At the risk of sounding like the two-faced ferry operator in The Outlaw Josey Wales, I need to practice these two catchphrases for my upcoming trip to the RTJ Golf Trail in Alabama.RTJ  We are visiting during the second week in October and our travels will take us from Birmingham (Tide country) to Auburn/Opelika (Tigers) and cover seven days and five rounds.  I’ve done some preliminary research and believe that the courses we’ve selected are among the finest on the trail.  The line-up:

  1. Ross Bridge, Hoover
  2. Oxmoor Valley – Ridge course, Birmingham
  3. Oxmoor Valley – Valley course, Birmingham
  4. Grand National – Links course, Opelika
  5. Grand National – Lakes course, Opelika

The 800 mile trek from DC to Birmingham is a haul and we’ve decided to fly instead of drive.  Our thoughts were to stay/play at as many courses in the same areas and minimize the travel between sites.  The RTJ Trail has partnered with some Renaissance and Marriott resorts on site and will book a stay-play package for you, or they offer you the option of doing your own hotel reservations, as we have done.  Full course reviews are coming for each site, as well as an evaluation of our travel and booking strategy.  Right now I’m looking for any travel insights, course playing tips, or advice on good barbeque joints along the trail; please send!

Have you ever tried to peak your game for a golf trip?  My advice is not to try too hard because you end up traveling with too many mechanical swing thoughts, and even though the airlines don’t charge for them, they are more costly than most baggage fees.  As this trip gets closer, I’m thinking of trying to just play as much as I can and not worry too much about practice.  Usually, I play better the day after I practice, but yesterday’s outlier round gave me great hope on the “play only” strategy.  I hadn’t touched a club in over a week and went out cold for a game in the wind and rain at Rattlewood.  I hit about 20 balls, rolled a dozen 3-foot putts and teed it up.  Four hours later, I returned soaking wet, but had hit 14 greens and shot even par for my best round of the year.  Strange game.  I have noticed a marked improvement in my ball striking and have hit double-digit GIR in six of my last eight rounds.  I may be onto a fundamental “ah ha” discovery but it’s too early to tell.  The trip will provide a great opportunity to test my theory and I’ll fill you in upon my return.

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