Home » Feature Story

Looking for pretty? Try these picturesque Georgia golf courses

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

From Georgia's coast to the mountains, you have a variety of scenic golf courses to choose from, including Sea Island and the Hampton Club on St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island Golf Club, Arrowhead Pointe in Elberton, Reynolds Plantation, TPC at Sugarloaf, Callaway Gardens and Brasstown Valley.

Seaside Golf Course
The Seaside course at Sea Island is not only scenic; it's consistently rated one of the best golf courses in Georgia.
«
Seaside Golf CourseArrowhead Pointe
»

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - The great state of Georgia has as many different kinds of golf courses as it does topography. From the mountains to the north to the coastal plains of the southeast, the state has some of the most scenic courses in the country.

TravelGolf.com has toured the state for years, and here are some of our favorite scenic golf courses in Georgia.

Coastal golf courses

Sea Island Golf Club on St. Simons Island is located on the site of the old Retreat Plantation, with tabby ruins and an old slave cemetery clearly visible. The tees are slightly elevated and give excellent views of the Intracoastal Waterway and St. Simons Sound.

The Seaside course is advertised as an ocean-side links course, and certain sections of the course do indeed have a wild, windswept feel to them, as the routing climbs naturally over grassy dunes with their backsides up to the ocean breezes.

The Hampton Club on St. Simons Island is among the best marsh golf courses I've played, from Florida north through Myrtle Beach, in terms of the views.

That's because at the Hampton Club, the views are not of the marsh, they are from the marsh. You are literally in the marsh, out there with the ospreys, bald eagles, woodpeckers and other marsh critters. The builders carved four holes on the islands off the mainland. You get to them via a series of bridges. You are the marsh and the marsh is you.

In the Oleander Course at Jekyll Island Golf Club, the state hasn't exactly gone out of its way to spend money on conditioning. But the Oleander has views unmarred by development, though as of this writing, the politicians and the Jekyll Island State Park Authority were squabbling about funds for developing and refurbishing the barrier island.

It's a well laid-out Donald Ross design, and has a nice mix of pines, white and live oaks and oleander. You can hear the roar of the ocean from almost anywhere on the course.

Georgia's inland golf courses

Arrowhead Pointe Golf Course in Elberton is the most scenic track in the state's park system, in my view. The park and the golf course are situated on a peninsula that juts out into the 26,500-acre Lake Russell, and architect Bob Walker made full use of the water: 10 of the 18 holes have lake views, and the back nine in particular is about as close as you can come to a naturally pristine experience and still be on a golf course.

"We started with probably one of the best pieces of ground that I have ever worked on, in 32 years of work," Walker said. "I just couldn't have found a better site, honestly. (The state) pretty much gave me free reign. They said, 'here's 400 acres, put the golf course wherever you need to.'"

There are no structures of any kind on the lake. Nor are there any roads of consequence nearby. The scenery is so peaceful and quiet you may be tempted to stop playing and just drink in the surroundings.

The Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro has 99 holes of golf designed by the likes of Rees Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio and Robert Cupp. Nicklaus' Great Waters course is the most scenic; it's like the knock-out blonde who's so good-looking you can't see past her appearance to her other talents.

All the holes on the back nine have expansive views of Lake Oconee, and if you're lucky you'll play it with the sun shimmering off the water. It's an Audubon-certified course, and you'll see all sorts of graceful lake birds, along with other animals like deer, red-tailed hawks and foxes, wandering and hovering above classic Georgia pines, hardwoods, azaleas and pink dogwood.

TPC at Sugarloaf was Greg Norman's first design in the U.S. The course plays through more than 1,000 acres of rolling terrain decorated with oaks, pines and maples. It's a parkland course built on a site that used to breed Tennessee walking horses, with streams, lakes and hills.

You would expect a golf course at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain to be beautiful, and you'd be right. The long-time Georgia attraction has two courses, the Lake View and Mountain View. They have a great deal in common in terms of scenery, but could not be more different in terms of strategy.

There is enough elevation change on both to give good views. Lake View in particular is a very scenic course, winding through the azaleas that the gardens were originally formed to protect.

The Golf Course at Cuscowilla on Lake Oconee has been ranked the No. 1 residential layout in the country. It was designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, well known for their penchant for aesthetics, and it meanders through rolling meadows and pine forests, with views of waterfalls. Many of the holes play along the shores of lakes and ponds.

Georgia's mountain golf courses

Brasstown Valley Golf Club in Young Harris is located in the southern peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains, two hours north of Atlanta. The fairways are lined with towering hardwoods and play through wildlife preserves, ponds and streams framed by the mountains.

Cateechee Golf Club in Hartwell is located in the scenic foothills of northeast Georgia. It's been called "pure golf in a nature park," 380 acres of golf with no houses or street crossings. The course is known for its superb bentgrass greens.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.


 
Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
Dates: February 15, 2017 - December 31, 2017
A deluxe overnight room in the Inn at Château Élan, one round of golf per person and cart and range balls on the Château course or Woodlands course. Tee times are recommended at the time of booking.
Price range: $319 - $619