The Great Waters Course at Reynolds Plantation
One of Golf's National Treasures
By Mike May
Very few golf courses in the world are truly the personification of being peaceful and serene, while also being powerfully pleasing to play. The one golf course that fits that description is located in one of America's most peaceful and serene settings - Reynolds Lake Oconee (reynoldsplantation.com), an hour's drive east of Atlanta. The golf course is Great Waters (112 Plantation Drive, Eatonton, GA). It was designed by Jack Nicklaus and opened in 1992. Great Waters is actually one of six golf courses at Reynolds Lake Oconee. If you watch the Golf Channel, you'll remember that Great Waters was the venue for the inaugural Big Break Invitational in 2014. It has also hosted the Andersen Consulting World Championship (now, the WGC Accenture World Match Play Championship) from 1995-1997. While Great Waters is a spectacular course to see on television, it's even more remarkable to see and play in person. The same can be said about another nearby Georgia golf course that we see on television each April -- Augusta National.
To put Great Waters in the same paragraph as Augusta National is not a stretch. While Augusta National has loblolly pines, dogwoods, azaleas, and Rae's Creek, Great Waters has similar flora and its own stunning and penal water hazard, Lake Oconee. And, just like Rae's Creek at Augusta National, Lake Oconee doesn't really begin to make its presence known at Great Waters until the back nine. The opening nine at Great Waters is terrific - just like a great glass of wine accompanied by a tantalizing appetizer. That's as good as it gets, right? Well, the back nine at Great Waters is jaw dropping and mouth-watering in its own special way, just like an awesome entrée followed by the most overwhelming dessert that you can imagine. Both nine-hole experiences are stories within themselves. While the front nine is attention grabbing and a true delight to play, the back nine takes the golf experience to another level. As beautiful as the scenes of Lake Oconee are on the back nine, watery graves and liquid disaster lurk on the last eight holes of the course.
The most powerful aspect of Great Waters is the course's natural beauty and the attention to detail by the maintenance staff. When you play Great Waters, you get the impression that the course was prepared specifically for you and your foursome that day. The course is not simply well maintained. It's a spectacular spectacle. The greens are not simply smooth and quick. They are perfect and pure. And, every cup is cut with surgical precision. In fact, you dare not drag your feet while walking on those greens. The tees are not just well groomed. They are maintained like hallowed ground. The fairways are not simply well-manicured and well-defined. They are better prepared than some putting surfaces on other top-flight golf courses. If at any time that you take a divot, you have an obligation to fill in that divot like a plastic surgeon might operate on a patient, making sure that it's done properly and with great attention to detail. Leaving an exposed divot at Great Waters is like talking during somebody's backswing. You just don't do that!
The editorial reviews of Great Waters are well deserved and accurate. The Zagat Guide to America's Best Golf Courses rates Great Waters as one of the 20 best courses in the country. And, Golf Odyssey rates the back nine at Great Waters as "The Best Nine Holes in the Southeast." I agree with both assessments.
In many respects, Great Waters (800-901-1204) is a one of American golf's national treasures which all golfers should have the chance to experience and enjoy. I think you'll agree that it's peaceful and serene, and powerfully pleasing to play.
Revised: 03/24/2016 - Article Viewed 30,143 Times
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About: Mike May
Mike May is a Wellington, Florida-based freelance golf and sportswriter, who is also a 25+ year public relations and communications executive in the sporting goods industry. He is also a veteran high school soccer official, an experienced high school basketball coach, an avid athlete, a part-time personal trainer, and a passionate golfer who is forever in pursuit of Old Man Par. He is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America.
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