Peachtree Golf Club is located in Atlanta and it’s the course that the Joneses built. Bobby Jones was the inspiration behind Peachtree and Robert was the architect. Bobby and Robert were not related but Robert started to use his middle name “Trent” when Peachtree finally opened for play.
The original 9-hole course was completed in October 1947 but the following year, Bobby Jones was diagnosed with syringomyelia, a spinal condition that first caused him pain, then paralysis. Sadly, he would never play the completed course at Peachtree Golf Club.
Peachtree’s glorious location bears more than a passing resemblance to nearby Augusta National, certainly in terms of the tall pines, azaleas and dogwoods in full bloom. Fairways follow the natural contours of the landscape, often leading to enormous greens that are well protected by sand, water or both.
The par five 2nd hole gives an early indication of what lies ahead during the round, setting out along a ridge before it falls over a creek to a split fairway that leads to a pond-protected green. On the back nine, the par five 10th plays to one of the largest greens in the country when originally built.
A renovation program has improved the course immeasurably in recent years. Fairways were converted to zoysia grass and tree pruning has allowed old vistas to be enjoyed once again.
If you have had the privilege of visiting both Peachtree and Augusta, there is no question you will not only immediately see the similarity between them but very well may mistaken the properties from the first fairway if someone planted you there and you did not know exactly where you were.
I've asked several friends to tell me where they think the picture was taken - and each and every one of them guessed Augusta National. The correct answer of course is Peachtree.
While I played Peachtree a while ago in late September 2016, I remember my experience and the course as if it were yesterday. The rolling terrain, fantastic architecture, serenity you feel throughout the round, and near perfect conditions define the experience. Similarly to Augusta, the theme to score well at Peachtree is both knowing where to leave your ball on the putting surfaces and actually doing it. Miss these greens in the wrong spots and similar to Augusta, you have little to no chance for an up and down. Part of the reason for this is both the severe undulations combined with the green speeds that will rival some of the fastest (and truest) you will find anywhere.
Don't confuse challenge for fairness, Peachtree is more than fair. Similar to other brilliant designs, Peachtree dishes out the greatest punishments on errant shots that are short, where you are expected to be more precise. On longer holes, the ability to salvage an up and down is often more realistic.
I played Peachtree from about 6700 yards, which was the perfect length to enjoy risk / reward opportunities and not beat myself up from 7400 yards, which is what the tips play. A few memorable hole highlights include the par 5 second. It's my definition of a dream par 5, reachable in 2 with a solid drive (from the 511 yard tees), but filled with peril for those taking on the risk, and not properly executing the shot to yield the reward. After successfully navigating the water hazard that is in front and to the right of the green (think #13 at Augusta for a good comparison), the green has plenty of movement where a two putt is far from a guarantee. The hole offers up everything from an eagle opportunity to a double bogey, just the way a fun, yet challenging par 5 should be. This turned out to be one of my favorite holes on the course and its a shame it comes so early on in the round.
The 4th hole is the first par 3 on the course and it is a charming little gem. While only a short iron, the 3 bunkers fronting the green protect whatever pin placement is used on that given day. The green has plenty of angle to it, and a shot to the back left pin is a longer approach shot than the front right pin placement, so again, similar to the 12th at Augusta, you have to hit your shot the right distance for the line you take. One of the things that makes Peachtree's approach shots outstanding is that wherever the pin is on any green, there is ample protection forcing a player to hit a quality shot, and if you don't any bunker shot up and down is a tough one. I woudn't look at Peachtree as a course to hope for many lucky bounces, either hit the shots and get rewarded, or get punished.
The 9th hole at Peachtree reminded me of the 9th hole at Augusta. While the 9th at Peachtree is not a hard dogleg left off the tee, the approach to the green is straight uphill and like the 9th green at Augusta, the 9th green at Peachtree is brutally challenging, especially if the pin is back right as it was for me. The green slopes so hard left to right that even the 5 footer I had for par broke nearly a foot. Somehow, I rolled that putt in and decided to see what would've happened had I missed it; as I watched my extra putt roll just short of the hole, it rolled and rolled and rolled until it stopped about 9 feet away. As I mentioned above, the shorter approach shots at Peachtree set you up for the bigger punishments if you miss by more than a little bit. I only had a pitching wedge into the 9th, so accuracy was even more important, because a miscue here and you'd be very likely to take a bogey.
The 10th hole is another fun par 5, again reachable in 2, but seemingly no matter how much club you take on your straight uphill 2nd shot, you should take more to carry a strategic bunker guarding the left side of the humongous greens, which at one point was one of the largest in the country. The 10th is a lot of fun.
The 13th hole is a medium length par 4 that was one of my favorite holes on the course. If you play or have played Peachtree, you may not think 13 is anything special or super sexy, but from my perspective it is fantastic for a couple of reasons. First, it presents a great birdie opportunity and that is always fun. Second, it reminds me of the approach shot to the 14th at Augusta, with a side-winding and sectional green, where hitting a shot in the proper section, can funnel the ball right near the hole, who wouldn't find that fun? With that said, this hole has plenty of bite when things don't go as planned with two greenside bunkers fronting the green, perfect positioned, waiting to swallow up a ball that gets caught up in the wind or is hit just short. Needless to say that up and down is quite challenging and exactly as it should be for yet another short iron approach shot.
The 14th hole at Peachtree made me think about the 16th at Augusta. The view from the tee is quite similar, water short and left, and at 183 yards from the tips, its nearly the same distance. The 16th green at Augusta is more extreme in its sloping and the funnel effect to the left side pin placements at Augusta are more pronounced, but the 14th at Peachtree, is a blast to play and aesthetically gorgeous from the tee box.
Overall, when it comes to visual appeal and enjoyment, along with presentation and conditioning, its really heard to find many (if any) courses that rival Peachtree. William Shirley is without question one of the best superintendants in the country and the conditioning of Peachtree speaks volumes to this. The diamond cut zoysia fairways are nothing short of spectacular to look at, giving you a perfect lie just about everytime, although many of those lies will not be flat. The greens are incredible, running pure and lightening fast. There is seemingly not a blade of grass out of place on the entire property and out of the 600+ courses I have played, I cannot think of any off hand that were in better condition than Peachtree.
In conclusion, this is a solid, balanced, stunning, and fun strong test of golf from start to finish that brilliantly utilizes the natural terrain with strategically placed bunkers in all the right places, with an awesome set of greens. Once you achieve reaching the putting surfaces, you better be super focused on where to hit your putt, or a 3 putt or more will be waiting for you. In my opinion Peachtree is Robert Trent Jones' best design and whatever role Bobby Jones played in the architure here created a great team effort and an outstanding result. If given the opportunity, this is a must play that yields deserving universal appeal.
One of my favorite courses in the country. Understated and low key with a great course.
The last course on my trip to the Pinehurst area was to be played on my way back to Atlanta. I was thrilled at finally having an opportunity to visit Peachtree. It’s no wonder comparisons are often made to Augusta National. Peachtree is referred to as the course the Joneses built. Referring of course to Bobby Jones and Robert Trent Jones and what a joy it is. Bobby Jones found this property shortly after he worked with Alister MacKenzie to build Augusta. It was the similarity of the property that drew him here. Unfortunately he would not live to see its completion.
The first thing that hits you upon walking to the first tee is the rolling landscape, indeed just like Augusta National. The scale of the height differences, the look and feel of the green complexes and the beautiful bunkers and white Augusta-like sand.
Secondly, I’d have to say it bares no resemblance to anything I’d ever seen from RTJ with perhaps the slight exception to Valderrama, minus the cork trees of course. However, there are many similarities to St. George’s Golf & Country Club in Toronto. Which at first seems strange as Stanley Thompson designed St. George’s. Upon further research this all becomes clear, RTJ started his career working for Stanley Thompson and was heavily influenced by him with his first and incidentally his best work.
Right from the start Peachtree really impresses with some interesting movement in the terrain. The second hole is a quirky par 5 dogleg right and down a steep hill. A good drive taking on the slope on the right hand side can offer up a chance to go for this green in two. To do so you need to take on the stream in front and right of the green.
The 4this an excellent par 3 playing up to a slightly elevated green that is wide but narrow and sloped from back to front. The tee shot plays over a small valley and a rather iconic bridge takes you across to the green.
The course continues on working its way around over and through this very interesting and dynamic property. The Joneses made perfect use of the features on this property leaving behind a wonderful course full of strategic and challenging holes, very interesting and undulated greens which are challenging and fun to approach.
It’s easy to see why Peachtree is often considered the best course in Georgia, on top of that it’s open year round. My visit was in July on a balmy morning about 85 degrees and no wind. The course was in the best shape of any course I played last year. That has everything to do with their green-keeping team and their superintendent Mr. William Shirley, who is one of the best in the business.
It’s rare to receive an invite to play Peachtree but if you are so lucky, drop everything and jump at the opportunity.
Peachtree only has 225 members and on the beautiful Spring day I played it we saw only two other group all day. The terrain is some of the hilliest I've played (although the Olympic Club Lake course is hillier). It is not an exaggeration to say that the only flat lies you are likely to get all day are on the tee boxes.
Many of the approach shots are to elevated greens, thus the course plays longer than the card indicates. The course has among the best conditioned and fastest greens I have played. The course also has an ever-present creek that winds its way around the layout and is always ready to catch a wayward shot or to penalize those that should have hit three wood off the tee but through their hubris take the driver.
Comparisons between Peachtree and Augusta are inevitable because Bobby had a hand in designing both; their respective topographies are very similar and Peachtree, like Augusta, was previously a nursery. Several of the vistas a Peachtree could be mistaken for those at Augusta.
Peachtree is a decidedly low key affair, the clubhouse is understated, the grill room is understated and the membership is both low key and low profile. I am a fan of golf clubs like Peachtree.
John Sabino is the author of How to Play the World’s Most Exclusive Golf Clubs
Peachtree was designed by Robert Trent Jones. It is one of his finest courses and jump-started his career as a golf architect. And guess who worked on the club with him? Bobby Jones (no relation), the founder and first president of Peachtree. Jones is credited as a co-architect of the course, just as he is credited with co-designing Augusta National several years later. Peachtree looks and feels like Augusta, with similar rolling terrain and vegetation. You may be interested to know that the clubhouse, the old Samuel House Plantation house, served as General Sherman’s 1864 headquarters in his march through Atlanta to the sea. Larry Berle.