An epic Southern fried golf road trip
Oxmoor Valley is just five minutes from Ross Bridge, but has a completely different atmosphere. With dramatic 150ft elevation changes on the Ridge course and an 18th hole named “the Assassin” on the Valley course below, Oxmoor gets you high and low. There is an 18-hole short course — just 3,360 yards versus 6,527 on the Ridge — too. When you are done, drive two-and-a-half hours southeast for some real pit barbecue (tip: if it ain’t pit smoked, it ain’t barbecue) at Byron’s Smoke House in Auburn. The classic chipped pork sandwich with fried potato slices, a side of Brunswick stew and a big, cold glass of sweet tea will set you back about $10. Check into the nearby Auburn Marriott Opelika Hotel at Grand National and get some rest — you have earned it.
Jones reportedly called the 600-acre Lake Saugahatchee at Grand National the greatest site for golf he had ever seen. The Lake course has 12 holes on the lake while the Links course forces players to drive over the lake to reach the green on 18. Both courses are on Golf Digest magazine’s venerated list of the top 50 public courses in the country. When you are done, pack it up and drive 60 miles to the state capital, Montgomery. Check into the Montgomery Marriott Prattville Hotel and Conference Center at Capitol Hill, 13 miles outside of town and dine at Martin’s Restaurant for their authentic, artery-clogging Southern fried chicken.
Capitol Hill, on the Marriott Prattville grounds, is nearly three square miles of golf courses , including the Judge, one of a handful of public courses Golf Magazine deemed worthy of the opportunity of hosting the US Open. The first tee soars 200 feet above the fairway and there is an island hole on 16. Jones built a big green here as a target, but the wind can make it tricky to land your ball safely aboard. If you have the time and the fortitude, the Senator will give you one last kick in the teeth with 160 of the small, treacherous pot-hole sand trap bunkers Jones used to punish inaccurate shot placement.
Once you have had all the fun you can stand, it is only a 90 minute drive up I-65 back to the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport for your flight home.