Reynolds Lake Oconee on Your Mind

Reynolds Lake Oconee The National (Image: Reynolds Lake Oconee)

The National is one of the resort’s five public-access courses. (Image: Reynolds Lake Oconee)

Carved through pine tree-covered hills in Georgia’s Lake Country, Reynolds Lake Oconee offers five public-access courses and a club-fitting facility just like the PGA Tour pros use.

(Last updated March 2022.)

Unlike Florida or Arizona, Georgia has never been an automatic first choice for Canadians planning a golf holiday. But thanks largely to the growing fame of Reynolds Lake Oconee, one of North America’s biggest and most attractive golf resorts, that may soon change.

The sprawling lakefront resort and planned community, midway between Atlanta and Augusta, includes six golf courses and the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Reynolds. Four of the courses have been extensively renovated by owner MetLife, including Great Waters, the Jack Nicklaus-designed headliner that reopened in October 2019 following a facelift by Nicklaus and his design team. Great Waters features a spectacular routing through a rolling pine forest and ends with eight holes that snake dramatically along the shore of Lake Oconee.

From 1995 to 1997, Great Waters staged the Andersen Consulting World Championship of Golf (now the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship). And in 2020 Nicklaus’s newly remodelled layout was selected to host the LPGA Tour’s Drive On Championship at Lake Oconee.

Reynolds Plantation (Image: Reynolds Plantation)

The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds is set on the shoreline of Lake Oconee. (Image: Reynolds Lake Oconee)

Rounding out the roster are layouts by several of the game’s top architects: The National (Tom Fazio), The Oconee (Rees Jones), as well as The Landing and The Preserve (both by Bob Cupp). Only The Creek Club by Jim Engh is off-limits to resort guests.

A 120-kilometre drive east of Atlanta, Reynolds Lake Oconee is ideally situated for the exploring of Georgia’s Lake Country, a region rich in Southern charm and history that includes the towns of Greensboro, Eatonton and Madison.

Greensboro, named for Revolutionary War general Nathanael Greene, was rebuilt after being burned to the ground and its inhabitants killed by Creek Indians. Spared by General Sherman during his destructive march to the sea during the Civil War, Madison is home to one of the South’s finest collections of antebellum homes. And Eatonton is known as the setting of Joel Chandler Harris’s Uncle Remus stories.

Reynolds Plantation Georgia (Image: Reynolds Plantation)

Great Waters is a Jack Nicklaus design that skirts the lake’s shore. (Image: Reynolds Lake Oconee)

But there’s plenty to do without leaving a 4,046-hectare property that offers a spa and fitness centre, as well as water activities ranging from bass fishing to kayaking and water skiing. Biking and hiking trails provide glimpses of deer, red fox, bald eagles, wading birds and otters.

Tourists should also stay on the lookout for celebrities such as George W. Bush, Newt Gingrich and John Mellencamp known to frequent the palatial homes that overlook manmade—but astonishingly natural looking—Lake Oconee. Country music star Carrie Underwood married Canadian hockey player Mike Fisher under a tent here in 2010.

Though a family destination, the focus at Reynolds Lake Oconee is squarely on golf. In 2014, the resort hosted the Golf Channel’s Big Break Invitational, as well as a heavily publicized exhibition between Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose that featured holes 15 inches wide, an innovation promoted as a way to make the game easier to play for the majority of golfers.

Also found here is a high-tech TaylorMade-adidas club-fitting centre, where visitors can have their clubs customized in the same equipment trailer that once serviced the pros on the PGA Tour.

If the experts at the fitting centre can’t help your game, it might be time to find a course with 15-inch holes.