Shoal Creek

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It was on a frigid December day in 1974 that Hall Thompson and Harald Lassen Jr. sat next to Dunnavant Road in Shelby County, Ala., and awaited the arrival of the greatest golfer who ever lived. When Jack Nicklaus first barreled into the thick woods known now only as Shoal Creek, he was less than thrilled. As the three men tore through the cold winter air in an old Korean-War vintage Jeep, Nicklaus gazed at the thick patches of trees that flooded the area and thought the land might be unsuitable for the kind of golf course they were planning. When he got home and reviewed the property, he quickly realized he had been wrong. Phoning Thompson, Nicklaus claimed there was room for not one but two courses. Thompson quickly shot down the idea. "We only want one golf course," he said. "But we want to make it a superior one."

And they did. Opening on November 1, 1977, Shoal Creek hosted three U.S. Open Champions to compete in the inaugural ceremonial round: three-time Open Champion Nicklaus, 1976 Open Champion Jerry Pate and 1977 Open Champion Hubert Green. When it was all said and done, Pate edged Nicklaus by two strokes, and the crowd left impressed with both the design of the course and the play of the three champions. Shoal Creek would go on to host a number of historical events, including the 1984 PGA Championship, won by a determined and focused Lee Trevino. In 1990, the PGA Championship returned, and this time Wayne Grady was able to stave off runner-up Fred Couples for the win. Shoal Creek has hosted a number of other important events as well, including the 1986 U.S. Amateur Championship. In 1994, a young golfer named Tiger Woods helped Stanford win Jerry Pate's National Intercollegiate with a tournament-best individual score of 206. Having hosted some of the greatest legends ever to play the game, Shoal Creek remains one of the most attractive golf courses in the country.