National golf course at Reynolds Plantation: Fazio golf all the way
GREENSBORO, Ga. - No matter how many golf courses you've played or where, you can't help but be impressed by at least a few holes on the National course at Reynolds Plantation.
Over its 27 holes, there are at least a half dozen stunners.
Designed by Tom Fazio, National is a sandy golf course, with 115 bunkers. The course comprises three nines: the Ridge and Bluff opened in 1997, the Cove in 2000.
Assistant Professional Ryan Frisch said the course's key ingredient is shot-making.
"There are very strategically placed bunkers, both in the fairway and at the greens," he said. "It's not a terribly long course, but the false fronts on the greens are very Fazio-like."
Balls don't hit the front and roll onto the green, they embed into the side of the hill and stick within inches of where they landed.
All the way around, the course demands strategy and execution. Many fairways slope right, a few left, so use the terrain to your advantage. In Fazio fashion, the bunkers themselves are a statement. They aren't just oval, but have tentacles in every direction. They are worthy of being considered works of modern art, certainly in their grouping and distribution. Few courses are so visually dramatic.
National at Reynolds Plantation: The Ridge
No. 6 was one of my favorites on the Ridge nine at Reynolds Plantation's National golf course, a par 5 with a do-not-hit-it-right tee shot and a landing area that sharply slopes right, all feeding into a mess of bunkers. Once you get past your tee shot, all of the trouble shifts to the left, with a chain of huge bunkers, followed by a pond. The green has water on three sides. I looked back wistfully as I drove onto the next hole.
I was wistful until I got to No. 8. What a hole. From the tiered tee boxes, the par-5, 400-plus yard hole (413 to 497 yards) unfolds before you. Bunkers on the left are there for your tee shot, right bunkers for your second shot. Then back up to an elevated, tiered and sloped green for your approach.
National at Reynolds Plantation: The Bluff
Elevation changes and a bevy of bunkers continue for the first couple of holes on the Bluff nine at Reynolds Plantation's National course. Then there is the par-3 No. 4 right along the lake. It's a little overkill on the water hazard, if you ask me, with danger everywhere on this little slice of golf hell. Humongous bunkers left and rear and that damn lake right. Great hole.
No. 6 begins blandly with a blind drive on what the card says is a par 5. Then you crest the hill and before you is a hole you won't forget. It drops sharply, then slams into a hairpin (well, almost hairpin) turn left around a pond and a few state-sized bunkers to a tiered, undulating green. No matter how you play this hole, you'll envision how it could be played - next time. It is ultra, irresistible risk-reward. You won't be able to help yourself.
The rest of the Bluff doesn't disappoint, doling out exquisitely done holes: A thrilling ride down from the tee to the green on the par-3 No. 7; a rocky, craggy creek meanders through No. 8 (lay up, trust me); and a stunning finishing par-4. No. 9 is a dogleg right covered in bunkers and bent around a pond. Cutting the corner could cost you a trip to the drink. Once on the green, there could be a whole lot of real estate and a ramp between your ball and the flag.
National at Reynolds Plantation: The Cove
The No. 4 par 5 on the Cove nine at Reynolds Plantation's National golf course is straight out for two-thirds. Then it turns left, but you don't know what's ahead until you're at the hard left. From there, you have to hit your approach shot into the equivalent of a second-story window, clearing a creek before the ascent for good measure. It's gimmicky, but fun.
The par-3 No. 7 is a beautiful hole with a great view from way up on the tee boxes. The grass right in front of the tees is about two feet tall, giving you a closed-in feeling. If you don't hit the green, you're in for a straight-up pitch shot.
No. 9 ends with a green hiding behind a pond with a few bunkers to make the approach even narrower. A layup is a reasonable option.
National golf course at Reynolds Plantation: The verdict
Ron Friedman of New York played all 27 holes.
"It's a beautifully playing course," he said. "The grass in the rough is tough to hit out of. You've gotta drive long on these courses."
Luckily, the fairways are wide open.
"Course management was very important," Friedman added. "I could have taken out a 3-wood, but I took a 4-iron."
Joel Kornbluth of Hollywood, Fla., also played all 27 holes.
"I enjoyed the risk-reward of the course," he said. "If you play it smart, you'll score well. If you don't you'll get creamed. It's absolutely necessary to drive it down the middle."
Overall, National is a fun course with a lot of holes that will stay with you.
August 12, 2009