Extending to over ten thousand acres, the Reynolds Lake Oconee property – formerly known as Reynolds Plantation – is an old family hunting and fishing retreat that now operates as an enormous residential and resort development just over an hour’s drive east of Atlanta.
The Oconee River was dammed in 1979 to create a massive reservoir, around which the Linger Longer development company sold plots of land for housing, constructing six golf courses during the 1980s and 1990s to attract potential buyers to build along the 90 miles of Lake Oconee shoreline. A 251-room Ritz-Carlton lakeside resort and spa appeared in 2002.
Bob Cupp designed the first two Reynolds courses (Reynolds Landing and Plantation) and they opened for play in the late 1980s. The 18-hole Great Waters layout was next to be unveiled by Jack Nicklaus in 1992, followed by a 27-hole Tom Fazio track (The National) five years later. Rees Jones added the Oconee course in 2002, with the Jim Engh-designed private Creek Club making its debut in 2007.
Host to the Anderson Consulting World Championship of Golf from 1995 to 1997, the Great Waters course is routed close to the sparkling waters of the lake (where almost all the holes on the back nine are situated) and the 186-yard inlet-crossing 14th is regarded as one of the best par threes in the Peach State.
All the greens and bunkers were upgraded in 2009, restoring the shapes and sizes to the original Golden Bear specifications. A major improvement involved the changeover of turf on all the putting surfaces, which were converted from bentgrass to Bermuda.
Great Waters will be renovated again in June
2018, led by Nicklaus Design associate Chad Goetz. New greens, bunkers, tees
and water features will be installed. According to Rabun Neal, president of
Reynolds Lake Oconee: “Our desire is to keep the course true to Mr. Nicklaus’s
original vision while modernizing the course where appropriate - and prudent -
and adding length where available.” Great Waters will re-open in autumn 2019 and
we expect the acclaimed Nicklaus Signature layout to rise in our 2020 rankings.