The Mountain Brook Club is a very-private Birmingham-area establishment that traces its lineage back to Donald Ross. Although both George Cobb and John LaFoy came through to make renovations across the years, more recent work from Brian Silva has brought it back to its roots...however nontraditional those roots may be.
Even under Ross’s watch, it would have been very atypical for his repertoire. Although he was no stranger to fitting courses onto tight parcels (the current course extends to just 6,500 yards), the title brook that runs longways through the property creates a number of unusual holes.
For example, the 250-yard par four at No. 12 sounds like child’s play for the strong player. The green’s awkward placement along the creek requires a consummate fade to stick the landing area however, therefore most players will settle for a very short lay-up from the tee.
The hole preceding it tells a similar story. Just 485 yards from the back, players must flirt with the creek as it wanders down the left. Then the question becomes whether to play over the creek to the lay-up area...or cross the creek twice on the way to another precipitously-perched putting area.
Mountain Brook Club is almost a century old and is a Donald Ross design that several others have reswizzled. The first two holes are mundane, flat par fours, although on two favor the left side off the tee. The 3rd is uphill dogleg left with a bunker on the outside elbow. Take an extra club on the approach, this is a small green with a ridge about 2/3 of the way back. The 4th is a classic Ross par 3, uphill with deep bunkers front left and right. The first par five is over 600 yards but downhill. Favor the left as the contour is left to right. Two average shots and you will be inside 150, this green also has deep bunkers front left and right. The 6th is the shortest par four on the front but uphill. Fairway bunker right and the green is a left to right redan with a deep front right bunker. The 7th is a cute Florida par three. Interesting in that this may be the apex of the course and there is a water hazard angling right to left in front of the green. The 8th is the longest par 4, but all downhill with no hazards. It is the number one handicap hole and the green is receptive to a running approach. The 9th is a par five sharp dogleg left with a large bunker complex on the outside elbow. Cut the corner and you will be rewarded with a second shot inside 200. The green is thin and long and runs front to back with a greenside bunker paralleling it on the right. Excellent scoring hole.
The back starts with a straightaway long par four. There are an assortment of fairway bunkers left and right and greenside front left and right. The 11th is an interesting par five. There is a brook that can come into play on every shot. While the hole is pretty straight as the crow flies, the playing area is trying to force you left. Off the tee you must go over the left porting of a slope or run the risk of your drive being in the brook. A good drive will leave you a risk reward second shot. The brook cuts across the fairway and then swings left in front of the green. The layup is left, fun hole. The 12th may be described as bizarre or quirky, but I loved it. A real short 247 yard par four. In a straight line from the tee to the green are mature trees. Both the tee and the green are right of the brook, there is very little fairway right. This hole also forces you left. Off the tee a high fade is the shot. It is one I do not possess. The green was so tempting I decided to give it a go. My playing partner, Hal, a member of 30 years was a wee bit surprised as he had been watching me hook the ball around the course thus far. So, I opened the face as far as I could and gave it rip. Got it up pretty quickly, but not quite enough. It nicked a branch and I figured I was a goner, we waited and waited for the ball to appear and suddenly we hear the thud. Surprisingly, it was on the back of the green. Hal said he had seen lots of drives end up on the green but none quite like that. The 12th is a small two-tiered green with the front lower. Of course. I was on the back, but I was able to keep my first putt on the green and made the comebacker. I love the 12th. The 13th is the longest par four on the back and is a tough hole. It leans right with three fairway bunkers on the right side. Additionally, that pesky brook angles back across the fairway in front of the green. The number two handicap hole. The 14th is another long par four. Off the tee aim just left of the fairway bunker. This is a hole where you can run your approach on from the left side. The 15th is the shortest par 3. The green is chiseled in the hillside and surrounded by five bunkers. The 16th is a demanding valley par four dogleg right with woods on the right. The sneaky brook can be seen at the fairway bend but really should not come into play. The approach is uphill to a green perched on a cliff. Left is death, don’t go there, I did, not a pleasant experience. The 17th is the longest par three, but I feel the weakest of the four. The 18th is a long dogleg right, with moguls, bunkers and trees on the inside elbow. The green sits behind that pesky brook.
This is a fun course. I really enjoyed it and would pay to play it again.