How many of us who travel through Georgia on I-75 ever stop and “smell the roses,” or said another way, enjoy the many offerings of southern hospitality in Georgia. One hundred miles north of the Georgia/Florida line and about 2 hours south of Atlanta is the small town of Cordele, the typical stop off with gas stations, motels and fast food restaurants to accommodate the travelers on the Interstate. About 15 miles west of the exit on Highway 280 is the lovely and tranquil Lake Blackshear Resort & Golf Club.
The Lake Blackshear Resort sets inside the 1,300 acre Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park, which was established in 1931 as a memorial to U.S. Veterans from the Revolutionary War through the Gulf War. It has a museum with medals, uniforms, weapons and other artifacts plus a whole brigade of tanks, armored vehicles and a B-29 from WWII in an outdoor ordinance exhibit for everyone to remember the many conflicts our Veterans fought and served in. For any history buff or military collector this should be enough to get you there.
But there is so much more to this hidden gem. The park sits on the eastern shore of beautiful Lake Blackshear, a 20 mile long lake than encompasses over 8700 acres, and is a great place for boating, fishing, water skiing, swimming and picnicing on the shoreline. There are many different boat rentals available at the Marina, which also has a large boat ramp and free parking for vehicles and boat trailers. I had the opportunity to take a boat ride with Brian Boeling, Regional Director for Golf Operations for Coral Hospitality, and what a clear fresh water feature for Georgia residents and visitors to enjoy year round. The Cypress Grill located at the Marina is open seasonally and has light fare and beverages. Other activities at the park include hiking, geocaching, model airplane flying, disk golf, bicycling, and three camping areas plus a pioneer camp.
Georgia has eight state parks with golf courses. The “Vets,” as the golfers who frequent Georgia Veterans Memorial Golf Club call it, is an ASGCA member Denis Griffiths design that opened in 1990 and is rated four stars by Golf Digest. Denis also designed Brasstown Valley Golf Club in Young Harris, Ga. and The Creek at Hard Labor for the Georgia State Parks, near Rutledge. The 6869 yard 18 hole, par 72 layout meanders through tall pines, up and down rolling hills with plenty of mounding and sand bunkers to make the fun course more challenging. Griffiths took full advantage of the Park’s natural terrain and blended the routing with great character and challenging golf holes for everyone to enjoy with four sets of tees. The “Vets” is recognized as one of southern and middle Georgia’s finest golf courses and the best value to play. Offering picturesque lake views along with the region’s mild climate, Georgia Veterans Memorial Golf Club is the perfect place to play year round. The Dwarf Bermuda greens are large and sloping, while the Tif 419 fairways vary from wide to narrow.
The park has a full-service clubhouse complete with a well stocked pro shop, food and beverage service and private meeting space. Perfect for corporate tournaments, fundraising events or individual play, golfers of all skill levels will definitely enjoy it. Director Brian Boeling and his friendly staff do all they can to make your Vets experience the best. Call 229-276-2377 for tee times or more information.
The Lake Blackshear Resort is the centerpiece of the park. When the Resort first comes into view, it reminds me of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture. The Lodge has 14 beautifully appointed rooms with 64 spacious lakeside villa guestrooms that have just recently undergone a refurbishment. My corner room on the third floor of the Lodge was perfect with a view of the lake, marina and massive lawn. The room was furnished with style and comfort in mind. There are also 10- 2 bedroom lakeside cabins available. There is a pool and jacuzzi at the back of the Lodge overlooking the marina. You can walk under a breezeway to reach Cordelia’s, the main restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and 88s Lakeside Bar. If you’re wondering what the 88s stand for, the state of Georgia was established in 1788 and Cordele was founded in 1888. I enjoyed some delightful delicacies during my visit.
The Conference Center at Lake Blackshear has over 10,000 square feet of meeting space and can accommodate groups up to 450. It is the perfect wedding, after golf award dinner, corporate outing and meeting facility with all the needed A/V and banquet dining capabilities. Groups can enjoy a sunset cruise on the Lady Liberty at the marina or a train ride on the Historic SAM Shortline Excursion Railroad which has a depot in the park.
Coral Hospitality manages the park and facilities and their expertise insures great southern hospitality and wonderful times while visiting Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park. So, if your driving on I-75 north or south and looking for a perfect stopover with all the recreational opportunities you can think of, give Lake Blackshear Resort & Golf Club a visit. For more information go to www.LakeBlackshearResort.com