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|You'll have to watch out for the bunkers at the National golf course at Reynolds Plantation, a Tom Fazio design. (Courtesy Reynolds Plantation)|
GREENSBORO, Ga. - Those who play the five golf courses at the Reynolds Plantation resort usually remember, first, Great Waters for its beauty and, second, the Creek course for its interesting combination of foreboding looks and playability.
But, ask those who play the golf courses regularly, and you might find a majority of them will say the National is their favorite.
"The National happens to be one of my personal favorite golf courses," said Bob Mauragas, director of golf at Reynolds Plantation. "I think Tom Fazio did Reynolds Plantation great justice. He used the lay of the land to create one of the more artistic golf courses I've ever seen."
The National's charms are more subtle and graceful, though there are more bunkers here - 115 - than on any of the plantation's other courses, this being a Fazio design.
The National is the plantation's only 27-hole facility; the Ridge and Bluffs nines opened in 1997, and the Cove nine was added in 2000.
The course is physically similar to the others, winding up, down and around hilly, rolling terrain. It's surrounded by hardwood forests and views of the Oconee River Valley, and has up to 60 feet of elevation change.
It also has a lot of water; streams, ponds and the lake are all in play at various times. For example, Lake Oconee flows along the right side of the par-3 fourth hole at the Bluffs, and wraps around behind the green. On No. 8, a creek crosses the fairway three-quarters of the way down the hole, only to run to the right and front of the green.
The downhill, par-3 third hole at the Cove nine is framed beautifully by the lake in back.
The National's fairways are lined with Georgia pines and thousands of local azaleas, and the large, undulating greens are bentgrass, probably the best putting surface known to man and golfer.
The greens aren't as wild as the Creek course, but there are more subtle breaks here; the greens at the Creek course may be radically undulating, but at least you know where they're going to break for the most part.
The National has many trees, softly undulating fairways and greens, and the pine straw rough never becomes overly penal. Many of the fairways, though, drop off to woods.
Golfweek magazine ranked the National one of America's top real estate courses, and the houses that appear sporadically are well-hidden by the hills and trees.
"Even the mansions are tucked in and low-key," said low-handicapper Pat Ayers.
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.
Referred to by its hosts as a "hidden gem," the greens alone at Sterling Hills Golf Club in Camarillo, Calif. make this a stone worth turning over. Located an hour northwest of L.A., it's a pleasing, quiet and generally engaging round that will appease players of all levels.
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