The stately Ross Bridge Resort, seen here from the first tee, holds a commanding
place on the property and is visible from many holes on the golf course.
Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa is carved out of the Appalachian foothills just minutes from busy Birmingham, Alabama. As soon as you drive onto this resort property that carries a Scottish theme for its namesake, you can feel yourself begin to relax just a bit. We arrived here after breakfast at FarmLinks by way of a schedule change. Due to a wet forecast for Friday, our hosts with the RTJ Trail set us up to play this resort's spectacular course a day early.
I've played this course a couple of times with the resort's general manager, Steve Miller, who is a pretty good player. Steve had planned to play with us at Ross Bridge, but when we switched dates, he ended up playing with us the next day at the nearby RTJ Trail's Oxmoor Valley course. I had the chance to play with Mike Gunn, a sales executive with the Greater Birmingham CVB, and a couple of fellow writers. Ross Bridge is one of the longest golf courses in the world if you play it from the back tees. Not only did we not do that, but I don't remember ever seeing anyone play from those tees in my rounds here. It measures nearly 8,200 yards from the tips.
The first thing you notice about this course is that you almost always have a great view of the imposing Ross Bridge Resort from anywhere on the course. This 259-room resort hotel sits on the property's highest point and is a focal point for any round here. The golf shop is attached to the hotel, so guests walk from their rooms into the pro shop. Each room has a balcony and the rates at Ross Bridge are very reasonable compared to most resorts of this caliber. Miller told us at lunch the next day that $189 a night was a fairly good average rate here. He also estimated that as many as a third of all guests in the resort played the course at least once during their stay.
Ross Bridge has some great holes and its greens are a bit less severe than some of the other RTJ Trail courses. This is a resort course and if you play it from a reasonable tee based on your handicap, you can score here.
After golf, I went to my room and opened the balcony doors overlooking the resort pool. As I got out of the shower I heard the bagpiper. A lone piper began on the first tee and walked a bit around the property, ending up on the poolside patio. I listened for 20 minutes or so while I relaxed on the balcony. This is an evening signature at Ross Bridge and it really drives home the resort's Scottish theme. Bluegrass music has been described as a "high lonesome sound". Bagpipe music? For me it has always been ethereal and haunting. Something best heard from a distant hill. This tradition makes a lasting impression for any visit to Ross Bridge Resort.
The finishing holes on each nine come in over this lake at Ross Bridge Resort.
The Ross Bridge course measures almost 8,200 yards from its back tees.
Players carry as much of the lake as they can with their drives on 18. Their second shot will also carry
over water to this heavily bunkered green.