Saturday, March 23, 2013

JudgeService "Y'all have a good time now," the starter says, sparing us the usual first-tee soliloquy about 90-degree cart rules and the like. It's a light, Southern send-off, and it perfectly sets the tone at a friendly place where the only thing they lay on thick is the Alabama drawl, y'all.

Pace of Play This is not a wide-open course that easily forgives errant tee shots. The aptly named Judge can be penal. It's longer than War and Peace, features more than a few slender fairways, and peril awaits on 14 holes that adjoin water. Expect your round to last at least four and a half hours.

Quality With big greens, sprawling fairway bunkers, and long, forced carries off many tees, this course is great for risk-reward-loving players who can live with punished mis-hits. And the Alabama River's beautiful backwaters give this heart-of-Dixie course a winning sense of place.

Value The tough but playable holes and gorgeous views make this perhaps the best deal on the RTJ Trail. Twilight rates let you play for less than $50, about what you'd shell out for a cart and a bucket of balls at many top resorts. Here, it gets you on one of the highest-rated public tracks in Alabama.

Verdict If the course was judged by a jury of its peers, some might deem it too penal for the average player. Our ruling? Play it from the right tees—hey, there's no shame in using the 5,910-yard whites—and you'll have a blast on an entertaining layout that delivers one of the best bargains in the game.

Capitol Hill (The Judge) Prattville, Ala.
7,813 yards, par 72
Green fees: $71-$92
334-285-1114, (Photo: Michael Clemmer)

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