Well, the golf clubs are back in my garage after a quick trip to Georgia starting last Friday. I was meeting some friends up in Chattanooga, TN, to see a concert, but as I often do, I added a couple extra days to fit in some golf. I'm a frugal traveler, so I decided to fly into Atlanta to save on airfare. Since I was getting a rental car anyway, I thought I'd take advantage of the golf prospects in the Atlanta area. I would have 1 day in Atlanta, then off to TN, and then about a day and a half back near Atlanta to fit in some golf before heading home.
I was hoping for a little bit warmer weather than the 60's they had, but it was pleasant, and no rain! I brought along my own clubs and my new favorite footjoy black shoes! Traveling is a great opportunity to clean out your bag and clean up your clubs, too. I'm happy to report I found $8 and some really nice Pro-V's to take along. With a somewhat stressful summer that didn't leave me with a lot of time to play golf, I was really looking forward to some time on the links in Georgia.
Here are my golf adventures...
Day 1 I stayed in Peachtree City, GA, about 20 miles south of Atlanta. I've always thought Phoenix might be my dream retirement spot, but this little gem of a city caught my eye - my favorite thing is when you can drive your golf cart everywhere! They had cart path trails all over and cart parking spots at the shopping areas. Nice! I attempted to check into my hotel a little early but my room wasn't ready. I asked the gal at the front desk if I could use a business center to look up some golf in the area, and she said she could book me a tee time at a course near by. I thought, "great!"...she found out that if I waited until 3pm I could get the twilight rate for $19. Sold!
I almost thought I was lost when I got to the entrance of Flat Creek Golf Club because it said it was a private club for members only. But I went in and parked and found the pro shop. Sure enough they had my tee time. I was a little early, but they let me go anyway. It wasn't particularly busy so I played as a single. The course was nice and in decent shape for late October - not a lot of "green" but the fall colors made up for it.
Having not picked up a club for almost 3 weeks, I was a little nervous about what game, if any might show up. Surprisingly, I hit the ball well! I kept the driver in the bag for most of the day since my 3-wood was my new best friend. The putter was being nice, too. I cruised around the first 9, and then ran into a walker on about 14. Jay offered to let me play through or join him, so I thanked him for invite to play together and we teed off on the par-3. Jay was from the area and was a member at the course. He gave me some great course advice and I had a really enjoyable time.
Overall, the 2 9's I played were relatively tight, usually which houses lining 1 side and either woods or water on the other. Most were straight forward holes, but there were few dog-legs, too.
I carded an 80, with 2 birdies and one big blow up hole...but not bad!
Saturday was travel day so my next round wasn't until Sunday afternoon after coming back from TN. I was staying about 20 miles north of Atlanta for the next 2 nights and I found several courses in the area that had potential. The closest one I could find was The Hooch. It was a par-61, so only par-3's and par-4's. The driving range was full of people when I got there, but the course wasn't totally packed. I started out as a single, but due to the shortness of the course it was basically waiting on every shot. On the 3rd hole I caught up with Eddie. He invited me to join him so I did. I had a terrific time.
Eddie had been playing golf for about a year but had a great swing and hit the ball well. The course played pretty darn short from the "forward tees", but hey, there has to be some advantage for being a girl, right? The course was in decent shape, but some of the greens were a little banged up with ball marks, which is totally understandable. Most of the holes were tight, but with shorter clubs in your hands it wasn't so bad.
I ended up shooting a -1, 60...I love this course!! Honestly, I hadn't played a "short course" in many years, and I really enjoyed it. I paid $24 for 18-holes, which wasn't too bad.
On Monday, my last full day, it was going to be a 36-hole day. I booked my first round on http://www.ezlinks.com/... It was Bear's Best. My rate for 18-holes was $42.50, which was the best I could find. Golfnow had it for $63-$80. I was paired up with a nice couple from San Diego. They were on their way to Hilton Head, but were spending some time in GA to play some golf.
I didn't do a whole lot of research on the course and it wasn't until we got to the first tee that I realized this was a course that replicated some of Jack Nicklaus' best holes from other courses. A pretty neat concept. The course itself was beautiful and was in good shape. What I didn't like was the lack of yardage markers and no GPS on the carts. They must expect everyone has their own now (which I don't!). I saw after the round you could have bought a yardage book for $5...but if I was paying $80 to play I'd think they could throw one on the cart! The course was lined with amazing houses, and there were lots of beautiful drives through the woods to get to the next tee box.
I played decent, but could only muster an 80. I just couldn't get any birdie putts to drop! I enjoyed the course, but was very happy I found a great rate. Bear's Best is a Club Corp course. The couple I played with only had to pay cart fees, which I was a little jealous of.
As soon as I got done at Bear's Best, it was off to find St. Marlo Country Club. This round I booked on http://www.golfnow.com/ and I think it was around $37. When I told the starter at Bear's Best where my next round was, he said it was "okay". I was kind of expecting something less than stellar, but I really enjoyed it! There was lots of elevation changes and several holes required hitting the right landing area to set up the next shot. Still no GPS here, but at least there were yardages on the sprinkler heads and 150 poles in the fairway. A few of the greens were tough, but for the most part they rolled well. Once again, I left my driver in the bag the entire time...that 3-wood was on fire!
I started out again as a single, but then caught up to Randy, who was a member. He was very nice and had a great game. He gave me some good tips on the few holes we played together but he had to go after 9. I had back to back birdies starting the back side, but then had 2 blow up holes as well, so it was an 81 this time. The clubhouse was closed by the time I got there so I couldn't get a logo ball for my Mom. Dang!
Overall, I loved golfing at Flat Creek, The Hooch, Bear's Best, and St. Marlo. The rates were reasonable, the courses were in decent condition, and I met some really nice folks each time I teed it up. The staff at every course was friendly, too. There were at least 6 or 7 other courses on Golf Now that looked like nice places to play, too...and it looks like the Atlanta area definitely has its share of private courses, too. I would definitely make the trek back to Georgia to play more golf!
I'm a little sad that this will probably be the last golf of 2011 for me, but I'm so glad I ended with some decent golf on some nice courses in Georgia.