Shortly after I moved to the US and started playing golf as a teenager, I went to work at a private country club. It was my indoctrination into golf club communities, and I used to stare with great envy at the immaculate homes that lined many of the fairways within the golf community and wondered what it would be like to live on the golf course.
Since then, I have been blessed to live on a golf course, both as a resident and as a member. The ability to walk out the back door on any given sunshiny day and play a few holes in the evening or to take the golf cart down to the driving range to hit balls until my heart’s content is something I wish every serious golfer could enjoy at some point. Being able to go ball-hawking at any time is something that shouldn’t be overlooked either!
One of the courses we lived at years ago was on shaky ground financially and I sincerely felt sorry for the residents. After all, buying a home on the golf course is one thing but having the course shut down is unimaginable. To think what it would do to property values, not to mention one’s golf game.
I mention all of this for one reason. I recently had the opportunity to play “mountain golf” in Alabama at Heatherwood Country Club. Heatherwood is a residential golf community in Hoover, AL that started accepting residents in 1984. Large, majestic golf front homes line many of the fairways; homes that easily start at around $500,000. The golf course followed soon after and opened as a private country club in 1986. Arthur Davis created the original layout and In 2001 John LaFoy did a complete rebuild.
The course offers golfers 4 sets of tees and plays 6,351 yards from the Back Tees. The course rating is 70.9 with a slope of 141. At 6,000 yards (69.0/135), the Gold Tees offer a good challenge and allow you to leave with some dignity intact. Ladies will have a great time playing the Green Tees (4,887/67.9/132).
With the depression that ensued in 2008, the course shut down because of financial difficulties. Heatherwood reopened in 2017 as a semi-private facility and several renovations and improvements were made including a new double-row irrigation system, greens, and bunkers. About 100 local homeowners and other stakeholders pooled funds to purchase the property, pay off outstanding debts, and perform the work necessary to re-open the club. The property was not in as bad of shape as one might expect after eight years of dormancy, due in part to homeowners voluntarily mowing the course behind their homes and performing other maintenance. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough, and the course closed for a second time.
In April 2020 the facility was purchased by another group of investors and reopened that August. As of April 2022, the course is going strong and rounds are growing steadily.
Over the years, Heatherwood has played host to numerous national, local, and professional events. The course is laid out over gently rolling and cantered fairways which are a combination of premier Bermuda grasses. Heatherwood’s TifEagle Bermuda greens are some of the best in the area. As you make your way around this par 72 layout, you’ll encounter narrow fairways and strategically placed bunkers.
The golf course is full of memorable holes. Number 2 is short par 3 that plays considerably less than the 159 yards stated on the scorecard. The hole plays downhill into a green that is a lot wider than it is deep and is well-protected front and left by deep bunkers that sit about 5 feet below the putting surface which has some good slope and undulation to it.
Number 6 is a short, risk/reward par 4 that plays 245 yards from the Blue Tees and slightly uphill. Trees line either side of the fairway and reaching the green requires a well-struck shot that avoids the trees. There’s a lot of mounding in the fairway although it seems to flatten out up by the green. There’s a mischievous little pot bunker in the front and another to the left of the green.
Numbers 9 and 10 are back-to-back par 5s which are two of the tougher holes on the course. Number 9 is a dogleg left that plays 463 yards from the Blue Tees. The winding fairway is like a narrow corridor slinking its way uphill. The hole may seem short, but it plays uphill all the way as it continues to turn left. A good drive down the right side may give you a peek of the green; miss the fairway off the tee and you are likely hitting three off the tee. Deep bunkers guard the front of the green and where there are no bunkers there is a lot of mounding. From the fairway below you cannot see the green; it’s long, narrow, and has a lot of undulation.
Number 10 is the most interesting hole on the golf course. At 455 yards it’s really just a long par 4 but the way that it’s laid out, it’s a three-shot hole for many players. From the Blue tees, you run out of fairway at about 330 yards out. From there it’s about a 130-yard carry over a large gorge. Two small pot bunkers front the green. A good drive will leave around 200 – 210 yards over the gorge and into the green. The choice is yours! Before leaving the tee box, walk to the back tees and take in the view. You can see for miles.
Number 15 is a 365-yard par 4 that is rather interesting. Your tee shot doesn’t need to travel much more than a couple of hundred yards to the corner of the dogleg. From there, you’ll have an approach shot that plays downhill into a long, small green with a very picturesque lake in the background.
After your round, unwind with your favorite adult beverage in Heatherwood’s Lounge. They offer up huge servings of your favorite burgers, salads, and sandwiches too.
The clubhouse at Heatherwood Country Club is the perfect venue for weddings and special events. The banquet room features a dance floor and access to a spacious outdoor patio. The goal is to make the clubhouse the hub of the community, hosting social events and neighborhood association meetings. He also wants to reiterate that Heatherwood Golf and Country Club is no longer a private facility; everyone is free to come out, play the golf course and enjoy the clubhouse and club amenities.
To book your next round of golf, a wedding, family reunion, or just enjoy a good meal, visit Heatherwood online or give them a call at 205-502-4101.