When George Sides was the mayor of Dora and although he was not a golfer, he did recognized the need for a golf course within the city limits and he made it happen. Hence Horse Creek Golf Course came to fruition in late summer of last year, a couple of years after ground was broken in the spring of 1998.
What is a little different about this course found off of Highway 78, about 35 minutes from downtown Birmingham and 16 miles from Jasper, is that it was built by city employees. Robert Kirk, a course architect based in Birmingham, designed the layout and kept a close eye on the project, but it was constructed internally by the city.
Horse Creek is the original name of the community dating back to 1884. In the 1890’s it became known as Sharon, before taking its’ present name of Dora in 1906. Dora is a city of only 2300 people so the course must rely upon other local communities and the people from Birmingham to support it.
The golf course land was owned originally by Drummond Company. They sold it to local landowner Gene Taylor who agreed to sell the land to the city as long as they built a golf course on it. Sides initiated a bond issue to finance the acquisition and they were on their way.
He contacted Kirk.He said he would build it the way we wanted it built and he did. He oversaw the construction right through, together with our General Manager Jack Bergsieker.In a touch of irony, Bergsieker has an engineering background and used to work for Drummond Company.
This is something the city council and myself have envisioned for the last six to eight years. This community needed a daily fee golf course and we wanted to accomplish that.
The course is situated on a reclaimed strip mine, hence the terrain is a little barren in places, but this does provide some relief to the property, especially on the back nine which features multiple water hazards and elevation changes.
They are operating out of a temporary clubhouse, with future plans calling for a permanent building within the next three years. Let’s take a look at a few of the holes.
All four sets of tee markers are shaped fittingly enough as horseshoes (the prongs face up for good luck, I noted). From the back horseshoes of this par 72 course it measures a healthy 6883 yards down to a more playable distance for most players from the whites (6141 yards).
The front nine is fairly straightforward and winds its way through trees for the first four holes. These holes shouldn’t present the golfer too many problems. No. 5 is a fun par 3 which provides a panoramic view of much of the property and numerous holes. It shows 214 yards on the card from the back tee, but it won’t play anywhere near this yardage as it is straight downhill to large green guarded by two green side bunkers.
The next three holes are more open and indicative of the openness of much of the terrain. You then end the front nine with a challenging par 4, which plays uphill and is sure to be one of the lowest handicap holes.
Head to the back nine and the course takes on a completely different character and look. Water hazards which are few and far between on the front nine are far more prevalent on the inward nine and hence the chance of getting into trouble is heightened.
No. 11 is an interesting par 4 in that it has a double fairway that steps down from the left half to the right half quite distinctly. Water off to the right is in play for a tee shot missed on this side. The hole is by no means long, but it is tricky with more watery trouble around the green.
No. 13 is probably the highest point on the golf course and this par 5 is played along a ridge which drops off on both sides. However, it is not terribly narrow, but will punish a wayward shot severely. Two well played and well placed shots will leave you a good birdie chance.
On the next three holes water is very much a constant. No. 15 is a very short par 4 and it’s yardage would indicate that a big hitter may be able to drive the green. However, all but the most foolhardy golfers will hit driver on this hole as the landing area by the green is all but non-existent with water short and right and a steep slope left. Hit 5-iron, wedge and set up a birdie that way.
On the sixteenth you have to deal with the same water off the tee, but it is not really in play. However, water also eats into the left side of the raised green.
No. 17 will be a challenging par with water in play down the right side on this blind tee shot. Aim left and trust your aim as there is more than adequate room on this side. Your second shot will be played to a sunken green, with water still off to the right.
The closing hole is a legitimate three-shot par 5. One of the few holes on this side not to feature a water hazard, it calls for uphill second and third shots to a long, undulating green.
With a very reasonable green fee and accommodating staff, Horse Creek is a fun place to play golf that won’t wipe out your wallet. There’s nothing wrong with that. Give it a try.
by Ian Thompson
Phone => (205) 648-1499
1745 Highway 78
Dora, AL 35062