RTJ Trail


#1

So I’m already looking at next year’s golf trip, probably late April over Spring Break (majority educators).

It will be year #5 and we’ve done Myrtle 3 times and Pinehurst area once. Both of those are really convenient location wise from just west of Charlotte. (couple guys fly in from NJ)

In looking at options and thinking maybe a little different, does anyone have experience with the RTJ Trail, specifically Hamtpons Cove? It’s about a 6 hour drive that also takes you within a 10 minute detour of Sweeten’s on the way there or back (umm…yes please)

We’re all mid/high handicappers in our 30s/40s that love golf and enjoy few beers and a good time.

Any feedback would be appreciated.


#2

I have not played any of the trail courses, but if you end up doing that trip, do whatever it takes to play at least 18 or more at Sweetens. Sacrifice any of the other courses for it. You will not be disappointed.


#3

That’s definitely my idea. That’s the main reason for asking about Hampton’s Cove specifically. It’s the closest in proximity to Sweeten’s and doesn’t even take us in the wrong direction.


#4

Would love to hear about any trips, plans, etc. for the RTJ trail. Have been wanting to do it at some point, don’t even know where I would start on my planning though.


#5

Sewanee is 20 minutes from Sweetens. Another awesome 9 hole course where you should play at least 18.


#6

I’ve played RTJ Grand National in Opelika, just outside of Auburn. It was in really good shape. They used to host the Barbasol Championship there.

I also stayed at the Renaissance Ross Bridge 2 years ago. The hotel and resort is really nice and we could see the course from our room. Didn’t get to play, but it looked to be in great shape.


#7

I’ve played at 3 of the courses on the trail.

Grand National - played the lakes and the links courses . Didn’t stay at the hotel as this location is only 15 minutes from my grandparents farm just outside Opelika. We have hosted family events at the hotel and Its really nice on that front.

Capitol Hill - played the Judge course and stayed at the mariott which overlooks the links course I can’t think of its name but very nice hotel.

Ross Bridge - BEAUTIFUL course ! One of the most well maintained I’ve ever played .

Greens fees were never outrageous and well worth it partly because we purchased a trail pass which I would definitely do if you desire playing more than 1 trail course .


#8

I’ve played a few of the courses on the Trail. I really enjoyed the Capitol courses (Prattville). Sweetens is a must play obvi. Have you thought about heading down to Streamsong?


#9

I’ve thought about a lot of places, Streamsong included, but we lowly educators can’t afford something that nice…haha

RTJ is easily accessible from NC and it’s different than Myrtle which has been our go to trip in the past. I’m also open to other suggestions if the group has any.

Thanks for the replies so far.


#10

I’ve played most of the courses on the Trail. I love the concept of the RTJ Trail, but in execution, the tracks get repetitive pretty quickly. I haven’t played one yet that wasn’t at least OK, but from course to course, the variety of holes is rarely impressive. It’s certainly not on the level of the Pinehurst area, but again, it’s not a dud in waiting.

If you’re gonna do it, then the Capitol Hill site outside Montgomery is excellent (especially the Judge course). Both tracks at the Oxmoor Valley site near Birmingham are solid too. I would avoid Ross Bridge — the rack rate is wildly overpriced, and the land up the street at Oxmoor is vastly superior.


#11

I just finished a weekend in Birmingham playing a couple of the RTJ tracks as well as Farmlinks at Pursell Farms. My dad and I flew out there just for the weekend to play some relatively inexpensive golf. I would recommend the trip just because you can get to some good golf without having to change hotels.

We played Oxmoor-Ridge and Farmlinks day one. I got ejected at Ridge, so my opinion of that course is a little clouded. It’s a tight track, but has some good holes. Farmlinks though was my favorite course on the trip. I would highly recommend getting out to this track. Fun and scenic par 3s. It’s about an hour and 20 minutes from Birmingham, but well worth it. You could really spend a day out there and play the course twice.

Day two we played Ross Bridge and Oxmoor-Valley. Ross Bridge was the most beautiful course on the trip. Lots of undulation and excellent condition (for July in AL). We bought one of the RTJ Packages to play a couple courses, so prices weren’t too bad here. Oxmoor-Valley was a fun course too. It was a bit wider than the Ridge course, so I felt it was more playable for us high handicappers.


#12

I played the ones down in Montgomery, “Capital Hill”.

Good courses. I like them.


#13

I’ve played most of the trail, and you really can’t go wrong. I would agree with above that the types of holes can certainly get repetitive at times, but they’re always in great shape and the value is unparalleled.

At Hampton Cove, I think I prefer the Highlands course to the River, but again, splitting hairs. The best part is you can go into the clubhouse, load up a 6-pack of bud lights, and they will personally pack the cooler for you, making sure you have plenty of ice…until you’re back 9 holes later to ‘re-load’…


#14

I’ve played at least 80% of the courses. Don’t sleep on Cambrian Ridge in Greenville. It’s about an hour south of Montgomery on 65.

Also, I agree with @Haymart. Farmlinks is an awesome course and property. They have recently added more rooms, so you could definitely spend a weekend there.


#15

I’ve played several of the courses. I think Ross Bridge is underrated actually. It’s a blast to play. The quintessential “big ballpark”, but you truly do hit every club in the bag. It’s a bit gimmicky with the waterfall features, etc, but by and large I think it is my favorite of those I have played, slightly ahead of the Lake course at Grand National.

Of the two courses at Oxmoor Valley, I preferred the Ridge over the Valley, but did not find either to be particularly memorable.

I really do not care for the Judge. It’s brutally difficult. While dramatic, a lot of the holes seemed forced to me. The 18th is an absolutely terrible golf hole; in my opinion. It was kind of a weird round for me (played it solo in roughly 2.5 hours at the crack of dawn before a late morning work appointment in Montgomery), but I really don’t believe that’s what left a poor taste in my mouth.

In all, the RTJ Trail is a great concept. It provides for accessible public golf at a very affordable price point. The courses challenge the better player. However, I can’t imagine a 15 handicap player enjoying themselves at many of the courses.


#16

I’ve played the majority of the courses on the trial and agree that it’s a great value relative to almost any other destination.

I haven’t heard it mentioned yet but Muscle Shoals was one of the best venues on the trail. Probably the most isolated up on the Tennessee border but worth the trek. Capitol Hill is probably the center of the trail and close to Oxmoor/Ross Bridge. Agree that the Judge is brutally hard but the other two courses there are a good change up especially the Senator which almost has no trees and used to play a LPGA event there. If you are looking to play more than 18 a day, the trail is perfect.

Cambrian Ridge as one of the other posters mentioned is not to be overlooked. Unfortunately because it is pretty remote (south of Montgomery), I’m not sure if they are spending the money they used to maintain it. Of course, that could have changed as it’s been several years since I’ve played there. Good luck! Many great memories of the RTJ trail from my 20s and early 30s!