The History of Shoal Creek

“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.

Founder of 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.

It 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.

The 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.