When I found out that the event I was doing in Birmingham was going to be held at Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa, I started making contingency plans in case my schedule would permit a round of golf. When it all fell into place and I got dropped into an 8:30am threesome on Saturday morning, my last hope was that my shoulder would hold up for a round of golf.
It had been almost three weeks to the day since I over-swam my shoulder, and I was more nervous about how I’d hold up than how I’d play. On the range, my focus was all over the place, and so were my shots. After I calmed down, and sweated some of the coffee out of my system, I was able to get some consistency going. I was amazed by how hot it was at 8am. This did not bode well for the final six holes that we’d be playing between 11:30am and 1pm.
The course is a stunner. Part of the Robert Trent Jones Trail, Ross Bridge plays from the tips as the third longest course in the world: an insidious 8,139 yards. I opted to play from the whites, 6,200 yards with a rating of 68.7 and a slope of 118. Over the course of 18 holes there was never a repeat drive, never a repeat hole. The par 3 holes were all extremely memorable, the course a classic RTJ “tough par, easy bogey” risk/reward setup.
Not usually a fan of carts, I was thankful to have one in the Alabama heat. The temperature was 80 by the time we teed off, and was well over 90 by the end of the first nine. My shoulder actually seemed to like the heat, as if playing in a sauna was exactly what it needed. I didn’t feel it once during the round.
I kept track of fun points, but no one else in my group was really into the concept, which took some of the shine off of it. Overall, I hit some good shots, and only had 3 horrific flubs, all of them topped shots. I managed a birdie on a 163 yard par 3, knocking my tee shot to 6 feet and dropping the putt. But I was 7-over on the par-5’s alone: one bogey and three doubles. If there is anything I can take away from the day, it is a need to improve my game on the long holes.
Once again, I ended well. The final hole is a par-4 that plays over water on the tee shot, and then tempts you with another shot over water to reach the green. My tee shot was safe, a little too safe, as it left me 184 yards to the elevated green, 160 of which was carry over water. I buried my approach shot in the hillside, carrying the water but not quite making the putting surface. A chip and two putts and I was home in 99, marking my fourth round in a row under 100, and my sixth round in double-digits ever.
The Day’s Stats
Fairways hit: 6
Greens in Regulation: 1
Ups & Downs: 2
Fun Points: 28
Handicap before round: 31.4
Handicap after round: 30.8