All eyes will be on Georgia, from 8 April when the world’s golfing legends and thousands of spectators descend on Augusta National for the annual Masters Tournament. The famous club with its rolling pine-fringed fairways may be membership only, but amateurs can play numerous championship courses in the Peach State. Georgia is home to some of the USA’s best public courses all situated in stunning surroundings and developed by some of the sport’s foremost course designers.
When it comes to golf in Georgia, visitors will find something to cater for all abilities and ages – from tough courses requiring skill and precision, to half-rounds designed for novices. Many courses are also resorts that offer holiday makers amenities including luxury accommodation, spas and kids’ clubs – making a golfing holiday an ideal getaway for all the family.
Georgia Tourism has selected its top five for 2013:
Stone Mountain Golf Club
Stone Mountain Golf Club is located in one of the most popular attractions in the southeast USA, Stone Mountain Park which sits just 15 miles from downtown Atlanta. The club offers 36 holes of championship golf over two courses (Stonemont and Lakemont) that have challenged golfers for over 30 years. Indeed, Stonemont is the only Robert Trent Jones Jr. Course in Georgia open to the public. There are two lodging options within Stone Mountain Park – The Stone Mountain Inn and the AAA 4-Diamond, Evergreen Conference Resort.
The Club at Savannah Harbour
Along Georgia’s Atlantic coast, the Club at Savannah Harbour, a Westin Resort, offers an exciting 18-hole round for experts as well as a nine-hole course for beginners and children play free of charge. This award-winning facility is home to the PGA TOURs Champions Tour Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf and has been named one of the “Top 60 Golf Resorts in the United States” by Condé Nast Traveller Magazine. The course, designed by Robert Cupp and Sam Snead, meanders through tidal wetlands and offers panoramic views of Savannah’s historic downtown from its Troon-maintained fairways.
Sea Island, Golden Isles
Located on one of the scenic islands that dot the Georgia coastline, Sea Island Golf Club offers three 18-hole championship courses and is ranked in the top five of the 75 best golf resorts in the U.S. The Seaside Course, a links course, offers some of the island’s most spectacular ocean views. Opened in 1929 and updated by Tom Fazio in 1999, it is reminiscent of some of Scotland’s finest and home to the PGA TOUR’s McGladrey Classic. Nature lovers can enjoy the tranquility of the Plantation Course, which is set through marshlands and forest. Meanwhile the Retreat Course, redesigned by Davis Love III and Mark Love, offers a more challenging par 72 round that demands a variety of different shots.
Just 70 miles east of Atlanta on the shores of the beautiful Lake Oconee, Cuscowilla was named “Best course you can play in Georgia” by Golfweek in 2011. The par-70 course was designed by renowned golf course architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and offers 18 holes of golf within 700 acres of beautiful Georgia meadow and woodland. Cuscowilla’s rustic log cabins offer high-end amenities and visitors to the resort can enjoy other activities including biking, water sports, boating and tennis.
Reynold’s Plantation, Greensboro
Set within a gated community along 80-miles of Lake Oconees’s shoreline, Reynold’s Plantation boasts 117 holes and six courses of world-class golf – five of which are open to non-members. These include: the Bob Cupp-designed Plantation Course and The Landing, which was the first golf course to open on Lake Oconee; the highly-ranked, Jack Nicklaus-designed Great Waters; Tom Fazio’s 27-hole The National, which offers players a choice of three course options; and The Oconee, designed by Rees Jones and opened in 2002, which is located adjacent to the resort’s luxurious lakefront Ritz-Carlton lodge. The resort has won a number of golfing accolades and has been ranked #5 of Condé Nast Traveller Magazine’s “Top 100 Golfing Resorts Worldwide”.
Getting there and around
Visitors to Georgia can fly direct to Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, which is served by Delta Air Lines and British Airways. From 31 March 2013, Delta will be offering three daily nonstop services from London’s Heathrow Airport to Atlanta, as well as a daily nonstop from Manchester Airport. British Airways flies daily nonstop from London Heathrow to Atlanta. Georgia Tourism’s Top 5 Golf Courses for 2013 are also an easy drive from Orlando, offering visitors the opportunity to combine the excitement of the city’s themed attractions with some of the U.S.A’s most exciting golf in the Peach State. Orlando is served direct from the UK by airlines including: Virgin Atlantic, British Airways. For more information about Golf and other activities in Georgia, visit http://www.exploregeorgia.org