Information about Lake Oconee Golf Courses can be found on various websites – scorecards, yardage, layouts, and statistics. But many people exploring the area wonder which golf course is really suited to his or her individual game. For a personal, mid-handicapper view of each Oconee course, Jim will take over and present a series of impressions about each of the courses in the Lake Oconee communities. The first golf course that he will feature is The Landing at Reynolds Plantation.
The Lake Oconee golf courses have created one of the nation’s finest golf destinations well-known worldwide. Shortly after the completion of Wallace Dam creating Lake Oconee in 1980, the first of the current eight golf courses around Lake Oconee was completed – originally Port Armor, now The Landing at Reynolds Plantation. Designed by golf course architect Bob Cupp, The Landing golf course opened to rave reviews, some rating only Augusta National Golf Club as better. In 1980 as a relative newcomer to golf, but badly bitten by the golf bug, I couldn’t believe a championship golf course was being constructed in this rural county so close to where I grew up in Eatonton, Georgia. When I finished high school in Eatonton, there was not even a public course in the area, and I had never played the game. When I first heard about The Landing being built, I couldn’t resist driving into this new development to see what was happening. On one of my trips to visit my home in Eatonton, I drove through what was then only a construction area. In addition to the two or three homes already built, all one could see was the clearing of the fairways and the beginning of where the greens would ultimately be. But even then, through the eyes of the golf novice that I was, you could see that the combination of Lake Oconee and golf would be spectacular. Now thirty plus years later, we have eight (soon to be nine) Lake Oconee golf courses in three master planned communities – Reynolds Plantation Communities (which includes the Plantation, Great Waters, and The Landing ), Harbor Club, and Cuscowilla. In addition to these community courses, there are several semi-private courses nearby attracting golfers to the area.
As said before, the website for each community provides all the stats on the courses – scorecard, yardage, course rating, etc. – and the many accolades that all of the courses have accumulated in various categories. Being a REALTOR® and now a 10 handicap senior golfer, I thought I would provide in this blog my take on what all newcomers to our area always ask me when I’m showing Lake Oconee property, “What’s the best golf course on Lake Oconee?”. My immediate response to that question is that all of the courses are among the finest in the country and can’t arbitrarily be rated one above the other – it simply depends on one’s individual preference – level of play, and the challenge you desire. There is a personality and level of difficulty associated with each course, however on each course you can create your own level of difficulty by the tees that you select. Many golfers simply seek the pleasure of a fun day of golf. Toward the goal of helping the average golfer as they consider the various courses, I will simply share my observations as seen through the eyes of this senior 10 handicapper (playing now like a 15) as I’ve played the various courses. At least you may get some hints of what to look for on the golf courses as you make your choice of the course for a round of play, or a community in which to live.
Let’s look first at the first golf course built on Lake Oconee– The Landing at Reynolds Plantation (formerly Port Armor). Before being purchased by Reynolds, Port Armor was almost unfair – if you got out of the fairway you were in jail – knee-high grass, horrendous rough. Under Reynolds ownership, the challenging layout was unchanged and even enhanced, but the course in general became much more member and guest “friendly”. The change to Tift Eagle Bermuda greens from Bent grass added even more to the quality of the course. As you play the course, every hole provides a challenge and pleasurable view from tee to green, but I think I agree with most who have played The Landing that the par 4 Number 5 playing along the shores of Lake Oconee is probably the best. It’s not real long but puts a premium on the placement of your drive to set up a short iron second shot to a green protected on the right by a large bunker, and sloping left toward Lake Oconee. I’ve seen some birdies here, but I’ve also seen some big numbers – be careful!
The Landing has a long history of tournament play throughout the years. This was the perennial spot for local high school region championships; many college tournaments; and many professional events. That tradition continues today with many of the same tournaments. Play The Landing at Reynolds Plantation – you’ll love it regardless of your level of play – just play the right tees matching your handicap, or you’ll regret it.
Next in this series about Lake Oconee Golf Courses we’ll look at the Plantation Course of Reynolds Plantation, the second course opened on Lake Oconee.