Country Club of Birmingham believes it’s the only course to feature the work of Donald Ross, Robert Trent Jones and Pete Dye. The routing is Ross’s work and has changed little. The Donald Ross Society visited recently and Society President John Butler declared it the finest Ross routing he’d seen. When pressed as to why, he pointed out that “you go by the snack shack twice in the first nine holes.” There are, however, other less whimsical reasons to like Ross’s routing. There are few parallel holes and the ones that exist are so different as to be quite memorable. And the holes flow along quite naturally with never a question as to where the next tee is located.
Jones’s contribution was blowing up all of Ross’s greens and elevating them. When Dye arrived in 1984, the first thing he did was jump on an excavator and dig down through the 18th green to find Ross’s original green level. He repeated this move 17 times, but his objective was renovation, not restoration and today’s greens are Dye’s ellipticals rather than Ross’s square ones. The greens are nicely contoured, however—reminiscent of Ross’s work in that aspect. Dye also added mounding around many of the greens, most quite sizeable……as high as 15 feet. This writer found those features overused. Comparing drawings of Ross’s original work to the current version also shows that the strategic challenge from the tee was more present in the original.
Date: April 25, 2016