Mention Atlanta Country Club and the BellSouth Classic springs to mind or is it called the AT&T Classic these days? Wasn’t the tournament called the Atlanta Classic when it was first inaugurated in 1967 and Bob Charles was the first champion? Anyway, the “Classic” is no longer held at Atlanta Country Club, in recent years the tournament has moved to TPC Sugarloaf, but Atlanta Country Club will always be fondly remembered as THE “Classic” venue.
During the Civil War, on this parcel of land in Cobb County north of Atlanta, the shots came from rifles rather than golf clubs. The Chattahoochee River and the historic banks of Sope Creek were battlegrounds of the North and South with the future of the Republic in the balance. Thankfully times have changed. For the visiting golfer your greatest challenge will be to find a friendly member to sign you in.
Willard Byrd originally designed Atlanta Country Club in 1965 and Bob Cupp and Jack Nicklaus later made modifications to the layout. Majestic pines and aged oaks line each and every fairway and more than half the holes on the course feature dangerous water hazards. Bent grass greens and Bermuda fairways help to make the whole experience not only challenging but also rather well groomed.
Everyone knows, or ought to know, about the closing hole at Atlanta. The 18th receives the accolades and quite rightly so as it’s perhaps the finest closing hole in the USA and certainly on par with Pebble Beach’s finale. The Atlanta par five closer is a natural amphitheatre which turns hard left from the tee where a pair of lakes wait in hopeful anticipation to welcome your tee shot. Measuring a little more than 500 yards, it’s not a long hole by today’s measurements but it’s a supremely strategic hole, especially if the pin is cut in a wicked Sunday position. Host to the inaugural Players Championship in 1974, Atlanta Country Club may not be the longest course, but it's steeped in history, is tight, demanding and a supremely strategic test of golf.
Other than Peachtree GC, the greater Atlanta metro area is not blessed with commendable golf courses. The Atlanta Country Club, however, is a step above most clubs.
Although the original architect does not have a huge portfolio of recognised courses, the tree lined fairways, dramatic changes in elevation and dangerously difficult water hazards augment the quality of this course. There are many meandering creeks and streams that really come into play – whether they are kissing the edges of the greens, or running parallel to the entire length of the fairway! I found the course a good challenge and very rewarding.
There are many really attractive visuals at Atlanta Country Club, including amazing stone/rock work, colourful flowerbeds and really healthy trees, which highlight the tremendous attention to the detail here. The conditioning and player experience is superb.