Opened for play in 2007, the Creek Club course is the only private layout at the Reynolds Lake Oconee community, reserved for members and their guests, with Richland Creek coming into play at fourteen of the Jim Engh-designed holes.
For those who venture to Reynolds Lake Oconee for a golf getaway try to see if you can secure an opportunity to play the private Creek Club when there. Architect Jim Engh is more noted for his efforts in Colorado but the layout he created here is quite refreshing for its originality and imaginative routing plan.
The course is blessed with rolling terrain and this element really adds to the range of holes and shotmaking challenges you face. The opening par-5 is a quality starting hole. Giving players the opportunity for the bold play off the tee in hope of possibly going for the green in two shots. Parallel to the line of play down the left side runs pesky Richland Creek which invites players to hit as near as possible to it so that the angle to the green becomes more manageable than if one pushes a tee shot to the far right. I've played my share of Engh courses and his creative senses with par-5 holes is a true testament to his design skills.
The course is aptly named as the creek will be in play for 14 of the 18 holes.
The series of holes that follow is a mixture of short and long.
Creating par-4s that are less than 400 yards and more than 350 is no small feat. Often times the stronger players can usually beat such holes into submission through simple length. The 3rd, at 391 yards, invites the bold play but only when married to archer-like accuracy off the tee as the fairway tapers down and there's also a solitary bunker in the ideal landing spot for those who fail to pay close attention. The approach is also well done with a green residing on the other side of a creek and with different "fingers" which provides for a wonderful combination of pin locations.
At the 5th, Engh brings to life a long par-4 of 474 yards -- again with a creek that splits the fairway in two. The more challenging is the right side -- narrower but also providing a better angle into the green. The same creek runs alongside the green to the left and must be accounted for when driving to the more spacious left side of the fairway.
Dropshot par-3's have become all too commonplace but at the 7th Engh has done well as the green sits just on the other side of a protecting pond. The green also narrows when the pin is placed in the far right corner.
One of the fascinating features of Creek Club is how the fairways always turn in some sort of direction. You don't get the predictable formulaic straight razor cut of grass.
Three of the best holes at the entire Reynolds facility comes with the starting trio for the inward half. The par-4 10th once again uses a creek to its considerable advantage. The hole turns right in the drive zone and a creek runs in a diagonal perpendicular line. The more you hit left the more likely the creek will snare one's ball. Getting the ball down the right side is ideal but a nearby tree line and large bunker await those who poorly execute. The same creek runs alongside the right side of the green.
At the par-3 11th you encounter a boomerang putting green. There's a bailout area to the more spacious left side but when the pin is cut to the far right the landing area becomes much more constricted with wetland bracketing the sliver of green both front and rear. At 233 yards it's good to see the role of a long par-3 have such brilliant elasticity.
The par-5 12th that follows rounds out the troika in grand style. The hole once again uses a split fairway concept to a fine degree. There's ample room to the left but from that position the demands in attempting to get to the green in two shots becomes highly problematic as the creek you face then becomes a larger size pond to the left of the putting surface. The boldest of tee shots can attempt to go down the right side but the play is anything but elementary. There is an armada of small bunkers that must be avoided as well as trees that hug perilously near on that side. This is a par-5 that creates scoring situations -- from eagle to triple-bogey and all of it rests on the shoulders of players to decide which line of attack fits their appetite for caution and risk.
From the 13th thru the 17th you encounter a series of varying holes -- Engh smartly avoids predictability and therefore the interest level is kept up.
The concluding hole is one that will likely strike some as overkill but it's one I found a profound way to finish the round. The 18th is a par-5 that plays 557 yards. The first priority is avoiding three small fairway bunkers placed in the right center area of the fairway. Those who wish to push the risk envelope can aim just to the right of them. If successful you can shorten the hole somewhat and therefore have a go at the green.
The 18th provides for no less than three individual greens. No misprint. It's hard to say which one is the most challenging -- I believe the one to the far right is the first among equals.
The main detriment at Creek Club rests with the usage of zoysia grass for the fairways. The grass type provides for a verdant look when in season and no doubt one's ball sits very well. The downside is that zoysia is more of a cushioning carpet and therefore the wherewithal to secure any ground game dimension is not going to happen. That situation does change during the winter months when the surface is dormant. It's too bad because with a really firm and fast layout the fun factor would only elevate itself to a higher degree.
Like I said at the outset, if you trek to Reynolds see what you can do to secure a round here. Creek Club is captivating and Engh never fails to maximize thought provoking holes where creative thinking and adept execution are always called upon.
M. James Ward