The Alabama Historical Commission added 15 properties to the Alabama Monuments and Heritage Register in mid-December, including the Shoal Creek Golf Course.
Hall Thompson built the Shoal Creek Golf Course in 1974, fulfilling his dream of building his own golf course. Thompson hired professional golfer and emerging course designer Jack Nicklaus to set the course. Nicklaus had collaborated in the design of his home state course, Muirfield Village, in Dublin, Ohio, which opened in 1974, and had designed a course in Toronto. However, Shoal Creek was the first course that Nicklaus designed on his own in the United States.
The property and its buildings are an example of the traditional new colonial style that was popularized in the mid to late 1970s with the celebration of the country’s bicentennial. Shoal Creek is also an example of a highly designed planned landscape. Shoal Creek was designed to be a golf club first and then a real estate development. Thompson prioritized the route of the course and wanted residence sites organically dispersed around the course.
Shoal Creek has revolutionized golf greens in the Southeast. Thompson designed the landscape to support the growth of curved grass, a grass in great demand for golf greens, but previously considered unsustainable in the southeast climate. A combination of ingenuity in irrigation and drainage, man-made lakes and dams with a pump system that could redirect water upward made this possible. As a result, Augusta National followed suit and replaced its greens with curved grass in 1981.
The period of significance extends from 1974, when design and construction began, until 1990, when the club hosted the 72nd Annual Professional Golfers Association (PGA) of America Tournament. Media surrounding the event pointed out that the course had never been fully integrated. This media coverage has led to the racial integration of private clubs and golf courses across the country, including Shoal Creek.
Shoal Creek is listed in the Alabama Register for its recreational and social history and for its significant design.
The Alabama Historical Commission created the Alabama Monuments and Heritage Register to recognize buildings, structures, sites, objects, and neighborhoods of historic, architectural and / or archaeological significance.
Nominations can be submitted by anyone to the Alabama Historical Commission. A staff review committee determines whether the nominated property meets the established criteria, and the property is added to the register if the criteria are met. The designation is honorary and does not limit what an owner can do with the property.