Long Haul - Ross Bridge, Alabama

Going Long
ross bridge
Another very long hole at Ross Bridge.
Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood and the interesting guy from the Dos Equis ads may have me beat for pure, brooding maleness, but I’m still a guy. I take the trash out, drink beer, and loath the romantic comedies my wife thinks are cute. When it comes to golf though, I have absolutely no problem whatsoever hitting from the Whites, or whatever color the tees are that set the course somewhere between 6,000 and 6,500 yards. I don’t understand folk who go all the way back to the tips and endure what more often than not turns into an unnecessarily grueling day. Hitting hybrids and 3-woods into the green becomes tiresome about midway through the front nine, and just sucks all the fun out of the round.
There was this one time, however, when I decided to ‘play the whole course’.
While visiting Birmingham, Ala. about five years ago, I was told of a course that might be worth playing as it hosted an event on the Champions Tour. Ross Bridge was its name and, as part of the Robert Trent Jones Trail, I knew it would be both affordable and in good condition.
An hour or so before the tee-time, the pro, a guy named Chip Purser, mentioned that the course would be quiet and that he didn’t have much on. I asked him to join me and, smiling, he suggested we play from the back tees. It was his course and, like a good Southern gentleman, he had been very welcoming. I said sure.
Somewhere between the pro shop and the 1st tee, Chip mentioned the back tees stretched the course to 8,191 yards, with one Par 5 measuring 698 yards, two Par 4s exceeding 500 yards, and the longest of the Par 3s reaching 239 yards. He gave me the option to reconsider but, like an idiot, I said what the heck.
The opener was 620 yards long and after three early morning, but acceptable, swipes with metal-headed woods, I eventually caught sight of the green. I was exhausted by the turn which I reached in an undisclosed number of shots.
On the last, Chip laughed and admitted I might actually be the first visitor to play all 18 holes from the tips because “no one had been stupid enough to try it yet”. I sort of got the joke.
It took a few days to overcome the aches and pains that resulted from taking Ross Bridge on from such an absurd distance, but I was able at last to reflect on what a beautiful course it was and how enjoyable it might have been from the Whites at 6,200 yards, or maybe even the Oranges at 6,783.
Ross Bridge opened in 2005, and was actually designed by Roger Rulewich, Jones’s protégé who went on to become his principal design associate before Jones passed away in June of 2000. The course sits adjacent to the magnificent 259-room Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa, about an hour west of the Talladega Superspeedway.
You definitely want to experience the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at some point in your life, and you definitely want to include Ross Bridge on your itinerary. What you definitely don’t want to do though is listen to anyone, no matter how hospitable, who suggests you might like to try the course from the Blacks.



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