Tuesday, June 10, 2008


“Flog” being, of course, an anagram for “Golf.”

Fighting Joe #18

The sun sets beyond the 18th green of the Fighting Joe course at the Shoals.

This Thursday just past, the Usual Gang of Idiots Suburban Sportsmen headed out for our annual visit to the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. The Trail consists of eleven separate locations in Alabama, comprising 26 courses - a total of 468 holes. Say what you will about the State of Alabama, but ya gotta give ’em credit for coming up with the idea for the Trail. It’s a first rate attraction, serving not only as a powerful tourist destination, but as an incentive for businesses to relocate to the state. And it’s operated by the Retirement Systems of Alabama, so while you play golf you are, at the same time, ensuring that superannuated Alabama state employees need not subsist on a diet of Cheez Whiz and Tender Vittles.

Prior trips have taken us to the Grand National in Opelika and Capitol Hill in Prattville (just north of Montgomery). This year, we attacked the Shoals (in Muscle Shoals, way up in the northwest corner of the state), then moved down to the Birmingham area to hit Oxmoor Valley and Ross Bridge. Oxmoor Valley was the first of the Trail locations; Ross Bridge the most recent - so we managed to span the entire history of the Trail in a single two-day period.

It’s a Golfy Marathon: 36 holes the first day, 36 the second day, and a single round of 18 the third (and final) day. That’s ninety holes. In three days.

On Friday, we played the Schoolmaster and Fighting Joe courses at the Shoals. The Schoolmaster is named for none other than good old Mr. Wilson...Woodrow Wilson, that is, who, as President, was nicknamed the Schoolmaster owing to his prior history as president of a Familiar University. And, indeed, we were Schooled by the Schoolmaster...after which Fighting Joe (a Scottish links-style layout) put the nail in the coffin.

Saturday had us at Oxmoor Valley, where we played the Valley course in the morning and the Ridge course in the hot, steamy afternoon. The Ridge, especially, was a challenge every inch of the way, requiring precise tee shots to relatively small landing areas. Wayward shots - assuming you could find ’em - would end up in all sorts of bizarrely-sloped lies. Yeef.

Sunday morning, we played at the Trail’s newest addition, Ross Bridge. Gorgeous course...with gorilla-grass rough that would gulp golf balls like a gimme-cap Gomer gulps Mountain Dew. But I managed to finish it. Sore and weary and overheated...and strangely happy, despite a score that would cause a Tiger Woods to shit a blood clot.

We’ll be back next year, although there is a developing consensus that we oughta maybe not play 36 holes a day. On Day Two, anyway.

More pics below the fold.

Golfy Boyz

A few of my Partners in Crime: Houston Steve, Gary F., and Lee B.

Waterfall at Ross Bridge

A waterfall and mill house at Ross Bridge, the Trail’s newest course.

Swing Tryptich

Elisson gets a taste of the Elusive Acorn.

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