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|The 11th hole at Reynolds Landing is a daunting par 3 by distance and elevation. (Lisa Allen/WorldGolf.com)|
GREENSBORO, Ga. - Reynolds Landing is a sleeper golf course.
At first, it doesn't seem all that difficult - a few bunkers, not a lot of water and wide fairways. But it creeps up on you, shot by added shot. Pretty soon you're talking some really bad golf scores, unless you realize what you're up against.
The golf course is long - 7,048 yards from the tips - but appears to be easy, given the straightforward design and openness. Underneath, hidden in subtlety, is Bob Cupp's alter ego, the designer who is capable of formidable golf. That's Reynolds Landing.
When it opened in 1986, it rated a second place ranking in the state of Georgia, behind Augusta National. It's still among the state's best.
The golf course dips and rises along the shores of Lake Oconee, with No. 5 teetering on the edge of the lake for its entirety. The rest of the round is spent up and down hills, battling sideway stances and calculating the effect of gravity on distance when getting ready to launch a shot to a green that is many yards above or below.
Instead of traditional hazards, to penalize errors Cupp uses on several occasions grass that hasn't been mowed in a month. You probably won't see your ball again.
The golf course was the first on the lake, says Scott Justman, head golf professional. It began as Port Armor, but Reynolds Plantation bought it in 2005 and renamed it. The housing around the development caters to a younger demographic, Justman said.
Membership at Landing does not include the courses at Reynolds Plantation, such as the Plantation Course. However, when compared to Reynolds Plantation courses, Justman said the Landing is the most challenging.
"It doesn't have that resort course forgiveness," he said. If your shot is wayward, it will remain so. There are no cupped fairways that nudge balls to roll back in.
"It's the most difficult course at Lake Oconee," said Brit Spann, a 23-handicap golfer. "It's long and there are a lot of areas you can't hit it out of."
His favorite hole is the short, par-3 No. 3 over water. His least is the daunting No. 15, where a pond lurks to the right, after a blind drive. From your tee shot, it's straight up to the green that is guarded by a garden of bunkers, also on the right. "You don't get a level lie anywhere on that hole," Spann said.
Al Hoyle, an 8-handicap, says the greens are the best around. "They are always fast and smooth," he said. "From the front tees, it's a fun course." From the back tees, not so much.
He enjoys the par-5 No. 2 because of the view. One can overlook three holes that descend to the lake, he said.
No. 2, a par 5, has a green with water across the front and the left side. Before you take that third shot, do the math. You might want to lay up as your drive and second shot travel down to the flag.
No. 5, a par 4 right along Lake Oconee, has a roll-off on the fairway if your shot is left of center fairway. Then you have to try to launch a shot to the green, also with water, i.e. the lake, front and left. It's a pretty hole.
The No. 11 par 3 is a study in elevation. The green sits atop a tower of bunkers. Luckily, the green is flat and large, so if you hit it, you're in like Flynn. From the back tees, the green sits off to the right, so calculating distance is a challenge.
No. 18 is a nice finishing hole that snakes down to a creek that spans the fairway about 50 yards short of the hole. The green is guarded by bunkers on nearly every side. This is another hole that requires some calculation.
A day on this golf course will work your gray matter and your ability to take a shot under a variety of lies.
The hazards are subtle, so you have to remain alert and a little suspicious. Caution, and some long shots, will serve you well.
This is a members course, not a resort course. Getting to know this course is worth the investment.
It's difficult to imagine it would ever be boring.
August 18, 2009
Lisa Allen is a golf, travel and business writer based in Beaufort, S.C. She has edited newspapers, magazines and books in Michigan, Indiana and South Carolina. Follow her on Twitter @LAllenSC.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
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