Golf Club at Cuscowilla a classic example of Coore and Crenshaw's minimalist philosophy

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

The Golf Club at Cuscowilla is consistently ranked as one of the best golf courses in Georgia, accolades that are well earned by this excellent facility.

Golf Club at Cuscowilla - No. 2
No. 2 at the Golf Club at Cuscowilla shows the natural style Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw are famous for.
Golf Club at Cuscowilla - No. 2Golf Club at Cuscowilla - No. 3Golf Club at Cuscowilla - No. 7
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Golf Club at Cuscowilla

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126 Cuscowilla Dr
Eatonton, Georgia 31024
Putnam County
Phone(s): (706) 484-0050
18 Holes | Private golf course | Par: 70 | 6730 yards | ... details »

EATONTON, Ga. - Most modern golf architects make a big hullabaloo about following the natural contours of the land, about letting the terrain dictate the layout and routing. It's sort of the politically correct thing to say about modern golf architecture.

Some of them will tell you this while sitting behind their bulldozers.

There are no architects working today who follow this credo so consistently, faithfully, even passionately, as Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.

When you play a Coore/Crenshaw course, you know what you're going to get: a minimalist approach to golf design. You're going to get a very natural golf course with effortless flow. No gaudy do-dads, no tricked-up green complexes, no fancy accouterments.

The Golf Club at Cuscowilla is such a course, a beautifully designed layout that's a lovely walk in the park, amongst the indigenous flora and fauna, through the wild grasses blowing in the breeze, under tall pines and with plenty of glimpses of the big Lake Oconee.

Coore and Crenshaw like to take wild pieces of land and sneak in their golf courses, almost as if they don't want it to be noticed. Cuscowilla, a few miles outside of Eatonton in a rural, northeast part of the state, is a serene slice of Georgia back-country, hilly and dotted with water and lake views. The picturesque, Georgia red-clay bunkers contrast nicely with the lush fairways and perimeter greenery.

There are people who work at Cuscowilla, non-golfers, who like to ride around in carts and just look at the lovely landscape.

"It's beautiful out here," said Sharon Gillespie, on vacation with her husband. "He plays golf, but I just like to ride around and enjoy the scenery."

Of course, you wouldn't want to do that if you're a golfer. It's a lovely setting that's only enhanced by one superbly crafted golf hole followed by another.

Coore and Crenshaw don't feel the need to overwhelm you with length, as so many architects do, and Cuscowilla fits that mold. It's 6,847 yards from the back tees, and its relatively easy slope rating of 130 belies the sort of golf experience you will get.

There are some forced carries that are tough but not overly daunting. Just hit your natural drive, and you should make it over. There are uphill and downhill tee shots, rolling and tilting fairways and enough risk/reward doglegs to make you feel like a Wild West card sharp.

The excellent bentgrass greens are an extension of their philosophy. First of all, they are in pristine condition, as is the rest of the course. They are nicely contoured, with excellent slope and undulation, and fairly quick.

Golf Club at Cuscowilla: The verdict

Cuscowilla, across the lake from the well-known Reynolds Plantation, has won all sorts of recognition from almost all of the major golf publications after opening in 1997. Golf Week has ranked it, at various times, as the best and second-best residential course in America. They are well earned distinctions.

The course advertises the back nine as the "waterfront" part of the course, but the first half of the course is my favorite; that section seems wilder than the back, where you start to run into more houses and cottages.

Be aware, such excellence isn't cheap. This is a resort course that charges resort fees. Resorts and sponsored guests will pay $125, and unaccompanied guest green fees are $135, which includes a forecaddie or cart. It is open for public play only on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Non-resident golf memberships are available, and walking is allowed any time.

Also, there are two nice restaurants: the Golf House Grill, a 14,000 square foot "Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired" facility, and the Waterside Restaurant, which is open for dinner.

Eatonton resorts

Cuscowilla is a 700-acre resort with almost seven miles of water frontage on Georgia's second-largest lake, 19,000-acre Lake Oconee.

There are peaceful, cedar and pine shake golf cottages and lake villas for rent, as well as the new Mediterranean-style lodge villas with terra cotta roofing and Tuscan interiors.

Non-golfing adults can have fun here, with canoes, kayaks, jet skis, tennis courts and walking trails, as well as massage therapy. There is also a conference center.

Families also like to vacation here because of the Kids Club located by the swimming pool in the Lake Village. It has a swing set, basketball court, ping pong, foosball tables and toys for small children.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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