of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail dominates the Alabama golf landscape.

The trail, comprised of an astounding 468 golf holes spread across 11 sites, has created a windfall of tourism development and synergy that never existed in Alabama before its creation in the 1990s.

Did you know there's plenty of great golf off the trail as well?

Almost all of the best non-trail courses form a ring around Birmingham, many designed by former 1976 U.S. Open winner Jerry Pate, a former University of Alabama golfer who used his "Roll Tide" connections to land some key golf construction projects in the state.

Here are the five best Alabama golf courses not on the well traveled RTJ Trail:

Farmlinks, located 50 miles southeast of Birmingham in rural Alabama, has blossomed into one of the more unique golf destinations in the Southeast over the past decade.

This former bull farm is no bull. It's quite good actually. The 7,444-yard golf course, designed by Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry in 2003, is not only beautiful but a living laboratory for the country's superintendents, who come to study the multiple grasses grown on the course.

FarmLinks, ranked no. 1 among public courses by Golfweek in 2013, charges a flat rate for all the golf you can play, all you can drink (non-alcoholic beverages) and lunch. Buddies who want to bond over fishing, hunting, clay shooting or golf can stay in the luxury cottages.

Kiva Dunes, Gulf Shores

When it opened in 1995 to national acclaim, Kiva Dunes launched Pate's design career. This 7,092-yard layout, at one time ranked among the top 100 public courses in the country by Golf Digest, combines scenery with strategic shot-making.

Going low is difficult on a wind-swept site close to the shore. Six holes hug a canal, including a rousing two-hole finish. No. 17, a long par 3, tends to play into the wind with the canal up the left side. The tough par-4 finishing hole turns back around playing downwind.

Guests of the West-Indian-themed resort can unwind at multiple pools, a restaurant or in their vacation rentals, some right on the pristine beach.

Pate added another ace with his Limestone Springs that opened in 1999. The 6,987-yard course rides ridges and runs through valleys across 225 acres 25 miles northeast of Birmingham.

Dramatic elevations provide some picturesque moments. Outcroppings of limestone, man-made ponds and streams keep things interesting during the round. Limestone Springs can easily be combined with golf at the RTJ Trail's Oxmoor Valley in Birmingham.

Sensing a theme here? Yep, Pate designed this 6,745-yard semiprivate course 34 miles south of Birmingham in 2002.

Its rolling land doesn't quite move the soul like Limestone Springs, but its hills and mounds do enhance a solid routing. Timberline is almost directly west of Farmlinks, although there's no way to cross the long and winding Coosa River, so it's a good hour's drive between the two rural golf clubs.

The Capstone Club, located 45 miles southwest of Birmingham, features a fine round of golf. Just be aware of two caveats. It closes in winter, so check the website for reopening dates. Most important to golfers: It won't serve alcohol on Sundays.

Golfers don't need liquor to enjoy its tranquil setting. Combine an affordable round on the 7,032-yard, par-71 course with a splurge stay-and-play at the nearby Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa in Hoover for a wonderful weekend of golf.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
0 Comments

Related Links

Mobile, Alabama might be best known for its love of college football -- it hosts a bowl game and an all-star game stocked with seniors with NFL dreams -- but there's much to love about this intriguing Southern city at the mouth of the Mobile Bay. It's home to the original Mardi Gras celebration, an eclectic mix of downtown restaurants and shops and some really good golf. An LPGA Tour venue highlights a versatile golf scene. Here are the five best places to play golf around Mobile.
3 Min Read
Picking a "best of" list among the 11 sites throughout Alabama on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is a tough task. There's really no bad choice, and 10 of the 11 have at least 36 holes. But our own Jason Scott Deegan picked a top 5. Here's the breakdown.
3 Min Read
Go to the Gulf for golf. It's as simple as that. Alabama's Gulf Shores along the Gulf of Mexico is one of America's best bargain golf destinations. This solid collection of courses stretches from Mobile to Pensacola, Fla., just across the state line. There's a top 100-caliber course at Kiva Dunes to anchor the trip, along with several other high quality resort-style layouts. Here are the five best places to play right in Gulf Shores.
2 Min Read
More from the author
3 Min Read
January 23, 2023
The new course will complement the redesigned Cabot Barrens and Cabot Oaks courses that will open in December north of Tampa.
5 Min Read
January 23, 2023
Chase the game's biggest events, plus a coveted collection of new and renovated courses, to experience your next great golf adventure.
4 Min Read
January 12, 2023
Course and resort renovations, technology advancements and more are waiting in Arizona's Sonoran desert in the Valley of the Sun.
3 Min Read
January 10, 2023
The January GolfPass Gear Report shares profiles of new TaylorMade, Callaway and Srixon drivers and woods, Cleveland Golf wedges and more.
6 Min Read
January 3, 2023
Former Best Buy CEO Richard Schulze is putting his heart AND wallet behind improving not only the resort but the island as well.
1 Min Read
December 19, 2022
From the destruction of a golf resort to an our annual 'top 100' list, these articles moved the needle for our discerning readers this year.
Popular
19 Images
January 3, 2023
Austin's a hub of innovation, and the perfect place to launch Driftwood, which feels like the country club of the future.
5 Min Read
January 17, 2023
Some golfers prioritize playing fast almost as much as playing well. These golf clubs kept things moving in 2022.
1 Min Read
January 17, 2023
Our community of reviewers showcase the best public golf courses in Pennsylvania.
By Golfers' Choice
1 Min Read
January 17, 2023
Our community of reviewers determine the Bluegrass State's top 20 golf courses.
By Golfers' Choice
Now Reading
Good Alabama golf can be found outside of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail