“U.S. Open champion Hubert Green can be pardoned for a bogey 4…the scenery got in his eyes during his tee shot on the 189-yard hole guarded by water, wind and sand and shelter by Double Oak Mountain dressed in gorgeous hues for the occasion.”
These words appeared in a
caption beneath a photograph of Green as he teed off on the par-3 fifth
hole during the ceremonial opening of Shoal Creek.
Shoal Creek, Hall Thompson, fondly remembered the photo and caption.
“It wasn’t on the front of the sports page, it was on the front page;
page 1. That meant a lot to me.”
So began the official opening
of Shoal Creek on Tuesday, November 1, 1977 when Green, another local
tour player, Jerry Pate, and designer of Shoal Creek and the greatest
golfer of all time Jack Nicklaus played before an enthusiastic crowd.
But this was a far cry from the first day Thompson envisioned building his own golf course.
was made public in September 1975 that Shoal Creek would be designed by
Nicklaus, already by that time a course architect of some note, having
his name on 20 courses prior to Shoal Creek, including his home course
of Muirfield Village in Columbus, Ohio.
Thompson Realty Company,
made the announcement on September 15, 1975 that he would design the
course in Shelby County, some 15 miles from downtown Birmingham.
course was built on a spectacular piece of property, 1,550 acres
between Oak Mountain and Double Oak Mountain to be precise. It was
acquired by Hall Thompson from the late Hugh Daniel, and the two
gentlemen shook hands on the agreement, contingent on the proviso that a
superior golf course could be crafted there. Thompson didn’t want
simply a championship golf course, as he argued there were already
enough of those in Birmingham, rather a superior championship course
that one day might attract a national amateur or it’s like.
“It would be our fondest dream to attract an event such as the U.S. Amateur, if the course is worthy enough,” he said.