GOLF Magazine names Highland Park Golf Course to its 30 best U.S. municipal golf courses list

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Highland Park Golf Course
Sunrise on Highland Park Golf Course on June 21, 2021. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

Birmingham’s Highland Park Golf Course, the state of Alabama’s oldest public golf course, was recently named to GOLF Magazine’s list of the “30 Best Municipal Golf Courses in America.”

This is a big deal. GOLF magazine is considered the nation’s premier golf publication with 4.5 million magazine readers and 7.7 million monthly unique visitors to its digital platform golf.com.

About the Highland Park Golf Course

Highland Park
Entrance at Highland Park Golf Course. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

The golf course property is owned by the City of Birmingham, while Highland Park Golf, LLC and it’s managing partner Bob Barrett own the long-term lease. The operation is managed by Honours Golf, a division of Troon. 

Highland Park Golf Course’s history dates back to 1903, when Nick Thompson designed the 18-hole course. According to Bhamwiki, at that time it was originally built as the Birmingham Country Club on the site of Lakeview Park.

Lakeview Park and Lake 1890s
Lakeview Park on Birmingham’s Southside in 1890s. Photo courtesy of Bhamwiki.com

When the Country Club moved to Mountain Brook in 1927, the club sold the course to the city, which opened it for public use.  The course was named after Charley Boswell, a native of Birmingham, former Alabama football player and a blind golf champion in the 1950s.

In 1998, the course underwent a significant rejuvenation and was renovated by Honours Golf Founder Bob Barrett and golf course designer Bob Cupp. Recently in  2019/early 2020, the course was again updated with renovation work focusing on modernizing golf course bunkers and putting surfaces. 

Two of the most famous golfers in the history of the game are connected to the course. 

In 1916, Bobby Jones won the Birmingham Country Club Invitational at Highland Park at the age of 14. 

In 2001, Tiger Woods played the course when he held a junior golf clinic through his foundation.

A Gem in the Middle of Birmingham’s Southside

Highland Park’s  recent designation is a significant accomplishment.

“I am so proud and honored to have Highland Park recognized on a list that also includes some of the top golf courses in the world, including Bethpage Black in New York and Torrey Pines in California,” said Barrett.

This publication is very serious about ranking top courses. In fact, GOLF is known for its annual GOLF’s world and U.S.TOP 100 courses ranking.

Golfers at Highland Park Golf Course
Highland Park Golf Course was named one of the 30 best municipal golf courses in America. Phot via Pat Byington for Bham Now

The 30 Best Municipal Golf Courses in America list was determined by GOLF’s expert panel of raters. Raters points were assigned to arrive at an average score for each course, then GOLF divided its aggregate score by the number of votes. From those point tallies, the courses were then ranked accordingly. The key to the process is the experience and expertise of GOLF Magazine’s panel, hailing from 15 nations and all the worldwide golf meccas, each of the 97 handpicked panelists has a keen eye for architecture, both regionally and globally.

“We’re thrilled to be included in GOLF’s ranking of top municipal courses,” said Highland Park Golf Course’s Director of Golf Evan Godfrey, PGA. “The public/private partnership with the City of Birmingham and Honours Golf is outstanding. The recent renovation elevated the experience to a new level.”

In a recent interview with Godfrey, he told us use of the  nearly 5900 yards par 70 historic course has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. On an average year, the municipal course has 35,000 to 36,000 starts, meaning people beginning a round of nine or 18 holes. They also have a very active driving range and learning center which welcomes another 20,000 visitors.

“We are blessed to have great owners and a great management team with Bob Barrett, Honours Golf and Troon Golf.  We put a major focus on customer service, and course conditioning. What also got us this recognition is Mr. Barrett’s eye for the design of the course. They took a course we can’t expand and make bigger and really made it a great 6000 yard layout.”

Highland Park Golf Course
Highland Park Golf Course was named one of the 30 best municipal golf courses in America. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

Best View in Town

In addition to making the prestigious GOLF magazine best municipal golf course list, we’ve been told Highland Park Golf Course has one of the best views of the Birmingham skyline. Thanks to a  new back tee on the par-4 15th on the property’s highest point, you can now get a fantastic view of the Magic City.

How to Play on the Course

Want to play on one the nation’s best municipal golf courses? Visit www.highlandparkgolf.com or call 205-322-1902.

Be sure to tell what you think of the Highland Park Golf Course  and tag us on social media @bhamnow describing  your favorite memories and photos.

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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