The Country Club of Birmingham was founded in 1898, moving two years after its inauguration to Lakeview then on to its current location at Mountain Brook in the mid-1920s, when Donald Ross was engaged to set out two 18-hole courses for the club membership.
George Cobb renovated the East course in the 1960s then by John LaFoy in the late 1980s, when work was carried out to preserve the original Ross styling. LaFoy was called in again to implement plans drawn up in 2012 to upgrade the club’s practice facility.
A renovation of the East course became part of those plans so a new irrigation system was installed, bunkers were rebuilt to Better Billy Bunker specifications, and new tees were introduced, with modifications completed by the summer of 2019.
Birmingham Country Club is blessed with two courses that were original Donald Ross designs. The East is the flatter and shorter of the two, but seems to be truer to the original Donald Ross design.
The first hole is not a classic Ross welcoming home. The number three handicap hole with a fairway bunker left and a green surrounded by three bunkers. The 2nd is a great birdie oppty. A short par four with a creek crossing the fairway about 40 yards out. Big hitters may want to lay up to preferred flip wedge yardage. The 3rd is a gimme par 3 with a deep bunker left. On the long 4th favor the left off the tee as there is a fairway bunker right and OB. This is a two-tiered green with a front bunker left. The 5th is the longest par 4 and the number one handicap hole. Favor the left off the tee. The 6th is a short par five that is definitely reachable. The hole leans left and the creek crosses the fairway about 170 yards from the tee. The green is surrounded by five bunkers. The 7th is a mid-length par 3 and uphill. The 8th and 9th, in my opinion are very similar, 412 and 419 yards respectively with both elevated greens.
The back starts with a good birdie oppty that leans left. Another uphill approach with deep bunkers left and right. I was a wee bit short to a front pin and suffered the ignominy of watching by ball roll back down the hill. The 11th is a good par five, water carry that really should affect less than average tee shots. Big hitters can get home in two, but there is a creek in front of the two-tiered green. My advice, play it as a 3 shotter and pick your yardage. The long 12th also has that pesky creek running down the right. Favor the left side off the tee. Par is your friend. The par 3 13th is a classic Ross par 3, raised green with bunkers left and right. The 14th is another long par four. The hole contours right so favor left of center off the tee. Take an extra club on the approach and aim a few yards left of your target line. The mid-yardage par 3 15th is about executing and trusting your tee shote. All water carry to a wide but very narrow green. The 16th is a super birdie oppty. A short par four with bunkering that squeezes the fairway and forces the player to decide to go for it or lay-up. Another uphill approach that will reject anything short. Having said that, long is NG as well. My playing partner a long time member was above the hole putting for birdie and then pitching for par and then bogey… The 17th is a valley par four. It bends right so favor right of center off the tee. The 18th heads back to the beautiful Birmingham CC clubhouse. A pretty tree-lined hole.
Birmingham East is truer to the original Ross design. A fun course.