Escape to the secluded woods of central Georgia, adventure to inland Florida or tee off in southern Utah’s high-desert at these three destinations with 18-hole courses that both challenge and excite golfers. The best part: Their usually sunny winters allows golfers to tee it up throughout the season.
1. Greensboro, Georgia
Location: 81 miles east of Atlanta
What it offers: As they do at Augusta National, host of the annual Masters Tournament, azaleas bloom by the thousands at Reynolds Lake Oconee, a luxe golf destination in the picturesque Georgia pines along Lake Oconee’s sprawling, serpentine shoreline. Four of Reynolds’ five resort courses, about an hour west of Augusta, rank among Georgia’s top courses, with each presenting a variety of architecture, topography and shot-making challenges.
The portfolio’s crown jewel: Great Waters, a Jack Nicklaus-crafted masterpiece renovated in 2019 that hosted the LPGA Drive On Championship last fall. Half of its holes are on Lake Oconee — none until No. 9 — and none better than No. 11, a drivable downhill par 4 that demands accuracy, enticing players to go for the green from the tee. From beginning to end, the back nine plays like a dream as every hole (except No. 10) hugs the water, with Nos. 14 and 17 — both par 3s — playing over coves with a gallery of boaters and swimmers cheering on golfers.
The other courses in the Reynolds lineup will impress you, too. At the National, three nine-hole layouts are painted with the ingenious brushstroke that is a Tom Fazio-stamped golf course, where tabletop greens, undulating fairways and more than 100 bunkers accentuate Georgia’s natural scenery. For another strong test of your game, the Oconee Course, adjacent to the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, checks all of the boxes, especially the lake-guarded ninth hole. The Preserve offers a fun and casual six-hole alternative — called the Quick Six — where no hole tops 130 yards and rounds finish in less than an hour. And don’t overlook the Landing, Lake Oconee’s original course, which was renovated in 2013. Known for its fast greens and Scottish traits, the Bob Cupp design is forgiving off the tee and, according to Wes Forester, Reynolds’ director of golf, is the collection’s “most underrated course.”
Insider tip: Fine-tune your swing and golf equipment with a master club fitter and builder at the Kingdom at Reynolds Lake Oconee, one of only two such TaylorMade facilities in the country. The Kingdom this year added a second club-building trailer that uses the same state-of-the-art technology Tour players use.
What you’ll pay: Great Waters starts at $195 in low season. You'll pay the least, $40, at the Preserve.
Where to stay (splurge): Renovated in 2020, the 257-room Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, blends upscale living with Southern hospitality. Pamper yourself at the spa, hit its 21 miles worth of hiking trails, and imbibe in its lobby Barrel Room, manned by certified bourbon stewards. From $459
Where to stay (save, if you’re with a group): Spread across 374 miles of scenic shoreline, Reynolds Lake Oconee Cottages are ideal two-, three- and four-bedroom options for sharing during golf getaways with friends and family. From $460.