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Scenic Bartram Trail Golf Club near Augusta, Georgia is a real find

Stan AwtreyBy Stan Awtrey,
Bartram Trail Golf Club - hole 1
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Bartram Trail Golf Club: "where golf is seriously fun." (Stan Awtrey/TravelGolf)

EVANS, Ga. -- The scenery around Bartram Trail Golf Club is fabulous. There are acres of hardwoods, pines, indigenous plants and plenty of wildlife that run through rolling hills and wetlands.

And the golf course isn't too bad, either.

Located about 10 miles east of Augusta, Georgia, Bartram Trail Golf Club is a place that deserves more attention than it gets. The course is snuggled within a development of Highway 232 that might be easy to miss, which would be a shame. The appropriate motto at Bartram Trail is "where golf is seriously fun."

The quality of scenery doesn't stop with the flora and fauna. The fairways and Miniverde bermuda greens are maintained with high standards -- one reason the golf course has developed such a legion of fans.

"The greens and conditions of the course are fantastic," Aubrey Wallace of Augusta said. "The maintenance crews that work here do an outstanding job."

Bartram Trail is a par-72 layout that plays 6,706 yards from the back tees, 6,226 yards from the middle tees and 5,545 yards from the white tees. The yardage, which doesn't seem daunting, plays longer than it seems it should. The course is unusual in the fact that it has five very testy par 5s and five par 3s, one more than the typical quota for most courses.

Rick Robbins of Cary, N.C., designed the course, one of two Robbins designs in Georgia, the other being Canyon Ridge in the far northwest corner of the state. Robbins worked with Robert Von Hagge and Jack Nicklaus and earned a reputation for building enjoyable courses that take advantage of the land's natural beauty. He certainly did that at Bartram Trail.

Bartram Trail Golf Club starts with a bang

Bartram Trail hits you hard right off the bat. The toughest hole is the first one, the result of flipping the nines a few years back. The drive from the clubhouse takes you over a couple of small bridges and through the trees. The 404-yard par 4 features a fairway that tilts from right to left, leading those who overcook their draw to take a walk in the woods. If you find the fairway, the approach shot must be delivered to an elevated green. Walking away with a par here is a nice way to start the day.

One of the most intriguing holes on the front side is No. 8, a par 4 that plays 337 yards from the back tees and is considered to be driveable for the big hitters.

The back nine features a couple of doglegs and takes you on a journey of isolation. The road back to the clubhouse concludes with three good closing holes. The 16th is a 380-yard par 4 that has water guarding the green on the right. The 17th is a 188-yard par 3 that requires a carry to the green that's protected by a trap and offers little room for comfort.

The 18th hole can be a terror from the back tees or benign from the middle. The back tee shot requires a drive to carry an area the locals call a "canyon." It's not quite that penal, but the drop is severe and finding a ball isn't easy. The hole plays 511 yards from the back and 419 yards from the whites, so higher handicappers don't have the same challenge off the tee.

Another decision at the 18th must be made on the second shot. A player may opt to layup on the top tier of the fairway or test another "canyon" en route to the green. A conservative approach to the hole should result in a par. An aggressive play that goes awry could produce a big number.

Bartram Trail's devotion to nature

Bartram Trail was named in honor of William Bartram, one of the nation's first naturalists. He spent much time cataloging the flora throughout the Southeast in the late 1700s. He and his botanist father spent much time in the Georgia and South Carolina areas and discovered hundreds of specimens, including the Venus flytrap.

Bartram Trail is a member of the Audubon International Wildlife Sanctuary program, a joint venture with the United States Golf Association that promotes ecologically sound land management practices.

Bartram Trail Golf Club: The verdict

General manager Robby Watson wants Bartram Trail to be a comfortable place to place. The pro shop and grill areas are small, but they have a homey feel. The staff is friendly and makes visitors feel welcome. The range is spacious, with plenty of grass tees for the usual crowd. The condition of the fairways and greens is very good.

Bartram Trail is an enjoyable course, especially if you are looking for a place that doesn't beat you repeatedly with a series of long par 4s. Middle handicappers will love this place and there's enough challenge to keep the low handicappers intrigued.

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Bartram Trail Golf Club - hole 17Bartram Trail Golf Club - hole 18 teeBartram Trail Golf Club - hole 18 green

Stan Awtrey spent 25 years as a sports writer with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He is editor of Golf Georgia, the official magazine of the Georgia State Golf Association, and writes a weekly column for PGATOUR.com. His work has appeared in dozens of newspapers, magazines and Web sites.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

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