For those of you who have experienced the Robert Trent Jones Trail, which runs from Mobile, Ala., south to the Gulf, you know it is the largest golf course construction project ever attempted. The New York Times calls it “some of the best public golf on earth.” Global Traveler covered Magnolia Grove in the GTee column of the Oct. 2006 issue. But there are other courses in the region not designed by RTJ that can add to your playing enjoyment. Timber Creek Golf Club is one of them.
Designed by Earl Stone, who still is designing courses at 77, Timber Creek reflects his philosophy that a course should be challenging yet playable for average golfers. He accomplishes this by assuring that women’s tee boxes do not have unnecessary carry to the fairway and by sculpting landing areas to aid, rather than hinder, a golfer whose drive runs a little off course. At the same time, Stone includes doglegs and other enhancements to increase the challenge for avid golfers.
The course is located on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay in Baldwin County, just off Interstate Highway 10. Timber Creek is easily accessible from Mobile, Gulf Shores, Pensacola and the Mississippi coast. The layout includes three nine-hole courses — Magnolia, Dogwood and Pines — which can be played in any combination.
Hole 2 (437 yards, par 4)
This is a long par 4 with out of bounds to the left and a hazard to the right, making this one of the most difficult holes from the tee box. For your approach shot you will need enough club, as anything less than the yardage you select will fall short, and you will be left with a downhill lie to an elevated green. On the day we played, all four players fell short, and none had par.
Hole 4 (592 yards, par 5)
This hole has recently been redesigned to eliminate a hazard which was left of the fairway. The hazard has been filled in and the fairway has been sculpted so that drives will roll more, making it possible to reach the green in two. In our group, Rob Klepper, who consistently asked to use my driver, slammed a shot to position “A.” Regulars love this hole and look forward to the challenge of scoring a birdie or eagle!
Hole 9 (411 yards, par 4)
The longer you hit your drive, the narrower the fairway becomes — this took out a few players in our foursome. The perfect tee shot is a slight fade matching the shape of the fairway. If you rely on the mounds left of the fairway to direct your ball back into play, you could end up with a bad lie. Many players tee off with a fairway wood or an iron so that they have a better approach to the green.
Hole 7 (534 yards, par 5)
This is a very difficult hole that requires strategy. The fairway is large and open, but there are troubles you might not see from the tee box. Watch for lateral hazards on the left and out of bounds on the right, with a bunker added for extra measure. Big drivers will be tempted to go for the green in two, but the smart play is to lay up, due to the lake. Laying up can be hazardous, too, and club selection is crucial.
Hole 9 (458 yards, par 4)
The ninth is a perfect finishing hole at Dogwood — a very long par 4 that doglegs slightly to the left. The fairway bunker on the left side is a common hazard for golfers. Your best shot is to ride the right side and then approach the green with a mid to long iron. Pinpositions tend to be back left of the green, which adds difficulty; it is best to aim at the center of the green and walk away with par.
Hole 1 (436 yards, par 4)
The first hole of Pines is considered one of Timber Creek’s best holes, with a No. 1 handicap rank. The hole is a dogleg left and requires two excellent shots to make the green in regulation. The only way to cut off this dogleg is to hit a right-to-left shot from the tee box. You should have no problem hitting this green, as it is the largest on the course. The pin position on this hole is crucial, since it can change your club selection by one or two.
Hole 7 (426 yards, par 4)
This long par 4 is considered the best-designed hole on Timber Creek and is the pride of Earl Stone. Water comes into play on the left side of the fairway. Drives from the tee box should be aimed down the right side of the fairway, where mounds — a Stone signature — can help direct your ball back to the fairway. Long hitters have a “risk reward” decision with their drive: Longer shots tend to come into harm’s way and close to the lake, but do make the approach to the green easier.
Hole 8 (215 yards, par 3)
This is a very difficult par 3, and normally your tee shot to the green is in the face of the prevailing wind. The wind can add as much as 15–20 percent more distance to your tee shot. Pin placement is also a significant issue on this hole — overshooting the back pin placement can make for a difficult recover (especially back left), and front placement can come up short. I chose a 4-wood from the tee box and barely made the green. Others in the course, embarrassingly, chose a driver!
Timber Creek Golf Club
9650 Timber Creek Blvd.
Daphne, AL 36527
tel 251 621 9900
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