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The cream of Atlanta public golf: Top courses you can play in the ATL

Stan AwtreyBy Stan Awtrey,
Stone Mountain Golf Club - Stonemont Course - 6th
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Stone Mountain Golf Club has two distinctly different courses, including a Robert Trent Jones design. (Courtesy of Stone Mountain G.C.)

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta area is known internationally for its positive business climate and personal charm. It's also a great place to play golf, with dozens of public golf courses available. And Atlanta's weather makes it possible to play nearly year round, give or take a few days when the area has a random snowstorm.

The recession allowed many of the area's top public courses to be gobbled up and turned into private facilities. Even with those being subtracted from the mix, golfers still have many, many choices available when they visit the capitol of the New South.

Here are a half-dozen Atlanta golf courses that you don't want to miss:

Cobblestone Golf Course in Acworth

Located in the northwest Atlanta suburbs, Cobblestone Golf Course is the best thing going for the daily-fee golfer. The Jim Fazio course opened in 1993 and was greeted by national accolades for its layout. It was renovated in 2010, with the greens converted from bentgrass to Bermuda.

The scenic course features eight holes that work around or over Lake Acworth. Although it plays only 6,759 from the back tees, it was tough enough to serve as a qualifying site for the PGA Tour's BellSouth Classic. Cobblestone is consistently ranked at the top of any list of the state's best public courses.

Stone Mountain Golf Club

Located in the eastern suburbs inside the Stone Mountain Park (site of the world's largest piece of exposed granite), Stone Mountain has two distinctly different courses.

The Stonemont Course was designed by Robert Trent Jones and is long and difficult; the first hole is a giant par 4 that may be the toughest opening hole in the state. Stone Mountain's Lakemont Course was designed by John LaFoy and is a friendlier choice for the mid-to-high handicapper, although there's plenty of water to keep you honest.

Chateau Elan Golf Club in Braselton

The Chateau Elan resort, which is built around a winery northeast of Atlanta, features 63 holes of golf, with 45 open to the public. The original Chateau Course, the parkland-style Woodlands Course and the nine-hole executive course were all designed by noted Georgia designer Denis Griffiths, who has an office on the property.

The Chateau Course opened in 1989 and has water on 10 holes and 87 bunkers. Woodlands opened in 1996 and runs over the rolling hills. The executive course is a great warmup or a popular venue for young golfers; no hole is longer than 160 yards.

If you get a chance, don't pass up The Legends Course, which was designed by Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead and Kathy Whitworth and features replicas of some of their favorite holes from around the world.

Woodmont Golf and Country Club in Canton

This northwest suburban course was the first in Georgia designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. Woodmont Golf and Country Club's last three holes are tremendous, starting with the par-5 16th that crosses the fairway three different times.

Mystery Valley Golf Club in Lithonia

Located in the eastern suburbs, this venerable course opened in 1966 but never seems to age.

Renovations, such as a new irrigation system in 2011, has helped Mystery Valley Golf Club withstand the heavy play it receives.

Designed by Dick Wilson, Mystery Valley features an intriguing blend of holes, including one of the toughest in the state: The 408-yard, par-4 15th that features a narrow landing area that's pinched by water on both sides.

The Frog in Villa Rica

Tom Fazio designed this parkland-style course in 1998. The Frog isn't long, but features quality greens and tons of bunkers.

Easily the best course on the city's west side, it has been good enough to host the Georgia Open and numerous other mini-tour events.

More photos

Chateau Elan Winery and ResortWoodmont Golf and Country ClubCobblestone Golf Course - no. 15

Stan Awtrey spent 25 years as a sports writer with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He is editor of Golf Georgia, the official magazine of the Georgia State Golf Association, and writes a weekly column for PGATOUR.com. His work has appeared in dozens of newspapers, magazines and Web sites.

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