Situated less than an hour’s drive northeast of downtown Atlanta, the 18-hole layout at the Country Club of the South was the first Jack Nicklaus Signature course to be unveiled in the vicinity of the state capital when it opened for play with nine holes in 1987. Six months later, the Golden Bear returned to sign off the project by playing the new back nine.
Set out within a gated community, the course was the venue for the first four editions of the now defunct Nationwide Championship on the Senior PGA Tour, starting in 1991. It’s reckoned the players thought the 2nd hole was one of the toughest on the senior circuit, evidenced by Gary Player and Lee Trevino both scoring 7s during their first practice round at the club.
In recent years, the club embarked on a major renovation of the fairways, practice facilities and tees with a multi-million dollar investment in its infrastructure. As part of the course upgrade, the Mizuno Corporation formed a partnership to build the most modern, state-of-the-art training facility in the region.
Country Club of the South is nice but not great. A Nicklaus design, it amazingly opened in 1987. A year after his comeback win at Augusta. The first hole is a good starter. Par 4 with trees and creek right. However, the creek cuts in front of the green at a 45 degree angle to increase the difficulty of the approach shot. The par 4 2nd is an excellent example that a hole does not have to be long to be difficult. Only 370 yards from the tips, one does have to carry an inconsequential water hazard off the tee, but the challenge is the meandering brook to the right. Similar to one, the creek then juts in front of the green and hugs its left side. One other peculiar feature, on the right side there is a tree growing out of a rock. This can block out drives down the right side, especially if the flag is right. An early sign of Nicklaus’ bias for faders. Best of all, it is the number one handicap hole. The par 5 3rd will be hard to get home in two. Dogleg right (surprise, surprise) if you can bomb it over the right side trees is really the only chance. Depending upon the tees you are playing the par 4 4th is a good scoring oppty. The fairway narrows significantly the closer to the hole you get. The 5th is a mid distance par 3, where you have to carry a water hazard (if you are in, you hit a really bad shot. A redan green with a bunker protecting front left. I really liked the reverse S par 5 6th. Distance wise it is certainly reachable in two. They would be outstanding shots. Never crossed my mind, I was happy to get there in four. The 7th is another par four dogleg right. Good oppty to score, however, be wary of the bunker on the inside elbow. The 9th is another slight dogleg right. Demanding hole, long tight and water to the right of the green.
The back starts with the easiest par 5 on the course. Big hitters can get there in two. Eleven is probably the straightest, non-par 3 hole on the course. However, it is very tight. The 12th is the opposite hand of the 2nd hole. A wee bit shorter, the creek starts on the left and then meanders in front of the green and protects it on the right. The double green par 3 13th is the signature hole. The creek bisects the green. The left easier to go pin seeking. Neat golf hole. The par 4 14th is a big dogleg left. And of course the par 4 15th is a big dogleg right. Do not get to greedy off the tee less ye be blocked out. The 16th is a tough par five. Out old friend the creek wanders in and out on this hole and splits the fairway. Play it as a 3 shotter. The 18th is a demanding par 4. Favor the right side off the tee and exercise discretion to this well protected green.
Country Club of the South has a couple of really interesting holes, especially 13. What is noteworthy is how small the greens are except for the par 3s. Good not great.