RTJ Golf Trail at Oxmoor Valley: Valley Course (Birmingham, AL on 04/30/16)

Our afternoon round was on the Valley Course, which is on the other side of the clubhouse. We tried to push back our tee time, but the next available one wasn’t for another hour! We decided against that and headed to the 1st tee with a few things to snack on. As you can imagine, it was crowded out there and we crept around in 4.5 hours, but it felt longer as we waited on just about every shot. The trail courses have an assembly line feeling, at least on the weekends! A marshal was out talking to groups and trying to get ahead of the slow play.

Unfortunately, I let the pace of play my mood and ended up with my worst score of the trip. But, I still loved the Valley Course! I loved how every hole looked and played! It has a little bit of scenery for everyone and is as fair a course as you’ll find on the trail. There are great views of another ridgeline on 1st and last holes. Except for those holes, the course stays true to its name with most of the holes having just minor elevation changes. That doesn’t mean they lack scenery though! Creeks meander though the course and holes are routed through some wetlands. Ponds are in other areas and some holes have a parkland feel to them. You’ll see what I mean from the pictures, I’m sure you can find something peaceful to look at even if the score isn’t good!

Sure, there are lots of mid-length par 4’s and all the par 3’s are about the same yardage (165 to 177 yards), but I don’t think there is a bad hole on the Valley Course. The trouble is on different sides of the course but you can bailout if you don’t feel comfortable over a shot. There is plenty of space to play your game and still keep it out of the trees! Options abound when it comes to lines and clubs off the tee so you can think your way around the Valley Course. The greens here seemed easier to putt as they had some flatter spots. We played the Orange Tees which are 71.3/127/6588. The rating and slope here seem consistent with the course’s difficult, which I cannot say about many of the trail courses.

Except for the 1st hole, the Valley Course won’t “wow” you like the Ridge Course will. That’s probably why most golfers like the Ridge Course better, according to the proshop. I’ve played enough in mountainous areas that I wasn’t shocked by the views when playing the Ridge Course. However, I could see how someone who has played most of their golf in a flatter area could be really impressed with the Ridge Course and think the Valley was just average.

Speaking of the 1st hole, at 415 yards, it is one of the longer par 4’s on the course. However, it plays significantly downhill and I hit just a 3 wood and 9 iron which normally go ~360 yards for me. You can play any shot that you want off the tee, including trying to carry all the fairway bunkers! The 1st is the signature hole on the Valley Course! The 2nd is pretty par 3 that plays over a pond. The pond shouldn’t be play though, except on a chunk. The best hole on the back nine is probably the 12th, which is a risk/reward par 5 with water all down the right side. If you challenge the water then you could have a chance to reach in two.

The maintenance on the Valley Course was good. The biggest adjustment for our group was trying get the speed right on the greens! Out of all the trail courses that we played on the trip, these greens were the slowest. They looked like they were going to be faster, but we had to give the putts a whack to get them there. There are a couple slopes that you can use to your advantage, but another member of the group and myself had iron shots hang on a ridge on the 15th. If the greens were faster, I’m sure they would have rolled back closer to that flag! Oddly, these greens are bermuda so I would have thought they would be rolling quicker. The tees here were nicer than the Ridge Course. Everything else was consistent with the trail experience, no complaints.

I really enjoyed the design of the Valley Course because you shouldn’t have to modify your game to play here. There are some birdie holes and it is the type of place where you can keep a good round together just by thinking. I’d highly recommend the Valley Course!

#1 (415 yard par 4):

1-1 1-2

#2 (174 yard par 3):

2-1

#3 (391 yard par 4):

3-1

#4 (171 yard par 3):

4-1

#5 (375 yard par 4):

5-1

#6 (369 yard par 4):

6-1 6-2

#7 (509 yard par 5):

7-1

#8 (396 yard par 4):

8-1 8-2

#9 (541 yard par 5):

9-1

#10 (420 yard par 4):

10-1 10-2

#11 (321 yard par 4):

11-1 11-2

#12 (504 yard par 5):

12-1

#13 (177 yard par 3):

13-1

#14 (527 yard par 5):

14-1 14-2

#15 (381 yard par 4):

15-1 15-2

#16 (165 yard par 3):

16-1

#17 (359 yard par 4):

17-1

#18 (393 yard par 4):

18-1 18-2

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