The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is one of the largest golf projects ever undertaken, extending to 26 courses and 468 holes, spread over 11 different sites in the Cotton State. The invention of Dr. David Bonner, former head of Retirement Systems of Alabama, this enormous public golf facility was developed by the Sunbelt Golf Corporation to promote a state-wide healthy, environment-friendly outdoor activity for retirees and others.
Situated in Prattville, around 13 miles northwest of Montgomery, the 1,500-acre Capitol Hill campus offers three 18-hole championship courses. It initially opened in 1999 with the Senator and Legislator courses but quickly expanded to a 54-hole complex the following year with the arrival of the Judge, which is one of the longest (measuring all of 7,813 yards) and toughest (with a slope rating of 142) tracks on the Trail.Fourteen of the holes feature water hazards so golfers should maybe consider moving forward one set of tees and nudging their ball around the course rather than blasting away from the back markers. The 675-yard 7th and 711-yard 11th are a couple of par fives where that strategy just might come in handy. The 6th (played to an island green), 12th and 16th (both of which demand long carries across water) are all excellent par three holes that offer little room for error.
Of the four courses on the Robert Trent Jones Trail in Alabama that I’ve played – only three of which are ranked on this site – Capitol Hill’s Judge course was my least favorite. The view from the first tee is spectacular, but there’s a reason that’s pretty much the only thing you see when you do a Google image search for the course – it’s the only real highlight. Since nearly the entire course sits in a flat floodplain with several lakes, it doesn’t drain well, and the turf was very soft. As is typical for 1980s-1990s Robert Trent Jones courses, it’s long and narrow with a ton of forced carries, mostly penal design and few elements of strategy.
The only memorable holes are #1, the mid-length par four off a huge bluff, #6, an island green par three, and #18, a short uphill par four with a semi-blind approach.
I suppose if you happened to find yourself in Montgomery this course would be worth checking out, but as a destination, even as part of the RTJ Trail, I wouldn’t waste your time.
Played March 16, 2001
An amazing first hole that feels as if you are driving off a cliff. ( i believe it is about a 200 foot drop) The first hole is so impressive the rest of the course feels like a letdown, but it will grab you by the throat. It is very long, the 7th and 11th are both over 600 yards. Oh, and three of the par 3s have long forced carries. The slope is 142. I strongly suggest playing up a tee box (or two), It is the signature course of a 54 hole complex. Best of all it is conveniently located off the interstate system and as most of the RTJ Trail it is a superior golf value
Prepare to be Judged
One of the most incredible opening holes in all of golf. The scenery is breathtaking as you stare down a 200-foot bluff to a sliver of a fairway with a well-protected peninsula green jutting out into the Alabama River. With the City of Montgomery skyline forming the backdrop, be sure you have your camera ready.
This layout meanders through 200-acre of river backwaters with 14 holes that feature water hazards, so accuracy is more important than distance. I would suggest moving up a set of tees to truly enjoy this experience.
The 5th hole is most intimidating of the par-5’s. An accurate tee shot needs to avoid the fairway bunkers but not leak too far left or you will end up dunking it into the water hazard that runs along the left side all the way to the putting surface. Your second must be a layup to a sliver of a fairway in order to set up your approach with a short iron to a well-protected peninsula green.
Hole-6 is the most intimidating par-3 since you have to carry a large sand bunker that protects the front on this bulkhead island green.
The 7th-hole is a long par-5 where you are forced stay left or pay the price. An accurate drive over water has to land short of the huge bunker on the left yet not leak to far right as the fairway slopes towards the water. From there you can hit whatever club you want to make you feel comfortable with your approach yardage. Whichever you choose, your third shot needs to carry a daunting hazard that crosses in front of a well-protected bunkered green.
Green fees start at US$65, carts are $20 and taxes are extra. An amazing deal for such a great course.
There are also two other uniquely different championship 18-hole golf courses at Capitol Hill. The Legislator is more of a traditional parkland layout, framed with tall pines and built along a large bluff whereas the Senator is a Scottish-Links style design with more than 150 sod-faced pot bunkers and up to 40 feet high mounds.
Capitol Hill near Prattville is an amazing golf destination on its own but there are so many other great options you need to explore along the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.
To read more about golf in Alabama visit Dave Finn's website at http://golftravelandleisure.com/category/united-st...