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Reynolds' first golf course, the 'Plantation', still holds its own

Tim McDonaldBy Tim McDonald,
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Reynolds Plantation Course - Lake Oconee
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The Plantation course has some dazzling views of Lake Oconee. (Tim McDonald/GolfPublisher.com)

Robert Cupp designed the Plantation course at Reynolds Plantation in Georgia and, with its flatter and more accessible greens, not to mention its few fairways bunkers, made the golf course more playable for women.

GREENSBORO, Ga. - The Plantation golf course was the first built at Reynolds Plantation, in 1988, and set the standard for the excellent golf courses to come. It's similar to the other four layouts here, though with subtle differences that can loom large.

The Plantation is similar in that it's laid out over the same fine golf terrain as the others - the rolling, treed hills and valleys of northern Georgia, between Atlanta and Augusta. All the courses have elevation changes to some degree, with the elevated tees at some of the higher holes giving good views of the relatively rural countryside.

It also has the banked fairways that give golfers the feeling they're the only ones on the course. It has the same excellent conditioning the others have; the grass on the top of the few bunkers looks like $200 haircuts.

Like the others, it's a very picturesque course, with Lake Oconee as a frequently occurring backdrop; in this case, little inlets from the big lake prance into view frequently, with pontoons boats tied to docks.

But, there are differences, especially after a $1 million renovation in 2004-05. For one thing, the course has far fewer bunkers than the other tracks, only about 20.

During the renovation, some of those bunkers were installed where once there were difficult slopes. Mid- and high-handicappers will most likely enjoy this notable absence of sand.

"You can look around the golf course and see the bunkers that aren't there," architect Bob Cupp said in an earlier interview. "There are little swales and depressions that could be bunkers, but are not. The tendency has always been that it has a certain charm by itself without all that sand. I like that."

They also added thousands of ornamentals - azalea, crepe myrtle, willows and St. John's Wort - and improved the drainage.

The result, aside from the aesthetics, is a course that is more playable.

"(Cupp) made the course a little kinder, especially for women golfers," Head Pro Kevin Childers said. "The greens are more acceptable to approach shots, a little more undulating, but easier to hit into. But, you still have to hit it well to score well and placement off the tee is very important."

The greens are also smaller than the other Reynolds tracks, but flatter and a little slower. The challenge comes in their relative smallness and the fact they have quite a few drop-offs and false fronts that can fool you, especially the first few times you play on the course.

Water comes into play on more than half the holes.

The Plantation course at Reynolds Plantation: The Verdict

The Plantation is an excellent, parkland golf course, with moving fairways lined with Georgia pines and dogwood.

It has some interesting holes, especially Nos. 8, 9 and 10.

"Those holes, I think, make up the best stretch of golf on the lake," Childers said.

No. 8 is a lovely par-3 flanked by Lake Oconee, No. 9 is a par-5 with one of the trickier greens, and No. 10 is a long, rolling par-4 with an uphill tee shot.

The Plantation is 6,698 yards from the back tees, a nice length for a resort course.

Fuzzy Zoeller and Hubert Green served as consultants, and Golf Digest named it one of the best new resort courses soon after its opening.

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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.

 
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