Georgia golf courses: Wrong kind of long drive? Make a rest stop on I-75
You can make that drive in five hours or less, depending on your sense of urgency. If you come down on the non-urgent side, there are plenty of golf courses close to the highway if your rest stop includes time for a round. Here are a few recommendations, organized by town heading south out of Atlanta.
The first golf stop you'll come to is Forsyth, exit 186. Forsyth Golf Club is just a few minutes off the interstate, about a mile from the center of town.
This older course (opened in 1952) is a good leg-stretcher, short and easy at barely more than 6,000 yards with a benign slope rating of 112.
Municipal Bowden Golf Course is the city's second-oldest track, built by the Works Project Administration in 1940.
Cordele, at exit 101, is equally worth a long stop, especially if you want to combine golf with a little history. It's just south of Andersonville, site of the notorious Confederate military prison where nearly 13,000 prisoners died from poor conditions, starvation, malnutrition and exposure.
The 75-mile Andersonville Trail takes in historic sites and museums as it loops through rural Georgia towns, where you can check out antique shops and buy your fill of peanuts, pecans, watermelons and, of course, peaches.
Combine your history lesson with golf at Georgia Veterans Memorial Golf Course, located in a park dedicated to U.S. fighters. One of eight tracks on the Georgia state-park circuit, the Denis Griffiths layout winds through rich bottom land with mature loblolly pines.
With a 130-slope rating and lots of sand and mounds, the 7,059-yard course should provide just enough diversion to take your mind off the suffering of so many Union troops. It's one of only two independently operated courses in the state-park system and earned a four-star rating from Golf Digest.
Tifton, at exit 62, is home to the Golf Club of South Georgia, a 6,727-yard Don MacMillian design opened in 1992. If you don't have time for a full round there are also a couple of nine-holers nearby, Pine Islands and Forest Lakes.
Only three and a half miles from the highway, this Davis Love III design built around an old borrow pit is a beauty. It was built before the surrounding community so doesn't have the cramped feel of so many residential courses.
It's also one tough play, 7,781 yards from the back tees with a slope rating of 144 and more than the usual allotment of creeks, chasms and pits. A deep ravine gives it a canyonesque, almost Southwest feel. Green fees are reasonable considering the quality of the layout, $65 weekdays and $75 weekends.
Stone Creek Country Club, within yelling distance of the interstate (it's off exit 22), is a former cattle ranch and a country club in name only.
"We call ourselves blue-collar," Director of Golf Shannon Lamb said. "We're more of a golf club than a country club. We're not a snooty-type country club. Everything else is secondary to the golf."
Stone Creek is 6,727 yards with mounded fairways and a fair amount of water. The prices are also non-snooty: $35 weekdays and $45 weekends.
The Golf Place off exit 11 is a good spot if you just want to stretch and hit some balls. This friendly driving range is open 24-seven, and there's usually a blaze going in the fireplace on chilly days.
Last chance before Florida: Francis Lake Golf Club is a flat, fairly easy track with a few challenging holes, attractive mainly for its hard-to-beat green fees of $26 to $35. Not surprisingly, it's one of the most heavily played courses in the area.
"It's my favorite," golfer Luke Bailey said. "I guess because it's the cheapest."
November 29, 2006