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|The back nine at Great Waters has some of the best views of Lake Oconee around. (Tim McDonald/GolfPublisher.com)|
"It's by far the prettiest course here," said Pat Ayers, playing it one Fall day.
That's saying quite a bit since all of Reynolds Plantation's five courses are located on rolling earth, forested hills and great stands of trees that, in the fall, shed their leaves like they were being paid to put on a grand lollapalooza of blazing colors.
Add to that your classic Georgia pines and hardwoods, along with azaleas and pink dogwood, and you have a golf course so darn pretty it will make your head swim. Which brings us to its best physical attribute.
All of the Plantation's courses run into big Lake Oconee and its many fingers at some point, but Great Waters treats the lake like a symphony.
The back nine is really something to behold; all nine holes have expansive lake views, and if you're lucky you'll play it when the sun is shimmering off the water. The only other course that utilizes a lake to such great extent may be the Georgia state park course at Lake Russell.
"There are so many holes on the back nine that are just gorgeous, one after another," said Head Pro Nate Middleton. "They're not only good golf holes, but the vistas are as good as anything you'll ever see aside from courses on the ocean."
Enjoying a golf course isn't all about the aesthetics, but you can't help but notice. One magazine named the back nine the best nine holes in the Southeast.
"Great Waters is the course that helped put Reynolds Plantation on the map," said Vice President of Golf Bob Mauragas.
It's an Audubon-certified course, and you'll see all sorts of graceful lake birds, along with land-based animals like deer, herons, red-tailed hawks and foxes. Have I mentioned the landscaping yet?
In any case, the course holds its own when it comes to actually striking the golf ball around its layout. All the water comes into play eventually, of course, though there are really only three forced water carries, on Nos. 11, 12 and 14.
Still, the greens on the back nine jut out into the lake, requiring accuracy on your approach shots; when the flag is placed on the left-hand side of the green on No. 11, it looks like it's floating.
The green at the par-3 14th sits directly on the banks of the lake, the state's second-largest.
Like all the other plantation courses, the conditioning is superb.
Great Waters opened in 1992, and in '98, Golf magazine ranked it 28th in its 1998 list of "top 100 courses you can play" in the U.S.
The course hosted the tournament now known as the WGC Accenture World Match Play from '95-'97.
Great Waters is open to anyone staying on the plantation or the Ritz-Carlton hotel, on the property.
November 15, 2007
Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
There are many stay-and-play options in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C region, but none can match the combination of upscale amenities at a reasonable price, the private-course conditions, the diversity of courses and the Interstate convenience of Turf Valley in Ellicott City, Md.
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