Eagle Point Golf Club
Eagle Point Golf Club
By Ian Thompson
It hardly seems possible, but Eagle Point Golf Club has been open for over 20 years. As such, it is one of the most mature public access courses in the greater Birmingham area.
When the late Joe Lee Griffin and Don Huff decided to build a golf course, they knew they had the market, because when Eagle Point opened in April 1990 there were relatively few golf courses that were a comfortable drive from Birmingham.
“It was a good time for this venture. The area needed upscale public golf courses. We found the property, and within 16 months of getting started we were open,” Huff recalled when I interviewed many years ago.
Earl Stone, the noted Mobile-based golf course architect, did the design. “We knew him to be a designer of fun-to-play, public golf courses.” Indeed so.
Peninsula, TimberCreek, Rock Creek, Indian Bayou, Marcus Pointe and Deer Run are just some of Stone's other local designs.
The course is located off of Highway 280, less than a mile east of Highway 119, but is set well back from the road. Attention to detail at Eagle Point is evident as soon as you enter the gates into the facility. The pro shop, Point Room, which is used as a conference room, and the Eagle's Nest snack room, all constructed out of sandstone, really stand out. They form a triangle around the putting green, which is almost adjacent to the first tee.
To say the course is tree-lined would be an understatement. Every hole requires an accurate drive, otherwise you will be practicing your recovery shots from the trees all round long. However, at only 6470 yards from the back tees, length off the tee is not at a high premium.
Also important at a public facility are large greens. Eagle Point has them in abundance, which really helps the greens not get worn down during high traffic times as multiple flag positions exist on each green. Year in, year out, the greens roll very well and were rebuilt with Crenshaw bent in 1996.
Elevation is evident throughout the course. In fact, seven holes feature tee shots that are severely downhill. Not only does this make for a spectacular view of the hole before you, it also invites the player to hit a good shot, as getting the ball airborne is naturally easier from an elevated tee.
Three of the four par threes all incorporate this design feature. Nos. 7, 11 and 15 (No. 5 is level) all head sharply downhill, which makes clubbing difficult to judge. However, they are all fine holes that invite a well struck ball. As well as being downhill, No. 11 has a little seen design feature in that it shares a double green with the par four 17th, which is undoubtedly the hardest hole on the course.
The front nine starts off at a fairly pedestrian pace as the first four holes, all par fours, run parallel to one another. The character of the course begins to show itself at the par 3 seventh, and from then on the holes get better and better. Indeed, the back nine is definitely the stronger of the two nines. You need to be able to move the ball both ways, use your imagination on many of the downhill shots and with two par fives in the final three holes you have the chance to go for broke at the end of your round.
Talking of par fives, two of of the three (Nos. 8 and 16) are reachable in two by longer hitters, with only the very longest being able to reach the final hole in two shots. In fact, you could say the course finishes with three par fives, because although No. 17 is a par four, most players will be very satisfied with a five on the hole.
The final three holes at Eagle Point represent quite a finish. The 16th is the ultimate risk-reward hole. It's a short par five of only 475 yards, but fairway bunkers on the right side must be avoided to leave yourself a chance for a look at the green in two. Also on the second shot the bulk of the trouble is on the right side, which is where most golfers miss their bad shots. A bunker that wraps around the final 80 yards of this side, with a lake immediately to its right, will gobble up shots missed here. But if you can keep your second shot straight, you will have a chance to make a birdie or even an eagle.
The 17th is played in the opposite direction, and from the very back tee represents one of the hardest driving holes you'll ever play. The same lake that was right of the previous hole must be carried off the tee, with further trouble left and right. A hooked tee shot certainly will spell disaster, as the out-of-bounds cuts in very close on this side. Should you safely negotiate the tee shot, you will still be left with a shot of at least 200 yards uphill to a raised green. Good luck!
The final hole gives you a little relief as there is no water on this hole to play havoc with your mind. However, trees on both sides mean you need to hit a straight ball. The hole doglegs to the right at the landing area and goes uphill toward the green. You should be hitting a short iron for your third, and thus hopefully will have a birdie chance with which to end your round.
In addition to the 18-hole course, Eagle Point offers one of the best driving ranges around. It is lighted and thus is very popular in spring and summer evenings. It has an expansive teeing area and is framed by a high fence separating it from the course and an access road.
A person that has always impressed me at Eagle Point is head golf professional Jim Wise. We have played our golf tour events across the Birmingham area for the past seven years and this has included an event at Eagle Point each year.
Wise is meticulous when he runs a tournament and I always leave there pleased with the event. That’s in large measure due to Jim, director of golf Valerie Vaughn, and the entire Eagle Point staff.