Living the Life: On the Links
It’s not surprising that when most people think about golf in Georgia, they immediately picture the renowned Masters Tournament, held annually during the first full week in April in Augusta. It’s a tradition that golf enthusiasts—and even casual golf observers—know well and anticipate, as it brings together the world’s best athletes in the sport for the first major of year. Yet, the beloved event is actually only one element in the overall golf community in the state. In fact, Georgia, and metro Atlanta in particular, offers a wide variety of golf opportunities, from gorgeous golf courses on which to play to welcoming golf communities in which to live. And if you’re not familiar with the area’s golf options, then get ready to go green in a whole new way.
Alabama has the famed Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. The Florida Golf Trail is equally celebrated. And South Carolina’s Waccamaw Trail along the Hammock Coast is comprised of some of the most revered golf courses in the region. So what about Georgia? For many years, golf simply was not synonymous with the Peach State. And the City of Atlanta and its surrounding areas have been known for many things—but golf typically has not been one of them. That’s unfortunate, as the metro area is actually home to a thriving and diverse golf community.
“So many people do not know anything about golf in Georgia. Yes, we host the best golf tournament in the world, but we also have five PGA events that take place in the state. And we have more than 400 golf courses in Georgia. Some are private, and some are public. There is so much to offer,” says Doug Hollandsworth, founder of Georgia Golf & Travel, home to The Georgia Golf Trail, which is a collaboration between the state’s top resorts and golf clubs from the mountains to the coast. “In fact, Georgia is a place where you can play golf 12 months out of the year.”
Jason Taylor, communications and marketing director for the Georgia State Golf Association, agrees, pointing to the proliferation of golf venues in the metro Atlanta area. “The golf opportunities in metro Atlanta and the surrounding areas are abundant. Whether it be a local driving range, a daily fee facility or a private club, there are options for everyone,” he notes. “And Georgia is just a great location for golf, in large part because of the weather. The climate here—most of the time—is ideal for getting out and playing. Golf can be played pretty much year-round all over the state.”
What’s more, Hollandsworth adds, the diverse topography of the state makes it fantastic for golfers who want to enjoy various golf experiences all within one state. He asserts, “We have the mountains, the lakes, the coast, state parks and Atlanta. We have courses everywhere. We really have some beautiful holes to play in Georgia.”
The Long Game
For golf aficionados who want more than just a day on the links, metro Atlanta offers a residential hole in one with its many remarkable golf communities. Providing easy access to exceptional golf courses, as well as a multitude of home style and amenities, these communities offer the quintessential golf lifestyle.
Traditions of Braselton
350 Traditions Way
Jefferson, GA 30549
Why settle for having access to one golf course when you can have access to two? When residents of Traditions of Braselton secure a membership to the Traditions of Braselton Golf Club in Jefferson, they also are able to partake of the Hamilton Mill Golf Club in neighboring Dacula. The Traditions Course is a semi-private, par-72, 18-hole championship course that is managed by ClubCorp and marked by a rolling, tree-lined layout that is reminiscent of a traditional northeast course. The 6,876-yard course, designed by Arthur Hills protégé Mike Dasher, offers the perfect challenge for players of all levels with five tee placements and has been recognized by Golf Digest as a Certified Launch Monitor Facility, which makes it the perfect location to improve your game with access to both private and group instructional programs. Its sister course, the 18-hole, par-72 Hamilton Mill Course, offers panoramic views of its bucolic surroundings and repeatedly has been recognized as one of Atlanta’s Top 10 Golf Courses. The private 6,843-yard course, designed by Fred Couples and Gene Bates, boasts playable Bermuda grass fairways and greens and year-round conditioning. Together, the courses are a golfer’s dream. And for those who love golf courses but don’t necessarily get out on the greens, social memberships are available through the Traditions of Braselton Golf Club, which also features a well-stocked pro shop and delightful Bar and Grill.
Equally divine are the myriad residential offerings found at Traditions of Braselton, located just one hour north of Atlanta. From low-maintenance ranch residences to spacious and well-appointed two- and three-story homes, home buyers—from growing families to downsizing couples—undoubtedly can find the home styles that speak to them within their budgets. You can purchase a spec home or design a custom-built residence with the help of the building partners that work within the community, including the renowned Paran Homes. Regardless of which company you choose, all of the homes are expertly situated within the sprawling 1,140-acre master-planned community and designed to maximize the view, whether it’s of a sparkling pond, the surrounding woods or the golf course itself. The community also offers a resort- inspired lifestyle complete with an Owners Clubhouse that boasts a catering kitchen, a fitness center and a room for yoga, kickboxing and aerobics, as well as a junior Olympic-size pool with a water-slide, six lighted tennis courts, a pickleball court, festival lawn and more. The draw of the neighborhood is its ability to serve as a suburban oasis and provide residents with “luxury living in a country club setting.” The entire community exudes Main Street charm, as well as an unparalleled blend of relaxation and refinement. What’s more, Traditions of Braselton is just moments from bustling downtown Braselton and the surrounding area, which boasts an array of shops, dining options, breweries, wineries, recreation opportunities and much more.
54 Wolfscratch Village
Jasper, GA 30143
A good game of golf needs a serene backdrop, and you can’t do much better than the 27-hole championship Mountain Course in Big Canoe. The Joe Lee-designed course features vistas that include breathtaking mountain peaks, rushing streams and lush valleys. Additionally, the community is home to the Choctaw, Cherokee and Creek courses, which are nine holes each and will challenge players of all levels. A day on the links also includes a chance to visit the Clubhouse at Lake Sconti, which is located on Lake Sconti overlooking the ninth fairway and offers some of the most beautiful views of Big Canoe.
Located only an hour north of Atlanta, Big Canoe is a 6,700-acre private residential community that offers an array of home styles in various neighborhoods, from small southern cottages to large lakeside estates. You can purchase an established home or build a new home, depending on what fits your needs, and prices vary based on what you plan to purchase; therefore, it’s best to work with a real estate professional who knows Big Canoe well. No matter what you choose, you’ll find that you have the best of both worlds, as the community is in both the mountains and on the lakes. In fact, this Blue Ridge Mountain community boasts three dazzling lakes: the aforementioned Lake Sconti (recognized for leisurely fishing expeditions), Lake Petit (known for rainbow trout fishing) and Lake Disharoon (the best spot for swimming and water sports recreation). What’s more, as a resident of Big Canoe, you have access to a wide array of outstanding amenities throughout the community, including The Swim Club, the Wildcat Recreation Center, award-winning hiking trails, a racquet club for tennis and pickleball, a 17,000-square-foot fitness center with an adjacent spa and dining and shopping options both inside and outside of the gates.
Soleil Laurel Canyon
102 High Mountain Trace
Canton, GA 30114
There’s a good reason why Soleil Laurel Canyon was awarded the title of Best 55+ Community by the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association. In addition to maintenance-free, ranch-style homes, spectacular views of the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains and a host of world-class amenities, the community provides access to one of the metro area’s finest golf courses, Fairways of Canton.
Located just outside the gates of and adjacent to Soleil Laurel Canyon, Fairways of Canton offers 18 holes and 6,500 yards of unequaled play. The course is par 72 and features generous fairways and smaller greens and chipping areas, making the course as challenging as it is beautiful. Both members and non-members can schedule tee times every day of the week, and Soleil Laurel Canyon offers its own ladies’ and men’s golf clubs, which are open to all residents of all skill levels.
The single-family homes within Soleil Lauren Canyon range from the mid-$200s to the low $400s; the community’s selection includes Cottage, Traditional and Craftsman-style homes with open floor plans and an array of impeccable interior features. The homes also are designed with aging-in-place features, including stepless-entry access and wide doorways. And in addition to the splendid golf offerings, the community has an entire suite of exceptional amenities, such as a 30,000-square-foot clubhouse that includes an arts and crafts room, a billiards room, a fitness center, a gourmet catering kitchen, an indoor heated saline lap pool and more. A lagoon-style pool, community garden and greenhouse, fishing lake and tennis facility round out the list. In addition, two lifestyle directors are onsite to maintain a full social calendar for residents, from wine socials and movie nights to chili cookoffs. It’s resort-style living in one of metro Atlanta’s most serene and welcoming locales.
The River Club
1300 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard
Suwanee, GA 30022
When golf legend Greg Norman is the designer of a golf course, you know it’s going to be spectacular. And that’s just what The River Club Golf Course is. The 7,212-yard, par-72 course is situated in a Certified Audubon Sanctuary setting in Suwanee, located less than 35 miles from Atlanta. It offers views of the Chattahoochee River Valley, as well as 18 holes of championship play. It also features a signature hole: the 163-yard Hole #17, which is played from an elevated tee to a beautiful island green. Without question, the course, which has been the host site for three U.S. Open qualifying competitions, is one of the best in the metro area. It also is at the heart of The River Club, a gated community unlike any other.
The River Club is home to an array of luxurious residences that feature exquisite American and European architecture and a price point that begins at $1 million plus. The community works with talented builder guilds and architects to review each home plan before a residence is built to ensure architectural integrity, quality and craftsmanship that meet the high standards of The River Club. In addition to the opulent homes, the community is home to amenities like the Chattahoochee River Trail, a 10,000-square-foot clubhouse, the Lakeside Sports Center, a kid’s club and more. And all of it sits on 700 acres of land that has been preserved with the utmost care. For the golfer who is also a nature enthusiast, there is not a better community to call home.
2419 Lake Arrowhead Drive
Waleska, GA 30183
There’s nothing quite like golfing in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains. Fortunately, you can enjoy the experience every day when you live in Lake Arrowhead, located just outside of Canton in the northwest portion of metro Atlanta. In addition to the community’s namesake, a spectacular 540-acre lake that has been recognized as one of the cleanest lakes in Georgia and is known for its fishing and boating, Lake Arrowhead gives homeowners a chance to be part of the Lake Arrowhead Yacht & Country Club, which is home to the 18-hole championship Highlands Golf Course.
The 6,998-yard, par-71 course, which was designed by DJ DeVictor, measures nearly 7,000 yards and is open daily for play amidst some of the most beautiful scenery in the area. What’s more, the coveted golf destination boasts five sets of tees and full-service practice facilities, including a driving range, chipping greens and putting greens. The course was named the “Best Golf Course in Cherokee County in 2010” by Cherokee Life Magazine, and it continues to attract golfers of all levels to enjoy the unique experience of North Georgia golf. It is open to the public, but memberships at Lake Arrowhead are available as well. Among the many golf-related benefits, members enjoy 13-day advance tee time reservations, unlimited use of the driving range and HMS Golf Passport privileges, which include unlimited complimentary green fees, cart fee-only golf, member merchandise golf pro shop special pricing, a designated member-guest play day, participation in golf events and club tournaments, club fitting and much more. And when you’re finished with your round of golf, or are simply looking for a great place to dine, you can have a lovely meal at The Highlands Grill, which offers a wide array of special dining options throughout the week.
On the residential side, there truly is something for everyone at Lake Arrowhead. The community is comprised of three neighborhoods: The Woodlands, which features ranch homes on heavily wooded home sites ranging from the mid- to high $200s; Highlands Vista, which boasts new ranch-style homes priced from the high $200s to the mid-$400s; and Sanctuary Cove, the community’s premier luxury lakeside neighborhood that includes 28 home sites from the $300s to the $800s. Home buyers can work with local real estate professionals to find an established home within the community or with Majestic Lifestyle Builders, the exclusive homebuilder for Lake Arrowhead, to create the home of their dreams. All residents also have access to a host of amenities, such as resort-style pools, more than eight miles of hiking and nature trails, a tennis and pickleball court complex, a lakeside marina, an eco-garden area, a batting cage, a tumbling hill, a sand volleyball court and more. With so much available, it’s no wonder why Lake Arrowhead is known as “Metro Atlanta’s Best Kept Secret.”
The Sweet Spot
From courses within the Georgia State Park system to private courses sprinkled throughout the area, it’s easy to find the perfect golf venue for your needs. Here are a few to consider:
The Bobby Jones Golf Course, located off Northside Drive in Atlanta and featuring a unique reversible 18-hole golf experience. bobbyjonesgc.com
Fox Creek Golf Club and Legacy Golf Links in Smyrna, which both offer an executive-style layout for a quick round of golf. legacyfoxcreek.com
Acworth’s Cobblestone Golf Course, an upscale municipal course on Lake Acworth that offers affordable daily fee play. cobblestonegolf.com
The Georgia Club, located in Statham just outside of Athens, which offers a championship course with par 3s, 4s and 5s for players of all levels. thegeorgiaclub.com