Six water hazards supply the bulk of difficulty at Cedar Ridge Golf Course, where golfers hunt pars across a relatively flat, 18-hole layout. Golfers must evade the course’s waterways on 11 holes, giving advantage to those who trust their swings or designed tiny life vests for their golf balls. Dense trees lines loom on the edge of fairways on the back nine, and undulating greens challenge putters throughout the course. Cedar Ridge keeps its par-hunters energized for the round with an onsite snack bar.
Richland Golf Center summons clubbers of all stripes with its sprawling, multifaceted swing-honing facility and a staff of ace instructors. Revolving around a central pond, the nine-hole executive course helps players master their approaches with seven par 3s and two par 4s that ensure drivers won't start questioning their self-worth. Clients can groom their game in pressure-free sessions at the 40 all-grass hitting stalls of the driving range, at the 2-acre short-game area, or by enrolling in one many golf lesson options.
The center also encompasses an 18-hole mini-golf course, which eschews gimmicky clowns and windmills in favor of a calming layout with misting fountains and obstacles such as water hazards, bunkers, and out-of-bounds areas. Clients can pair renovated swings with brand-new clubs in the pro shop, which peddles gear from brands such as TaylorMade, Srixon, Cleveland, or enlist the center's experts to regrip their current clubs or replace driver shafts snapped during sand-trap pole-vaulting competitions.
Heritage Golf continues the tradition of the Scots with a par 71 scenic course nestled between stately mountains in Blount County. Invite a friend or friend-sized golf club on an 18-hole excursion aboard a friendly golf cart to tackle the course's flat terrain and 113-slope rating. Open fairways offer views of the North Alabama countryside while multiple natural creeks interact with play and occasionally produce mermen willing to caddie in return for a single lock of human hair. Golfers of any skill level can find a challenge putting on bentgrass greens and driving over Bermuda fairways before retiring to the full-service grill, where hot and cold comestibles are available for purchase. Denim is asked to remain on the ranch, but collared shirts are welcome, provided pants accompany them.
Surrounded by the majestic Cumberland Mountains, Goose Pond Colony’s 36 golf holes share the banks of Lake Guntersville with cozy cottages, a campground, and a full-service marina. The Colony Course, designed by renowned course architect George Cobb and opened in 1971, stretches 7,100 yards across a peninsula that juts out into the lake, a water-laden layout that will host the 2013 NJCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championship. Players can see water from each of the course’s 18 holes, in the form of the surrounding lake, the two large inland ponds, and the sweat pouring out of overworked golf carts. Meanwhile, the slightly shorter Plantation Course is reached after a short ride north on State Route 79 and challenges players with its open fairways and bentgrass greens.
Goose Pond Colony’s proximity to a 69,200-acre waterway affords ample opportunities for recreational activities aside from golf, including boating, fishing, and paddleboarding. After a day spent reeling in largemouth bass, catfish, and wayward golf balls out of the lake, weary competitors can retire to The Docks Restaurant for soups, salads, and seafood.
Colony Course at a Glance:
Plantation Course at a Glance:
Designed by prolific course architect Gene Bates, the 18-hole, 6,734-yard Twin Bridges Golf Club course bobs and weaves around the Coosa River and its surrounding waterways, forcing golfers to avoid hazards on 11 holes. But the most challenging hole—the 554-yard 5th hole, a par 5—showcases another course challenge: bunkers. The sand traps at 5 pinch the fairway at three different places, shrinking landing zones for drives and second shots and proving that water isn’t the only cause for concern on the course. Twin Bridges also boasts a driving range with a practice bunker and an 8,000 square-foot putting green, where golfers can get a feel for the speed of the course’s bent-grass putting surfaces.
Certified as a Cooperative Sanctuary by Audubon International, Twin Bridges works to preserve its scenic setting through natural resource conservation, providing habitats for area wildlife, and building vacation homes for migratory birds.
Course at a Glance:
A signature Gene Bates–designed course, Saddle Creek Golf Club's 18-hole layout alternates between dense woodlands and open fields, all brought together by a winding, stone-lined creek that babbles across multiple holes. Encroaching trees, lakes, and angry linebackers loom throughout the front nine, where accurate tee shots must bisect unforgiving fairways. The course's second act takes golfers out of dense tree lines and into an open, links-style layout, where players must conquer deep bunkers, intervening waterways, and unfavorable lies wrought by mounded, Scottish-style terrain. Rounds end with dramatic flair at the 18th hole, where a two-tiered green tests how well players have adjusted to the slick, bentgrass putting surfaces and triangular holes that dot the entire course.
The club's Nineteenth Hole overlooks the emerald expanse, allowing golfers to relive glorious moments over frothy beverages, savory meals from the grill, or mouthwatering sports broadcasts by Brent Musburger on the diner's dual big-screen TVs and LCD projector.
Course at a Glance:
* Designed by Gene Bates
With a meticulously maintained Bermuda grass driving range, PGA professionals on staff, and three practice greens, Madison Golf Center has fashioned itself into a prime place to learn and get better at the game of golf. The grounds crew keeps the large, 70-tee grass hitting area in pristine condition, cutting it to less than half an inch each day to accurately recreate the playing conditions of private clubs. Once players have worked the rust off of their drives and filed the rust off of their irons, they can hone their touch around the greens in a short game practice area comprised of three putting greens and a chipping and pitching green. The center’s trio of golf professionals are always on hand to help players along their path to improvement through private and group lessons customized to each player’s playing style and goals.