Magnificent Renaissance Resort Hotel: Photo Courtesy of RTJ


Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa:

Birmingham's Luxury RTJ Stay & Play Experience.

Posted by: Rick Parnham


Alabama's Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is arguably the most successful golf trail brand of its kind. Built in the late 1980's using state pension plan assets, this is the final build of the esteemed and highly acclaimed collection of courses. Becoming the largest source of tourism revenue for Alabama, the trail is home to 11 superb golf resorts built by legendary architect Robert Trent Jones, boasting 26 courses over the varied landscapes this southern state has to offer.


Nestled in a rugged Appalachian enclave in southern Birmingham, this master-planned community of Ross Bridge is centered by a world-class golf facility and most impressive stay and play opportunity. The Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa is home to a magnificent luxury hotel and one of the world's longest golf courses. The Resort opened in 2005 and has been a big draw for both its outstanding complex and accessible location. A short drive from the Birmingham airport, the hotel offers a perfect stay and play opportunity when flying in to sample the trail. With "Trail" sister facility Oxmoor Valley and its 36 holes a couple miles up the road, this cluster of courses makes the resort a popular spot for traveling golfers beginning or ending their RTJ adventure.


Offering a choice of 259 rooms and suites, the hotel is modelled after the palatial mountain resorts of Europe and the Canadian Rockies with their turreted corners and grand facades. The resort has two distinctive dining options. Brock's features a Mediterranean menu while The Clubhouse Restaurant offers traditional family-style classics in a casual setting. Boasting indoor and outdoor saltwater pools, hot tub, spa, fitness center, and miles of hiking and cycling trails throughout the community, there is plenty to keep your stay lively and active.


The course is the highlight to any hotel stay at Ross Bridge. Built as the longest of the behemoths found across the Trail, it is credited to Trent Jones Senior Design Associate Roger Rulewich. It should also be noted that Rulewich is the primary driving force behind the creation of the entire trail. A ghastly 8200 yards from the tips, Ross Bridge was once home to a PGA Champions event shortly after its opening between 2006 - 2009. Everything about the routing is immense, from the size of the greens and fairways to the strategic shot making required to navigate the layout.

The round opens in the shadows of the castle-like hotel and wraps around the first of two lakes that make up the backbone of the routing. The first is a challenging par 5 playing to a hillside green complex. It is a demanding opener that sets the tone for the entire round. The second and third holes play as mid length par 4's; one downhill to a green framed by a watery backdrop and the other hugging a plateaued hillside steeply sloping to the lake on the left. The first truly heroic hole is waiting at the 4th tee. The lengthy par 3 plays over the lake to a green cut in the opposite bank. Wide but with a dramatic false front, it is a knee knocker for sure. The next four holes play around the practice range all with considerable elevation changes and resulting shot making demands. The front side finishes with a lake-hugging par 4 playing to a green set behind fronting traps and with a backdrop of waterfalls and the spectacular hotel.  


Lakeside Setting for the Finishing Hole: Photo Credit to Jonathan Hoomes

The opening holes of the back nine occupies a very steeply sloped piece of terrain, which offers spectacular vistas of the course and the surrounding mountain enclave. The 10th, an uphill dogleg right par 4, might be one of the most challenging holes on the entire card. The 13th is a wild ride, as a near 800 yard par 5 from the tips. Thankfully the hole resembles a downhill ski slope so gravity will be your friend. The 14th is a treacherous short hole playing across a finger of a lake to a green jutting out in the water with a collection of bunkers  gathering anything struck a bit to vigorously. The risk / reward 15th throws caution to the driver as the tee shot needs to avoid the strategically placed bunkers lining both sides of the fairway, however don’t be too cautious for it takes a good thump to clear the forced carry of water. The round finishes with a stern test at the dogleg right par 4. A drive that clears the lake should favor the right side of the fairway. This shortens the approach but brings in another carry of the lake on the second shot.


Meandering Par 5 Hole16: Photo Credit to Jonathan Hoomes

There is always a bit of skepticism with courses boasting of yardages best measured with an odometer and course ratings well above my high school GPA. Was the purpose to dazzle on the card and get on the lists of most difficult places to play? At first glance Ross Bridge could cast some of that aura on golfers looking to visit. The reality of this facility is that it embodies all things gargantuan. Sure if you stepped back to the tips and gave it a go, you might need an accountant to keep score. However, embracing the "Play it Forward," notion of being honest and reasonable in your expectations, this is a damn fine golf course. It has gorgeous sightlines, it’s fun, playable,  and challenges all facets of your game. Combine your play with a luxurious stay at the resort and you are sure to walk away with a truly memorable RTJ Trail experience.


Ross Bridge Resort

4000 Grand Avenue

Hoover, AL
































Relaxing Outdoor Pool

Photo Courtesy of RTJ


















Luxury Stay

Photo Courtesy of RTJ













Ross Bridge: Par 72

Tees Yards Rating Slope