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|The greens at the Creek course feature some wild undulations. (Tim McDonald/GolfPublisher.com)|
Engh kept watching Forrester, a good golfer, firing at pins time and again. Finally, Engh, who designed the new course, had had enough.
"He said, 'All right, stop that. You don't need to do that,'"Forrester recalls with a laugh. "'On this course, the best shot isn't necessarily at the pin.' And it's true. Once you learn the slopes, you can have a blast out here."
That's true, too. The Creek course can be played as a sort of three-dimensional pinball machine - you can play normal golf and still have a ball here, but why not be Phil Mickelson-imaginative and use all the contours, humps and bumps, swales, dips and slope - not to mention the golf course's wild undulation - to achieve the goal of getting the ball in the hole?
This is a strange golf course, in more ways than one. It can look very intimidating off the tee. The Creek course has a plethora of deep, nasty pot bunkers that can seem prohibitive with your driver in hand.
Creeks that splinter off Lake Oconee come into play on 14 holes with forced carries on eight of them, either off the tee or from the fairway.
It has some terrific elevation changes, with elevated tees and greens, and it winds through some of the best natural golf terrain in this part of the country. It plays through and around steep wooded hills with great views from the higher places of the surrounding countryside. With the hills, nearly every hole has an isolated feel, like you're the only one on the golf course.
"I got real lucky with the location at Reynolds," Engh said in an earlier interview. "There are not so many places left on earth that have a setting like this one - that's absolutely perfect."
It's hard to argue with the playability on a course that looks so dangerous. The fairways are mostly mounded, as are the bentgrass greens, and the landing areas are much more generous than they first appear.
With the friendly slopes, off-target drives can find their way back into the middle of the fairway. The same thing is true of approach shots. Most are mounded, too, on three sides - bowl-shaped - with backstops that can send your ball back to its goal.
You're still left with plenty of work to do. The greens are radically sloped and severely undulating, with multi-tiered surfaces. Some have 10 feet or more of difference in elevation.
Also, this is one course where you want to over-club, if anything. Most of the trouble is short; long won't hurt you. In fact, it might help you.
"What is incredible about the Creek Club is that the golf course is scary, but so much fun to play," said Golf Director Bob Mauragas.
It's too bad more golfers can't experience Creek; all the other courses on the plantation are available to the public at certain times of the year. Your only hope is to be a member or a guest of a member.
The club has a ritzy new clubhouse with views overlooking the three greens of No. 18.
The course has "Zorro" zoysia grass on its fairways, one of only a handful of courses to use it.
November 13, 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.
The Club at Chatham Hills is a private, Pete Dye design with a plum location just north of Indianapolis. Weaving over an idyllic landscape of beautiful topography, this new course is truly a bright spot in American golf.
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