North, south, east and west: Good golf in any direction all over Atlanta

By Stan Awtrey, Contributor

Like most large metropolitan areas, it's not easy to get from one side of Atlanta to the other. In addition to the simple mileage -- 50-60 miles from one area to another -- there's the constant issue with traffic. What appears at a glance to be a trip with a 30-minute travel time can easily become 90 minutes or longer if there's an accident or roadwork.

Chateau Elan - Woodlands Course
Chateau Elan Resort offers some of the best golf in the northeast part of Atlanta.
Chateau Elan - Woodlands CourseGeorgia Club - clubhouseSt. Marlo Country Club - 16th holeStone Mountain Golf Club - Lakemont Course - No. 5
If you go

Fortunately for golfers, there are good golf courses in each of Atlanta's major quadrants. You don't have to travel from one side of town to the other to find a good course. It's possible to stay in your own neck of the woods and still find a facility that will be challenging and enjoyable, without the hassle of extended time in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Most of the accessible top-tier facilities are located on the northside in what's known as the Golden Arc. This area can be subdivided for golf purposes into the Northeast (Gwinnett County and Fulton County on the east of Hwy. 400) and the Northwest (Cobb County and Fulton on the west of Hwy. 400).

Golf in northeast Atlanta

The Chateau Elan Resort has two 18-hole layouts, both designed by Denis Griffiths, and a fun nine-hole practice course. The original Chateau Course features elevation changes and rolling hills, while the newer Woodlands Course is more of a parkland style. (A third layout, the private Legends Course, is great if you can wrangle an invitation.)

Legacy on Lanier Golf Club is a fun 18 holes that plays alongside Lake Lanier and was renovated and upgraded by architect Billy Fuller in 2010.

Heritage Golf Links is a challenging 27-hole facility in Tucker. The original 18 holes are the best, and the ninth and 18th holes are among the toughest finishing holes in the area.

A little closer to Athens is the Georgia Club, which has 27 holes designed by Griffiths, the Red, Black and Silver. It features large greens, and runs around and through trees and lakes, plus has one of the best practice areas in Atlanta.

Golf in northwest Atlanta

You don't want to miss Cobblestone Golf Course, an 18-hole beauty designed by Ken Dye. The course is located on Lake Acworth and was renovated in 2010 with new greens and bunkers. The price is affordable, and the people are friendly.

St. Marlo Country Club, a semi-private design by Griffiths, is one of the most visually appealing courses in Atlanta, with areas of stacked stone, exposed rocks and trophy homes. St. Marlo is a thinking-player's course, where second shots are most important.

Steel Canyon Golf Club in Sandy Springs is a fun, par-61 executive course by Mike Riley built on a landfill. New greens and affordable prices make Steel Canyon a popular place.

Golf in east Atlanta

One of the most popular courses in the area is Mystery Valley Golf Course, an 18-hole municipal facility in Lithonia that is always busy. That's because the Dick Wilson design that opened in 1966 is normally in good condition and is fun and challenging.

Cherokee Run Golf Club in Conyers, an Arnold Palmer-Ed Seay design, has bounced back from some poor ownership decisions to find new life. A recent green renovation has breathed new life into the place, which features one of the best 18th holes in the area.

Stone Mountain Golf Club offers two completely different courses. Stonemont is a back-breaking Robert Trent Jones course that opens with a long par 4 that is one of the toughest in Atlanta and continues at a relentless pace. The Lakemont Course, designed by John LaFoy, is more docile, despite more water worries, and has some great views of the mountain, the world's largest piece of exposed granite.

You won't be able to play Atlanta's famed East Lake Golf Club without a connection, but you can see it from the Charlie Yates Golf Course. The 18-hole executive course is across the street and offers enough variety to make things fun.

Golf in west Atlanta

Finding The Frog isn't easy; it's far away from the city and tucked away in a corner of Villa Rica. But the Tom Fazio design is definitely worth the effort. The course isn't overbearing and requires you to think about position off the tee. Those who don't better bring a good sand game.

Wolf Creek Golf Club is definitely worth consideration. Located close to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the course has a few blind shots but is fun and affordable.

If you only have time for nine holes, try the College Park Municipal Golf Course. It's been around a while (there's a plaque at the flag pole to honors those from the "Great War" -- meaning WWI), but they recently paved the cart paths and spruced the place up.

Golf in south Atlanta

The courses on the Southside are often less-crowded, but that doesn't mean they lack for quality.

Orchard Hills is a 27-hole facility in Newnan should be near the top of any list. Orchard Hills boasts of providing the feel of a traditional Scottish links course. There are rolling hills and numerous natural grassy areas on this Don Cottle Jr. design.

Crystal Lake Golf & Country Club in Hampton is another Griffith design that features some great routing and interesting options. The key here is placement off the tees. If you stay out of the rough, you can survive. It's sister course is Eagle's Brooke Golf & Country Club in Locust Grove. The Scott Pool design is a difficult tract, with lots of sand and plenty of forced carries.

The Lake Spivey Golf Course in Jonesboro has 27 very playable holes. The course was one of the first in the city to switch to Bermuda greens.

Stan AwtreyStan Awtrey, Contributor

Stan Awtrey spent 25 years as a sports writer with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He is editor of Golf Georgia, the official magazine of the Georgia State Golf Association, and writes a weekly column for His work has appeared in dozens of newspapers, magazines and Web sites.

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