Where It All Began Over 25 Years Ago! Grand National near Auburn/Opelika was the first course to ever open on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. Now there are 26 courses on 11 sites spread across the State of Alabama. Jones Sr. reportedly said that this particular property was the single greatest site for a golf complex he had ever seen. There are three 18-hole courses to challenge you with 32 of the 54 holes nudging up against the 600-acre Lake Saugahatcee.
The Lake Course is the current home of the PGA TOUR’s Barbasol Championship vied on the same week as the ‘British Open’ so you can get a chance test your skills against the pros. This layout is not what you would normally expect from a typical PGA course since there are lots of trees with small areas for the gallery. The fairways are visibly tight looking but are actually more open then they look. There are a number of peninsula greens that will definitely challenge your approach shots.
The picturesque opening hole sets the stage for your round. This shorter par-4 starts from an elevated tee area and swoops down to the left. Driver is not recommended since there is a very small landing area to work with. The most prudent decision is to take a mid-iron and stay short or right of the huge fairway bunker to leave yourself with a short iron approach to a well-protected peninsula green. Accuracy rather than distance is paramount here.
The second hole reinforces my option. A mid length par-4 where water runs down the entire left side and two giant bunkers on the right await any faded drives. The green has two bunkers short and right and the lake surrounds the remainder of this peninsula green.
There are many great holes here but my most favourite hole maybe the short par-5 12th hole. A photogenic dog-leg left that hugs Lake Saugahatchee with four well-placed bunkers that you need to avoid.
All the par-3’s are amazing but the most memorable has to be the 230-yard 15th with an island green that might be the best one-shot hole on the trail.
The Links Course reportedly has the strongest finishing hole on the Trail, but the Short Course was absolutely outstanding. With a good combination of short and long holes, some uphill, some downhill and more than half touching the lake, every hole is unique and what I’d consider a signature hole anywhere else.
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Date: January 02, 2018