In the days leading up to the Masters, many golf enthusiasts spend their time re-reading stories about Gene Sarazen’s double-eagle — aka, the Shot Heard Round the World — to win the 1935 Masters, the significance of Amen Corner, and Jack Nicklaus’ historic comeback to win the 1986 Masters. In addition to spending time getting immersed in the history of the Masters, think about traveling to Georgia and actually playing golf in the days leading up the Masters (or immediately after the Masters). Instead of watching the blossoming dogwoods and azaleas on television, go see and smell them.
Since Masters Week is a special experience, your build-up to the Masters should be special, as well. And, it should be spent making pit stops along the Georgia Golf Trail, a series of 20+ golf courses from Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa in North Georgia to Jekyll Island in southeastern Georgia.
A great place to begin your countdown to The Masters is at Jekyll Island — jekyllisland.com. If you are traveling by air, fly to Jacksonville and drive north. It’s an hour’s drive from the Jacksonville Airport to Jekyll Island.
“Jekyll Island may well be the best place in Georgia to unwind and relax while enjoying golf, fresh seafood, long walks along the beach, poolside siestas, and time off the grid,” said Georgia Golf TrailFounder Doug Hollandsworth.
When on Jekyll Island, you can spend the night at either the historic Jekyll Island Club Hotel or along the beach at the Westin Jekyll Island, Hampton Inn & Suites Jekyll Island, or the Marriott Jekyll Island (part Courtyard Jekyll Island and part Residence Inn). Each property is a first-class destination.
As for golf, the Jekyll Island Golf Club is blessed with four golf courses – a nine-hole layout and three 18-hole courses. The Great Dunes Course is a nine-hole layout. The three 18-hole courses are the Indian Mound Course, Oleander Course, and the Pine Lakes Course.
The Great Dunes Course was Jekyll Island’s first golf course. The great Walter “Old Man” Travis was the architect of this coastal jewel.
The Indian Mound course was constructed in 1975 by veteran course designer Joe Lee. It’s the shortest of the three 18-hole courses, but it’s no pitch-and-putt track.
The Oleander Course is considered to be the most difficult golf course on Jekyll Island. Not surprisingly, it has been the host course for the Georgia Open on four occasions.
Pine Lakes was opened in 1968 and is the longest golf course on Jekyll Island. The golf course meanders through ocean forests and natural marsh hammocks. Pine Lakes is peaceful, quiet, and tranquil.
For lunch or dinner, make time for a few meals at The Wharf, which is located on the premises of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. The quality of the food is only superseded by the brilliance of the nightly sunset, which you can see from the deck.
Sapelo Hammock Golf Club
After four rounds of golf in four days on Jekyll Island, head north toward the Sapelo Hammock Golf Club — sapelohammockgolfclub.com — in Shellman Bluff, Georgia. Surrounded by tidal marshes, saw palmettos, and live oak trees, dripping with Spanish moss, this golf course is in terrific shape, and its greens are a reflection of this club’s commitment to excellence. The desserts which are served in the clubhouse are world-class.
Wallace Adams Golf Course
Your next round of golf should be played at the Wallace Adams Golf Course, located in the Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge in McRae, Georgia — littleocmulgeelodge.com. It’s a two-hour drive west to McRae from Savannah. This golf course will remind you of the Augusta National Golf Club. This golf course, nicknamed Little Augusta, is dominated by loblolly pines which divide many of the fairways from one another. And the pine straw beneath the trees looks the same as it is at Augusta National.
After golf, spend the night at the lodge and eat at the Fairway Grill restaurant. Make sure that you order the sweet iced tea. After all, you are in south Georgia.
From McRae to Augusta, it’s less than a three-hour drive.
You now have many great reasons to visit Georgia to play the Georgia Golf Trail – either before or after the Masters. If it’s your first visit, I know it won’t be your last. The Georgia Golf Trail awaits your arrival. Check out GeorgiaGolfandTravel.com for more details.