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|The 13th tee on the Plantation course at Reynolds Plantation provides a panorama of the par 4 with a bit of a carry up front. (Lisa Allen/WorldGolf.com)|
GREENSBORO, Ga. - There are only 20 bunkers on the Plantation golf course at Reynolds Plantation, but that doesn't mean you're off the hook. The course uses valleys, dales, mounds, swales and a lake to keep you on your toes, or on your heels.
With a few exceptions, holes go in only two directions - up or down. And it's a given, for the most part, that your stance will be uneven. The ball, it can be assumed, will be either above or below your feet.
And you'll love every minute, because the golf course also has its soft side.
If your drive drifts off line, a gentle slope at the fairway's edge will nudge it back onto the short grass. Hit the top of a mound, and your ball will gain some yardage toward the hole. The greens are large, smooth and sloped, not undulating.
Richard Sparkmon chooses to play the Plantation course three or four times a month. "It's a playable course; it's not overly long," said the 7-handicap Sparkmon. "There's a lot of variety."
He enjoys the 426-yard 10th hole (and can quote the yardage), because he has to hit a seven wood into the green.
"Reynolds Plantation is the greatest golf value in the United States," Sparkmon added, citing the variety of membership levels and ease of getting on the courses. As a member, he can make tee times 30 days in advance.
A 19-handicap player, Bobbie McDonald is comfortable at the Plantation course. "It just feels like a friendly golf course," she said. "It's one of the older courses here. Maybe that's it."
McDonald also appreciates that the fairways slope in, funneling shots back onto the short grass. "It offers a big enough challenge that you have to place the ball to get it to the green in regulation," she explained.
Aside from the golf, the views from the tee boxes are spectacular, and the landscaping is creative.
Designed by Bob Cupp, the 6,698-yard course takes full advantage of the topography and the proximity to Lake Oconee. Many holes drop dramatically from the tee, giving you a panorama of what lies ahead. There are no surprises, but pay careful attention because some of the hazards are subtle, like pine straw left of the green on the par-3 11th that will send your wayward ball bounding into the pond. Also beware the the thin but long green atop the fourth hole.
The golf course clings to the hills around the lake, but descends right down to water level on the par-5 fifth hole, using it as a water hazard behind the green. To make sure you stay on your game for the length (464 to 562 yards) despite the view, three bunkers march-step up the right side to the green, and another bunker awaits on the left side. It's worth mentioning that the breeze off the lake probably will require an extra club on your approach - but you don't want to be too long, given what's behind the hole. There aren't too many water hazards in golf on which you can go boating.
The Plantation course's configuration is a little quirky: par 37 on the front with an extra par 5 and par 35 on the back with an extra par 3.
The greens are Crenshaw bentgrass, giving true rolls at a moderate tempo. The fairways are Bermuda. From tee to green, the turf is kept in perfect condition, and the Bermuda rough is nice and thick, which can make a trip through it punishing.
The golf course's signature 12th hole is a doozy - a par 4 with swales, rocks and a tiny little throat through which to thread your approach shot. The green has a nasty bunker left with a high bank green side. Past that, water. If you do land in the drink, take the time to admire the small waterfall - some good should come out of losing a ball.
Each par 3 is memorable in its own way. The third hole has tiered tees dropping down to a well guarded green. Several of only 20 bunkers on the course are used up on this single hole. You won't forget the eighth either, which puts rocks, a stream, bunkers and a lake in your view.
The ninth is another great hole. Yes, the fairway is vast, but it bumps and careens over swales, slopes and mounds. It's a dogleg right with a rippled right side. If you land in there, you'll have to scramble for par.
The golf is great on the Plantation course at Reynolds Plantation, and it serves a dual purpose as the social hub for the community. The clubhouse is the first inside the main security gate, and it's here that you'll find the Plantation Grille, a restaurant and shuttles. Nearby is a children's play area and a large swimming pool complex. Guests can enjoy a buffet breakfast here daily.
Reynolds Plantation is truly a Bob Cupp design, with the gentleness you'd expect from a resort course. It doesn't rely on a lot of sand, but demands accurate golf to navigate the variable terrain. In short, it's a relaxing, straight-forward course.
October 12, 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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