The Reynolds Lake Oconee resort – which started out as the Reynolds Plantation – lies an hour’s drive east of downtown Atlanta, set within a huge 10,000-acre property that was formerly used as an old family hunting and fishing retreat.
The Oconee River was held back in 1978 to create a large reservoir around which the Linger Longer development company sold parcels of land for housing before constructing half a dozen golf courses along the shores of Lake Oconee.
The Landing and The Preserve were the first two Bob Cupp-designed 18-hole layouts to arrive at the resort in the late 1980s. Shortly after, Jack Nicklaus constructed the Great Waters course which was followed in 1997 by Tom Fazio’s 27-hole National layout.
In Daniel Wexler’s The American Golf Resort Guide the author describes the National course as follows: “The Bluff and Cove nines form the strongest combination, with the former peaking late at the 574-yard 6th, the 213-yard creek-flanked 7th, the 397-yard 8th and the 420-yard 9th, a dogleg right to a lakeside green.
The Cove makes several trips to the lakeshore but seldom is the water’s presence too invasive, leaving as favorites the 563-yaqrd 4th (a double dogleg where a creek menaces aggressive seconds) and a pair of stiff par 4s; the 449-yard 8th (a sharp dogleg right) and the 462-yard pond-fronted 9th.”
We're of the opinion that the Ridge and Bluff nines form the National's premier 18-hole configuration, but if you're visiting the resort it would be a shame not to play all three loops.
The main 18-hole layout of note comprises the Ridge and Bluff Nines. Tom Fazio has created a quality effort, however, much of it rests on presenting the "look" that Fazio has succeeded in doing at a number of other layouts he has crafted.
Predictability is front and center with a rare inclusion of a few holes that clearly rise beyond the acceptable level. And the routing follows a fairly simplistic plan going in a fairly straight line of holes before reversing and following a similar direction in return.
To be fair, Fazio is fully capable in producing detailed designs that clearly deliver scintillating holes. His effort at Reynolds is a good effort -- but hardly among the top tier grouping of courses he has created.
M. James Ward