My Town: Hubert Green
A former major champ returned to his birthplace and fell in love again with a city flush with charm
Golf résumé: Turned pro in 1969; won 19 times on the PGA Tour in 26 years, including '77 U.S. Open, '85 PGA; four senior wins.
Fight of his life: Diagnosed with oral cancer in 2003; lost 43 pounds from radiation/chemotherapy.
Course Management: During a casual round Green likes to hit multiple balls from a spot. "Problem is," he jokes, "no one wants to play with me."
In Birmingham's Five Points South section there are a few restaurants worth trying. Bottega Restaurant and Café serves a little of everything (pan- roasted chicken to braised rabbit cacciatore). Hot and Hot Fish Club has great seafood. High-lands Bar and Grill is a nice upscale place, and there's a good French bistro called Chez FonFon...Another restaurant I like in the Homewood section of town is Do-DI-Yos. It's a Greek place that has several Mediterranean dishes.
The Alabama Theatre is a classic old movie hall from the 1920s that's been restored, right down to the vintage organ. They show films occasionally and have performances by bands, orchestras and ballet companies.
Hubert Green spent his youth at CC of Birmingham, honing a swing that would earn him a place in the World Golf Hall of Fame. Often he spotted a group of men inside the clubhouse playing cards. "I used to laugh at these old guys there all the time," he recalled, only to chuckle himself. "Now I'm one of them."
Since being treated for oral cancer in the early 2000s, Green, 63, doesn't play much golf. Yet he has become a regular at the club's afternoon bridge game.
If something good came from Green's illness, it was the chance to return to his birthplace in 2004. "Birmingham has this beautiful rolling terrain," said Green of Alabama's largest city. "It's a great place to live."
It's not much of a surprise, seeing that I'm a member at CC of Birmingham and at Shoal Creek CC, but I think both courses are among the area's best. They're challenging to better players but aren't so difficult as to make you want to give up the game.
I'd throw Greystone G&CC into that category, too. The Founders Course there hosted a Champions Tour event from 1992-2005, and it was always one of the stops that the guys spoke of fondly.
Just outside of the city is Limestone Springs GC, a public facility Jerry Pate designed that opened a little more than 10 years ago. It's carved into the mountains and has some great views. People who play there have nothing but good things to say about the course.
WHERE TO STAY
The best hotel in the area is the Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort. You've got access to two Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail facilities, plus it's got about every amenity you can think of...Another place to consider is the Wynfrey Hotel, about 15 minutes from down-town. It's a quaint building in and of itself, and it's adjacent to a mall with lots of shopping and other activities.
Birmingham used to be a big steel town, and in the early 1900s, the world's largest cast- iron statue was made there. It represents Vulcan, the god of fire, and overlooks the city as part of Vulcan Park and Museum...Arlington Antebellum Home & Gardens is a sprawling Southern mansion from the 1840s that was spared destruction by Union forces during the Civil War...Birmingham Botanical Gardens has more than 10,000 different plants and is home to the largest public horticulture library in the country...A neat place to take kids if you're traveling with the family is the McWane Science Center. It's downtown and has all sorts of interactive exhibits to keep their attention.
The Alabama Theatre is a classic old movie hall from the 1920s that's been restored (above, courtesy of theatre). The world's largest iron statue overlooks the city as part of Vulcan Park and Museum (below, courtesy of museum).