Steve Lowery has always been a huge fan of Alabama football. His grandfather, Smokey Harper, worked for legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. So it only figures that a professional golfer who can live anywhere in the United States, prefers to reside in Birmingham just 60 miles from the front door of Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Lowery was born in Birmingham in 1960 and was a successful junior golfer in the area before making his way to college at Alabama. After turning professional in 1983, Lowery lived in the Orlando area but he eventually returned to his hometown, a centrally-located southeastern city known for its Southern charm.
This week, the 1982-83 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year for the Crimson Tide, will have strong support from the locals when he tees it up in his first major championship, the Regions Tradition at Shoal Creek, in his rookie season on the Champions Tour . The three-time PGA TOUR winner recently sat down with Champions Tour Media Official Phil Stambaugh for a personalized tour of why he thinks Birmingham is such a special place to live. To learn more about Lowery, check out his Q&A with the Champions Tour.
The terrain in our area is fabulous for golf courses and we are lucky to have some really good public courses in our area. I'd recommend FarmLinks near Sylacauga. It's about 40 minutes from my house, south of Birmingham. In addition to a first-rate course, they have deluxe lodging options and great fishing as well as a 5-stand clay shooting range and unique hunting adventures. I also like Limestone Springs. It's a Jerry-Pate designed layout north of downtown. It offers some of the most dramatic elevations and picturesque views in the state and features one of Alabama's top rated championship golf courses.
Shoal Creek is one of the best courses in the nation and is the venue for the Regions Tradition, the first of our major championships on the Champions Tour. This Jack Nicklaus-designed course hosted both the 1984 and 1990 PGA Championship as well as the 1986 U.S. Amateur. When I'm home, I play most of my golf at Greystone in Hoover. The Founder's course hosted the old Bruno's Memorial Classic for 14 years and their second course, The Legacy, is also a really good layout.
If you are bringing your family to Birmingham, I suggest staying at The Wynfrey Hotel next to the Riverchase Galleria. In addition to having a friendly staff and clean comfortable rooms in a great location, you've got plenty of options with great shopping and also a wide variety of restaurants in the area. For those coming to the area for golf, college football or a business trip, there's also a full-service Marriott on Highway 280 and a Hilton in the Colonnade office park that is nice and convenient.
My wife and I eat lots of sushi and Thai Emerald off of Highway 280 is our favorite spot. For Italian food, you might want to try Bottega near the University of Alabama-Birmingham campus. Another of chef Frank Stitt's premier dining establishments in Birmingham is the Highlands Bar & Grill, located in the Five Points area of the city. The cuisine combines ingredients of the American South with classic dishes from the south of France. No visit to Birmingham would be complete with a trip to Dreamland Bar-B-Que. The original is located in Tuscaloosa, but the location near downtown serves the same great ribs.
Birmingham is a city that was forged on the steel business so visitors to the area need to make sure they take in Vulcan Park and Museum, located in the shadow of Red Mountain. Vulcan, Birmingham's colossal statue is the world's largest cast iron statue and considered one of the most memorable works of civic art in the United States. Designed by Italian artist Giuseppe Moretti and cast from local iron in 1904, it has overlooked the urban landscape of Alabama's largest city since the 1930s. There's also the Birmingham Zoo, Alabama's most popular attraction, with approximately 750 animals of 250 species from six continents. There's also the Barber Motorsports Park and Birmingham, being the "Football Capital of the South", is located in close proximity to a number of major college football stadiums.