The Takeaway: With a routing chock full of dramatic elevation changes, numerous water hazards, and memorable shots, Cambrian Ridge is one of the best stops of the RTJ Golf Trail. The course features plenty of elevated tees and large greens that are in great shape. You won’t be disappointed with this stop on the trail. Grade B+
Designer: Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1993
Cost: $65.00 and up depending on the season Click for current rates
Phone Number: 334.382.9787
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Cambrian Ridge (Canyon/Sherling)'s official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 101 SunBelt Parkway, Greenville, Alabama 36037 – UNITED STATES
Accolades: Ranked 4th in Alabama by Golf Course Gurus.
What to Expect: One of the more popular and acclaimed stops on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Cambrian Ridge sports 27 holes of full length golf and nine holes on the Short course. The Canyon and Sherling nines combine to create the best 18 holes on the property with the Loblolly nine offering an alternative set of holes to play. After the opening two holes on the Sherling nine I was a bit worried that Cambrian Ridge wasn’t going to live up to the hype, but as soon as I stepped on the 3rd tee everything changed and the fun ramped up fast. From the 3rd hole on, players are introduced to tons of elevation changes, water on several of the holes, and dramatic shots to execute at every turn. The fairways are tree lined while the greens are maintained in excellent condition and are fast enough to constantly be testing your short game, but to score well you will need to handle plenty of carries and execute shots from tilted lies. Every hole throughout the routing is pretty unique and memorable although each of the closing holes play similarly as short par fours that are effectively longer than the scorecard indicates as they climb uphill back towards the clubhouse. Virtually everyone that comes to Cambrian Ridge is going to take a golf cart unless they are training for a mountain climbing expedition, but those elevation changes are a lot of the fun.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 4th (Sherling) Hole – 169 Yard Par 3 – Snuggled into the southern tip of Sherling Lake, the 4th is a beautiful one-shotter that will surely put a smile on your face. Playing at a very manageable distance, players can take dead aim at virtually any pin location although the small bunker in the front center of the green may make you think twice about a flag on that line since there isn't quite as much green depth to work with. This is simply a beautiful hole that begins the introduction to some fantastic holes on Sherling Lake.
Best Par 3: 8th (Canyon) Hole – 190 Yards – The eve to the finale of your 18 holes at Cambrian Ridge if you started on the Sherling nine, the last one-shotter on Canyon is another beautiful offering. The tee shot plays over the water to a water, but shallow, green that is fronted by a butterfly shaped bunker that is about half the size of the entire putting surface. While the right side is devoid of any bunker trouble, that portion of the green also acts like a peninsula getting out into the water are offering little forgiveness to any shot that isn't spot on. Bailing out left is an option to any pin placement here, but did you really come to the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail to bail out? Of course not! So make a good swing and pick up a birdie late in your round.
Best Par 4: 5th (Sherling) Hole – 360 Yards – Perhaps the best hole on the loaded Sherling nine, this 360 yarder is a lot tougher than meets the eye. The tee shot plays to a fairway that is curling to the left around the lake and requires players to figure out how much of the water to challenge. If you play it chicken by bailing out to the right you'll be left with a side hill shot that is flanked by water on two sides with little confidence on what flight your ball will take. If you get too aggressive off the tee then your ball may never find the fairway and simply take a dive to the bottom of Lake Sherling. Precision and distance control are mandatory on both the tee shot and subsequent approach shot which is a perfect combination on a hole of this length.
Best Par 5: 8th (Sherling) Hole – 636 Yards – The longest hole at Cambrian Ridge greets you here and presents itself as a true three shot hole. A 260 yard carry is required to clear the center bunker, but if you don't have that in you then there is fairway afforded to each side of the sand. From there it is a matter of hitting to your favorite yardage to set up the critical approach shot. The hole plays downhill from tee to green so take that into account when calculating your yardages so that you can hit your number just right. The green is only 12 yards wide in the front and rear thirds but balloons to nearly double that in the middle, so hitting for the center of the green is always a good idea on your third shot that must carry the water separating the fairway from the putting surface. Managing elevation changes, water, and bunkers is what Cambrian Ridge is all about; the better you do it, the better you should score.
Birdie Time: 7th (Canyon) Hole – 522 Yard Par 5 – The shortest par five on the course yields the most consistent place to throw a birdie on your card, and that's what you find here at the 7th on Canyon. The tee shot features a fairway bunker on the right and then another one on the left further down. If you can successfully stay out of those then you'll have the green light to take a rip at the green in two. The fairway slopes slightly from left to right so you'll want to take aim at the left edge of the bunker and let the ball work its way over the putting surface which will also reduce your chances of finding the bunker fronting the right half of the green. Reaching this green in two isn't required for having a short birdie attempt because there are no bunkers 80 - 150 yards from the green, so you can always layup to your favorite yardage and take dead aim from there. Things don't get too crazy on the green so roll your putt with some confidence and take a stroke back from Old Man Par.
Bogey Beware: 1st (Canyon) Hole – 501 Yard Par 4 – Only 21 yards shorter than the par five 7th at Canyon, the opening hole on this nine gives you one less stroke to hole out for a par. Fortunately the hole plays well downhill and will add plenty of yards to your tee shot, but that is also a lot more hangtime for tee shots to curve off line after leaving your driver. Exceptionally long drives could find the creek waiting at the bottom of the fairway but most players will be left with an awkward downhill lie while trying to hit to a raised green; one of the toughest shots in golf. Hitting this green in two is an absolute bear and the bunker fronting the right side of the putting surface will make things are the more difficult if you find it. The tee shot here is a ton of fun and if you can execute a great one you'll be in decent shape, but if you miss the fairway then a bogey is a virtual given.