Cambrian Ridge, Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

Cambrian Ridge, located in northwest Greenville, Butler County, is a 36-hole golf course that opened in October 1993 as the sixth site on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail (The Trail). It is four miles west of I-65, and 40 minutes south of Montgomery, Montgomery County. The course was developed by the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA). Cambrian Ridge is named for the underlying geological feature formed some 500 million years ago where the golf complex was built.

Cambrian Ridge The courses’ names reflect the major natural features found there, including hills and valleys with extreme elevation changes unusual for south Alabama. Giant loblolly pines dominate Loblolly Nine, Canyon Nine winds through a canyon, and Sherling Nine plays around Lake Sherling. A 50-yard-wide gorge with ochre boulders splits Sherling’s 9th hole and Canyon’s 9th hole. The Short Course Nine features trees with Spanish moss as it traverses downhill and around the lake. Several greens are fronted by ponds, and creeks flow throughout the property. A 22,000-square-foot clubhouse has a golf shop, dining room, locker room, veranda, and cart storage. The clubhouse sits on the highest point for miles and offers striking views of the surrounding terrain, as does the practice range. There is no RSA hotel affiliated with this golf complex.

In 1988, the Greenville City Council established a Golf Course Feasibility Committee that included future mayor Dexter McClendon and began work on securing a golf course for Sherling Lake Park. (The state of Alabama had transferred title to this 278-acre park to Greenville in 1970, stipulating that it remain a recreational area.) In late 1990, Mayor Ernie Smith invited RSA chief executive officer David G. Bronner to consider the property for a site on The Trail. Bronner approved of the site and began negotiations to develop a 36-hole golf complex there. In December 1991, after many negotiations, an agreement was reached.

Cambrian Ridge Aerial View Greenville officials worked with Butler County and the state to improve Alabama Highways 185 and 263 and County Roads 44 and 73 to provide better access to the site and extend utilities to the golf complex. The city obtained an agreement through the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to allow for golf holes around Sherling Lake and to develop other recreational activities surrounding what is known as Upper Lake. There, camp sites, comfort stations, boat rentals, picnic shelters, playground equipment, and walking trails were constructed and named Sherling Lake Park and Campground, operated by the city. The entire property was annexed into the Greenville city limits in 1993.

RSA purchased 500 acres near Sherling Lake Park and used 230 acres for 18 golf holes at the complex’s two main courses—Canyon and Loblolly Nines—and 270 acres for residential and commercial development in the future. Two other nine-hole courses, Sherling and Short Nines, were built on 150 acres leased from the city at no cost.

Employees at Hyundai, some 30 minutes to the north, and those at its nearby supplying companies, play regularly at this site. Commercial development has occurred at Greenville’s Exit 130 on Interstate-65 since this complex opened and has included restaurants, motels, and retail outlets. Greenville’s collection of lodging and sales taxes has increased significantly since the opening of Cambrian Ridge. This increased revenue helped finance a new high school.

Additional Resources

Fagan, Mark. The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail: Its History and Economic Impact. Montgomery, Ala.: NewSouth Books, 2016.

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