Over the past couple of years, I have been blessed to have the opportunity to have played a number of the Georgia State Park golf courses and all have provided a pleasant surprise. All of the State Park golf courses are part of The Georgia Golf Trail, as are a number of some of the state’s best public access courses.
It has been my experience that most golf courses with the words: State, City or Municipal somewhere in their name are nothing more than glorified goat patches. Fields with tee markers at one end and a flag at the other. What seems to suffer the most at these courses are the greens; most don’t have the money to hire someone to do a competent job and they end up with patchy greens at best. Something else many of these facilities lack are practice facilities, especially full-length driving ranges.
Not so at the golf courses that are part of the Georgia State Parks Department. The greens for the most part are in great shape with the exception of one course that had been frost bitten. However these greens should be back in good shape within 3 – 4 weeks. Good undulation, a playable speed and overall well kept. All had full-length driving ranges. In fact, a couple were packed with golfers just there for the practice.
Arrowhead Pointe at Richard B. Russell State Park in Elberton, GA is probably the most challenging of all of the State Park courses. And the most scenic too. The course was designed by Bob Walker and is located in Richard B. Russell State in the Northeast Georgia mountains. Ten of the 18 holes skirting the shoreline of Lake Richard B. Russell. The water does not come in to play that often but it sure does make for some great pictures. There are plenty of elevation changes, doglegs and strategically placed bunkers that will have you using every club in your repertoire. The TifEagle Bermuda greens have a lot of subtle breaks that will keep you on your game if you want to score well. To me, Arrowhead earns an easy A.
Brazell’s Creek at the Gordonia-Alatamaha State Park in Reidsville, GA is one of the most unique courses I have played…anywhere. The opening holes are a shot maker’s paradise, tee-lined and tight. Accuracy, especially off the tee, is needed if you’re going to score well on this nine. The greens are well undulated and while not on the fast side, they will challenge you. With all of the trees surrounding each hole, the last thing you need to worry about is the wind. After leaving number 9 green and stopping by the clubhouse for some beverage, you drive through the forest across a 1,500-foot wooden bridge. When you see the light at the end of the tunnel and emerge from the woods, what you see before you is the back nine. All of it. No trees, just a wide open nine holes of golf. And lots of wind. Brazell’s Creek earns a B+.
The Highland Walk Golf Course at Victoria Bryant Park is also a good test of golf; it is also a good test of rangefinders with a slope feature. Saying some of these holes have a lot of elevation change is like saying Mt. Everest is just a big hill. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the elevation changes, it beats paying the flat Florida courses I’m used to. You start out with a short downhill Par 4 that plays a lot less than the stated 297 yards. For many it’s drivable and a great way to get your round off to a great start. The signature hole is a 317-yard par 4 that requires a 220+ yard carry off the tee and then a blind approach shot straight up the hill. Highland Walk is a fun course and I’ll give it a B – unless you’re walking. Then it’s a C+, plus oxygen!
The Creek Golf Course at Hard Labor is another well designed and challenging layout. Out here you’ll find narrow tree-lined fairways and Champion Bermuda greens. As far as scenery goes, The Creek is a clear-cut winner with creeks winding their way across fairways, a water wheel, waterfalls and wild animals…. all of the distractions a golfer needs, especially when he’s not playing well. The first hole at The Creek has been voted “the hardest starting hole in Georgia.” Not bad for a State golf course! Ladies typically like this course as most of the water hazards that come into play off the tee for the men have been taken out of the equation for the women. My grade for this course is a solid B; ladies will probably give it an A.
The Lakes Golf Course at Laura S. Walker State Park is just a fun layout to play. The course was designed by Steve Burnes and many of the bunkers and waste areas feature native sand. The course has three large lakes that you will encounter and play around as you make your way around the course. There’s a good mixture of tree-lined and wide-open holes; water comes into play on quite a few too. Number 11 is one of those tree-lined holes. It’s a par 5 dogleg right that, with a good drive down the left side is reachable in two. You just need to keep it in play off the tee. Number 9 is a par 4 that features water all the way down the right side and a bunker in the landing area on the left. The Lakes earns another solid B. Once the greens fill in, we’ll upgrade it to a B+.
As you can tell from the grades earned, the golf courses at the Georgia state parks are worthy of a visit. Better yet, these are great courses for a buddy’s trip, or couples get away. All parks of cottages for rent and each cottage features two separate bedrooms with bath, a full kitchen, comfortable living areas with flat screen TVs and porches or patios.
Golf trips to any of the Georgia State Parks or anywhere in Georgia for that matter can be booked through Georgia Golf and Travel. For more information on all of you golf travel needs and desires within the State of Georgia, contact Doug Hollandsworth by phone at or drop him an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Georgia has a lot to offer golfers and the State Park courses are not only great, playable courses, they are also value priced.