Located just outside Mobile, the 54-hole Magnolia Grove golf facility has recently been renovated, with The Crossings course, host to several LPGA Tour events in the past, having new water features and waste areas added during this refurbishment.
The landscape at Magnolia Grove is characterised by creeks, marshland and lakes, with each of the 54 holes carved through indigenous hardwood and pine trees. The renovated Crossings course provides more of an open parkland feel and the crushed oyster shell waste areas give it an exciting new look.
It’s complemented by the Falls course (the only par-71 layout on the RTJ Golf Trail) and the Short course, which has also recently been renovated to feature all new putting surfaces. With a collection of one-shotters that wouldn’t look out of place on a championship course, the Short course is reckoned to be one of the best par three courses in all of the country.
After our eight guys played the Crossings course at Magnolia Grove, having before made stops at Grand National and Oxmoor Valley, we considered both the Crossings and the Falls courses to be superior to the two courses at Oxmoor Valley but not the equal against the two courses at Grand National.
What we liked the most about the Crossings course was the more interesting land changes than at Grand National, but not as overly hilly as the Ridge course at Oxmoor Valley. The Crossings has more of a rolling aspect to its terrain more like the Valley course although without the overly steep beginning and ending holes on the Valley course. However, Grand National is a more strategic and beautiful course due to the presence of the lake or ponds on more than ten holes of each course. The Crossings course does incorporate water but not very often.
We particularly liked many of the par 3’s except 17 and several of the par 4’s with the exception of 10 and 18. The par 5’s we felt were average.
Like the other courses on the Trail, the Crossings course is tree lined so there is a nice feeling of solitude although after awhile one longs for a bit more variety. A common fault found on this course also similar to other courses on the Trail is that there is an abundance of elevated/raised greens many of which are overly contoured.
One difference to the courses at both Grand National and Oxmoor Valley is that there are fewer doglegs on the Crossings course. This made the fairways feel wider. It also meant that Robert Trent Jones did not have as many opportunities to misplace his bunkers which we found to be the case on many holes at Grand National that go too far into the fairway.
1 – par 4 of 422/387 which is a nice starting hole to a fairway that feels wide. There are two bunkers right on the fairway for the faders of the ball and one bunker left of the green. We liked the hole.
2 – par 3 of 185/168 to a slightly raised green with a bunker fronting the entirety of the green which slopes to the right. It is another nice hole that we liked.
3 – par 4 sharp dogleg right of 385/347 with a forced carry more for looks than play. There are bunkers down the left of the turn and a partially hidden bunker on the right front of the green. You cannot see as mush of the green or bunker from the right side versus the left side of the fairway due to a rise on the right near the green. It is another nice hole.
4 – par 5 of 540/511 with a blind tee shot up and over a rise. There is a bunker on the right for the approach shot and another front left. We felt a grouping of trees on the right for the second shot came too far into the fairway. There is a nicely contoured green here. This is a nice hole.
5 – par 4 of 430/392 dogleg left with a pond and a thin bunker fronting the green. There is another small bunker back left. This is perhaps the second best hole on the golf course with a green sloped back to front and good undulations to it.
6 – par 5 of 528/500 with a bunker right on the fairway and another on the left. This is the first truly elevated bunker and sloping back to front. The green is angled left to right. We felt the hole to be lacking in challenge for anyone with a lower index.
7 – par 4 of 412/385 with a nice rise to a plateau for the tee shot. There is a front bunker right and one left at the green with a substantial fall-off to the right of the green but offering a good chance of recovery. The trees come in a bit too much on the fairway.
8 – par 3 of 219/192 with an elevated green after carrying wetlands and two small pot bunkers fronting the green with one more to either side. The green is very large. We felt this to be the best par 3 on the golf course.
9 – par 4 of 406/381 which plays longer as it is uphill. There is a tree and a bunker on the left corner of this hole that feels like a double dogleg. The green is heart shaped with a bunker to either side making the front of the green very narrow. We felt the trees come in a bit too much on the left side near the green.
10 – par 4 of 417/386 requiring one to carry wetlands and thread their tee shot between two bunkers on this dogleg left. The right fairway bunker is farther down the left. There is a fronting bunker at the green which is slightly crowned as well as a bunker behind the green. It is a nice hole to start the back nine.
11 – par 4 of 398/364 with a fairway bunker on the left we felt came into the fairway a bit too much. The green is angled left to right. It is a decent hole.
12 – par 4 of 421/392 with opposite fairway bunkers and a triangular green with a bunker front left and side right. It is another nice hole.
13 – par 5 of 559/524 with the tee shot needing to avoid the bunker on the left and the next needing to avoid the fairway bunkers on the right. There are two bunkers fronting a small green. We felt the fairway corridor to be too narrow and the green should have been 15% larger as it really diminished the quality of the hole.
14 – par 3 of 195/172 over a pond to a wide but thin green. There is room to miss around this green and have a good chance of recovery unless you go too far into the deeper grass. It is a nice hole but not unique.
15 – par 4 of 423/400 with a green set off to the left fronted by water going down the left. The second longest bunker is on the left side of the fairway. There is another forced carry off the tee. This is the best hole on the back nine.
16 – par 5 of 596/535 gentle dogleg right with a long waste bunker on the right side to a slightly raised green protected by two fronting bunkers. We though the hole lacked character after the waste bunker.
17 – par 3 of 226/201 with another forced carry and the green fronted by three bunkers. The green is unnecessarily over-sloped to the right. None of us cared much for the hole.
18 – par 4 of 450/415 playing uphill with a series of fairway bunkers on the right after carrying a pond that really is not in play. The green is surrounded by bunkers. It is a nice finishing hole but felt out of character to the rest of the golf course. We were split on opinion of this hole; 4 liked it a lot and the other 4 did not think it to be good.
In my personal ranking I would place the Magnolia Crossings course behind the Lake and Links at Grand National but I found it to be superior to the Ridge and Valley courses at Oxmoor Valley. I give it high marks for playability as the fairways feel wider here despite the tree lined fairways. However, there are a few fairways that could have more trees removed. There is a good variety in the holes and green complexes which one does not find at the Ridge course. Most of the greens are not overly done and are in good condition. This is a worthwhile stop on the RTJ Trail as the Falls course might be even better than the Crossings.
Took a day off work to play this during the week. The RTJ Trail should be on every golfers list of places to play. The Crossings was in excellent condition even after a few days of torrential rains in the area. The course is a true test of you golf skills. Winding through heavily forested land, most holes make you feel like you are the only person out for a round of golf. It is worth a trip to play this gem of a golf course. While you are here, make time to play The Falls (my favorite) and the Short Course. You will not be disappointed.