We pulled up to the Ross Bridge castle off Lakeshore Drive where Mod was ready to transport our belongings to our luxury room, just as he has for visitors for ten years. This year is different of course and he is happier than ever to greet guests from around the world. The reception in the lobby is warmed with a fireplace and den seating. Our fifth-floor balcony overlooked the golf course with a putting practice green front left and chipping practice green front right, lakes beyond each and the back of what we’d learn on the course is a replica of a Gristmill. Golf carts scattered back to the fairways after a lightning siren break, only to be called in again as the rain watered the verdant bermuda carpets. We ordered a delicious salmon and brie salad from the clubhouse grill on the ground floor and split it with a bottle of wine on the balcony, toasting our anniversary and watching God’s show. Surrounded by hills and trees we are anxious to partake of Robert Trent Jones’ show below in the morning.
And a fine show it is. Ross Bridge is definitely one of the finest on Alabama’s RTJ Trail. The starter clued us in to some course strategy especially since it was cart path only. Aim way right on the first par 5 from the forward tees. Don’t short the 3’s. The gristmill’s water wheel is an amazing feature Jones placed in view on many holes. It cascades the stream of water connecting the two lakes from our balcony view. The antique details are authentic, the roar of the high falls is soothing and the built-in restrooms a relief. The course acreage is massive in width and in fact is currently the longest course in the country. The fairways are generous but so are the bunkers and slopes to make a challenging run. If there were only one word allowed to describe it, we would choose majestic.
After golf, bikes are available for touring or spend pool time with another little water wheel action and a slide for kids or the kid in you. An indoor pool is available during inclement weather next to the fitness center and spa. Jacuzzis were closed by state law during Covid times. Other safety protocols include minimizing room presence. Place your trash or used towels outside the door and call 0 if you need anything replenished. Masks and distancing are adhered to.
Three restaurants serve a variety of cuisine and our starter highly recommended Jubilee Joe’s with a patio twelve minutes away for seafood. The fried green tomatoes with lump crab and remoulade sauce were incredible.
Three miles from the Renaissance in Birmingham is Oxmoor Valley Golf Club with two more spectacular RTJ courses. The Ridge Course was closed but the Valley Course was a treat of nature. The first tee starts high with a launched drive to the valley below with streams, lakes, wildflowers and singing birds. The final hole climbs back up the ridge to the grand clubhouse with a wraparound veranda large enough for multiple parties when large gatherings are again permitted. Traveling might be slightly trickier these days but with destinations like Ross Bridge, Oxmoor Valley and the rest of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail ensuring safety precautions, it feels like heaven to be on the road again.