I was recently invited by the folks at The Georgia Golf Trail to take a little trip and experience a few of their golf courses. My first stop was at the 1,360 acre Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge about a half hour drive east of I-75 near McRae, Georgia. The park is part of the Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites division of the Department of Natural Resources with 41 parks for recreation, camping and other outdoor activities for residents and visitors of Georgia. Eight of the parks offer championship golf.
At Little ‘O’, as the locals call it, you will find the Wallace Adams Golf Club, probably as good a golf course as any in the state. I defy anyone to play this priceless gem and say it is not as good as any championship course. In fact, considering the large loblolly pines and magnolias, the pine needles in the rough and the rolling terrain with no homes, you might blink, and think you’re at Augusta National minus the crowds. In 2016, Golf Advisor picked Wallace Adams as #13 in the ‘best you can play’ in Georgia.
The golf course reaches out to 6625 yards from the back tees and plays to a par 72. There are four sets of tees for everyone to enjoy a day in the South Georgia woods. Accuracy is key, especially playing the longer front nine where the forest canopy can render a well struck drive goodbye. There were no out-of-bounds markers but plenty of woodland to exact a high number on many of the par 4’s and 5’s. If you play in the fairway for your second shot, you will find a lush carpet of Tif-Eagle bermuda to hit from and great manicured Tif-Dwarf greens to putt on. Before venturing out, practice some putts on the practice putting surface, and hit a few three woods and drivers at the range near the clubhouse to sharpen accuracy.
Right out of the box, players are tested with a dogleg right 360 yard, par 4 with a pond in front of the green on the first. A good drive favoring the left side of the fairway will allow for a clear short iron to the green that has a rustic walkover bridge. Birdie is possible. The same pond is next to the tee on the 405 yard second, a straight away par 4 that took me three shots to reach the green. Be happy with par here. Once again length and accuracy are needed to score well on the 520 yard, par 5, third which turns left at about 150 yards out. Good Luck! The first par 3 is all you can handle at 200 yards, but no trouble and straight is key. The fifth is another long par 4 with a dogleg left and a pond to avoid about 100 yards out from the green. The #1 handicap hole is the par 4, 460 yard doozy, sixth; straight but tight to a smallish green. You walk off six reeling and what next but a double dogleg par 5 to maneuver that plays up to the 60 room Lodge. Another straight away par 3 at 200 yards gives a chance for birdie, and then the hard dogleg right ninth completes the front. A little driver fluid is appropriate right about now, so find the way to the clubhouse and refuel. If you are staying in the lodge with your golfing buddies or couples group, they have a special 6 hole round offer to play out and back to the lodge which is a nice afternoon game among friends.
Luckily the back is shorter and a bit more open than the front, starting with two doglegs( you read correctly) left, par 4s, 360 yards for #10, and a short 305 yard eleventh. The shortest par 3, #12, makes up for its length with bunkers protecting the front of the elevated green. Thirteen is another tight par 4 where accuracy is needed to score well, while 14 is the shortest of the par 5s and the best chance for birdie. The 440 yard par 4 fifteenth is the toughest on the inward nine while the sixteenth is the easiest hole at 360 yards from the tips. The round concludes with a 170 yard par 3 straight away to a green surrounded front and back by bunkers and another double dogleg par 5. It is a very well kept and challenging track for any golfer.
Little Ocmulgee State Park features a variety of accommodations which capture the rustic nature of the Georgia countryside including 10 lakeside cabins, 54 campsites, a pioneer camp and the lodge. Recreational offerings include both lighted tennis and volleyball courts, miniature golf, bicycles, a swimming pool and a sandy beach on the 265 acre lake, canoe rental, fishing and hiking. For the younger park goers there is a playground and Splash Pad water play park. The 2.6 mile Oak Ridge Trail is a perfect one with nature walking or hiking trail that ends up on a boardwalk near the lake. Meeting space can accommodate up to 200 or smaller groups with no outside interference for great back to nature meetings and retreats.
When groups of golfers stay at the lodge, the staff can create the “Big Break challenges” of the chipping wall, target golf and break the glass challenge for a fun activity for them. What is really neat about visiting Little ‘O’ is you can come as a group of golfers, couples or family and there is something for everyone to enjoy in a safe and natural surrounding park.
Check it out at http://gastateparks.org/LittleOcmulgee.