187. Country Club of Birmingham (West)
Donald Ross (1929) / Pete Dye (2009)
Starting 40 years ago, the Country Club of Birmingham’s West Course, one of two Donald Ross designs at the club, was repeatedly ranked on Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest. Then it fell off in 1984. Pete Dye convinced the club that he could restore the Ross glory to its West Course, but sent his younger son, P.B., to the course. P.B. proceeded to turn the turfgrass black with grass-killing chemicals, then stirred up clouds of red dust gouging his bulldozer into every tee, fairway and green. When he was finished, the West had become a P.B. Dye design, and some members were so unhappy, they didn’t talk to Pete for years. A decade ago, Pete finally talked his way back into the club’s good graces and promised “to fix things.” He brought in a new crew, toned done some of the more outrageous features of P.B., and made it more playable. Today, Birmingham West is still not back to being a Donald Ross design, but it sure is an authentic Pete Dye design.
100 Greatest/Second 100 Greatest History: Ranked on America’s 100 Greatest, 1967 through 1986. Ranked on America’s Second 100 Greatest, 2017 to current. Highest ranking: Fourth 10, 1969-1970. Previous ranking: No. 173
Panelist comments, Country Club of Birmingham (West):
“The West Course at the Country Club of Birmingham is a classic Ross design. You can definitely see the touches of Trent Jones and Dye on the golf course from over the years as well. The mounding framing the greens throughout the course adds to both the aesthetics and the memorability as it provides a unique setting as well as a continuity in style throughout the course. There are several other features that add to the aesthetics such as the grass faced bunkers, hazard styles, exposed rock, and stone bridges throughout the course.”
“What a really good golf course. There were many very well designed golf holes that made the golfer think thru what to do and to perform well in order to score. There were not many holes on this golf course that were what I would call fairly easy holes; almost every golf hole had its challenges and from tee to green.”
“The course is somewhat old style sitting in middle of Birmingham and designed a fairly long time ago by Donald Ross, with updates by Robert Trent Jones and Pete Dye over the years. Great pedigree — this is a really good test of golf.”