It’s that time again when snowbirds head south to their winter homes. Whether traveling down Interstates 75, 85 or 95 through the state of Georgia, home to the great Bobby Jones, the Masters, the FedEx Cup, and the Georgia Golf Trail, golfers can select from a collection of 25 resorts and premier golf courses certainly worth the time to stay awhile playing some of the best designs in the Southeast.
The Georgia Golf Trail has something no other state has to offer, outstanding golf with first-class accommodations and true southern hospitality. From the mountains to the plains to the beautiful Atlantic Coast, there are fantastic layouts within short side trips off the Interstates. Georgia’s temperate climate allows year-round playing throughout the state. Whether it’s golfing among the vibrant blooms of the azaleas and dogwoods in the spring, enjoying a round on the coastline cooled by the ocean breezes in the summer, playing mountain golf during the blast of autumn’s vibrant colors or sweater weather in the winter, the Georgia Golf Trail has the perfect getaways 365 days a year.
In the northern part of the Peach State, the Blue Ridge Mountains are the backdrop of the venues north of the state’s capital, Atlanta. Situated south of the North Carolina border, Sky Valley Country Club, the northernmost, coolest and highest elevation course in the state, takes players on an aesthetic and challenging journey through the valley, along babbling brooks, waterfalls, ponds and lakes and then climbs up the side of the mountain before returning to the finishing holes next to the beautiful clubhouse. SkyValleyCountryClub.com
Brasstown Valley, located in Young Harris, quietly redefines the typical mountain getaway and truly has one of the finest and best-maintained golf courses in Georgia. Designed by Georgia’s own master architect, Denis Griffiths, the award-winning layout winds through woodlands, wildlife preserves, around ponds and streams and framed by the mountains. Managed by Coral Hospitality, Brasstown Valley Resort has 102 well-appointed lodge rooms and 32 cottage guest rooms, Equani Spa, five miles of horseback riding trails, sport fishing, quail hunting and sporting clays. BrasstownValley.com.
In Alpine Helen, the tiny Bavarian Hamlet that is the third most visited area in Georgia, the 6,500 yard Innsbruck Golf Club is pure mountain golf at its best. The challenging and beautiful golf course is a great addition to a visit to Helen. There are special Kodak moments available including the chateau-like clubhouse that sits high above the two closing holes, and mountain views while playing on the bent-grass greens. The Valhalla Resort Hotel is the perfect stay and play option within walking distance from the clubhouse. InnsbruckGolfClub.com.
Chestatee Golf Club is located on Ga-400 highway in Dawsonville and set among hills and the shoreline of Lake Lanier, one of the most beautiful lakes in the Southeast. The pristine 18 hole, par 71 championship design by Denis Griffiths was rated 4.5 stars by Golf Digest and will challenge the best golfers from the tips while allowing lesser mortals an enjoyable round from appropriate shorter tees. Golfers can send the non-golfers in the family to the nearby North Georgia Premium Outlets while playing here. ChestateeGolfClub.com.
In Braselton, Chateau Elan Winery & Resort sits atop hills of vineyard north of Atlanta with 45 holes of challenging golf designed by Griffiths who lives on property and managed by Troon, a David Pelz Golf School and comfortable lodging. The facility has just completed a $25 million renovation. Check it out at ChateauElan.com.
Just east of Atlanta, visitors and golfers can enjoy the remarkable Stone Mountain Park, the #1 Georgia tourist attraction, with two outstanding Marriott managed golf courses: The Stonemont golf course, a 1969 Robert Trent Jones Sr. design, provides a classic challenge that places emphasis on accuracy and strategic course management. The Lakemont course designed by Georgia native John LaFoy incorporates incredible views of the Stone Mountain sculpture, winding around Stone Mountain Lake with ten water holes. Stay at the Atlanta Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort to fully experience the golf and the park. StoneMountainPark.com.
Going west out of Atlanta on Interstate 20, The Frog Golf Club in Villa Rica is recognized as one of the top courses in the state. The parkland-style 7,000 + yard layout is one of Tom Fazio’s best designs, an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary and is managed by Honours Golf. Check it out at GolftheFrog.com.
Georgia has 61 state parks, eight of which have golf courses with ‘no homes, no crowds and no noise.’ Nestled in the rolling hills of the state’s upper Piedmont is one of North Georgia’s best-kept secrets- the Highland Walk golf course at Victoria Bryant State Park near Royston. Believe me when I say this is no leisure walk. This challenging Griffiths design provides crowned fairways leading to generous sloping Bermuda greens. The 6,800-yard Arrowhead Pointe is one of the most scenic in all of the Peach State, located within Richard B. Russell State Park with 10 of the holes skirting the shoreline of beautiful Lake Russell. The Creek at Hard Labor is another Griffiths design measuring 6,444-yards with the infamous #10, ‘the hardest hole in all of Georgia.’ The narrow and challenging layout will test your shot-making. GaStateParks.org.
With 117 golf holes, Reynolds Lake Oconee is the ultimate golf destination. Golf Course Architects Bob Cupp, Jim Engh, Tom Fazio, Rees Jones, and Jack Nicklaus all had a hand in making it the outstanding mecca for golf. Lodging includes the Lake House, cottages and a Ritz Carlton Hotelfor your stay. Boating, archery, clays and water sports are available for your enjoyment. Stop by the Kingdom of Golf presented by TaylorMade for instruction and club fitting. Visit ReynoldsLakeOconee.com for more information.
Situated along the banks of the Savannah River and just a 90-second ferry ride to the historic downtown, The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa offers golfers an elevated experience in Georgia’s oldest city. Designed by Bob Cupp in conjunction with Hall of Famer Sam Snead, the challenging links-style 7,300-yard Club at Savannah Harbor is managed by Troon and is a sheer pleasure to play with beautiful skyline and low-country vistas. The totally remodeled in 2019 Westin is the perfect place to stay while enjoying historic Savannah. Go to WestinSavannah.com.
The ‘Grand-Daddy’ of all Georgia resorts is Callaway Resort and Gardens in Pine Mountain. Established in 1952 in the southernmost foothills of the Appalachians, Callaway Gardens is a 2,500-acre nature preserve with numerous natural and sporting activities to enjoy. Harkening back to the 1990’s when the PGA TOUR came to play the Buick Challenge, Callaway is still a favorite for golfers who enjoy the two aesthetically gorgeous championship courses, Lake View & Mountain View designed by Dick Wilson, and the variety of accommodations at the Resort. Learn more at CallawayGardens.com.
Getting back to the southern five State Park Golf Courses: Driving south on I-75, at just under 7,000 yards, the par 71 Brazell’s Creek course is another Griffiths design with two distinct nines connected by a 1,500-yard bridge located in Gordonia-Alatamaha State Park new Claxton, home of the famous fruit cake. The Lakes golf club at Laura S. Walker, the first state park named for a woman, is situated at the northern edge of the Okefenokee Swamp near Waycross and has three large lakes to maneuver around at this challenging Steve Burns design. The last three are managed by Coral Hospitality: Meadow Links Golf Club at George T. Bagby State Park on the banks of Lake George in Fort Gaines is a 7,000 yard William Byrd layout that is a scenic joy to play. Little Ocmulgee at Wallace Adams State Park is a little taste of Augusta National with its towering pines, hardwoods and magnolias bordering the free-flowing fairways doglegging around the pristine rolling hills. Georgia Veterans Memorial Golf Club is a fabulous Denis Griffiths design at the beautiful Lake Blackshear Resort & Golf Club.
Coming south from Savannah on I-95, Sapelo Hammock Golf Club is hidden away in the tiny hamlet of Shellman Bluff. This challenging course skirts the marshlands of southern Georgia and defines the routing of the layout in a unique links-style design and is a great stay and play opportunity. Go to SapeloHammockGolfClub.com for more information.
About a half-hour south of Sapelo near Brunswick, the Golden Isles, a group of barrier islands along the Atlantic Coast, are home to some great golf resorts. Sea Island is an exclusive destination with three championship golf courses and home to the PGA TOUR’s RSM Classic hosted by Davis Love III which will be played November 18-24, 2019. The King & Prince Beach & Golf Resort is a historic oceanfront hotel on St. Simons Island with a spectacular golf course on the north end of the island named #1 in Georgia by Golf Advisor. The Jekyll Island Golf Club boasts 63 holes of championship golf and is the state’s largest club and a great place to test your game while enjoying the Jekyll Island Club and Beach Resort or the Westin Jekyll Island. Go to JekyllIsland.com
Call 1-855-388-GOLF(4653) for golf package information. Y’all come on down and stay & play awhile on the Georgia Golf Trail!