Arrowhead Pointe Golf Club – Much More Than You’d Expect.

Few private or resort courses have the geographical characteristics golf course designer Bob Walker was given when he designed Arrowhead Pointe. In fact, Walker has said that basically the state handed him 400-acres of land within the Richard B. Russell State Park in Elberton, GA and said, “put the course wherever you need to.” And Walker did just that.

This 6,861-yard masterpiece sits on a peninsula on Richard B. Russell Lake and offers some of the best water views and scenic vistas anywhere in the South. Better yet, there are no lakefront homes or even private docks to spoil the view as you make your way around the course.

Arrowhead Pointe Golf Club is not without its share of accolades, having been named the 2nd Best New Affordable Public Course in America by Golf Digest in 2005. It has also been ranked #10 on Golf Advisor’s list of Top 25 courses under $50 and TravelGolf.com placed Arrowhead Pointe on its list of the Top 10 courses in the state of Georgia.

From the back tees, Arrowhead Pointe plays 6,861 yards with a course rating of 72.5 and a slope of 134. Most men will find that the white tees at 5,971 (68.9/119) will give them a challenge and let them enjoy the scenery. If they need more, there’s a fourth set of tees that play 6,458 (70.7/129). Ladies typically play from 5,221 yards (70.4/122). The bottom line is that there is a yardage that is suitable for everyone; just be sure to pick the one that best suits your game and you’re sure to have a good time.

The course was designed back in 2001, but for budgetary reasons, did not open until July 2004. The Georgia State Park system boasts eight high quality golf courses, and while Arrowhead Pointe may not be the most difficult, it has by far the most breathtaking views. Water does come into play on at least 8 holes and thankfully most of what you see does not come into play. When it does, there are no overly long carries over it; hit your ball in the water and odds are that it’s your fault.

In addition to the water hazards, you’ll find some significant elevation changes, tree-lined fairways, a myriad of doglegs – both left and right – and strategically place bunkers, primarily on the peripheries of the fairways. Well-groomed fairways lead to TifEagle Bermuda greens with subtle undulations and very few straight putts. This is one course that seems to have it all.

In creating Arrowhead Pointe, Walker wanted to make the course playable for golfers of all levels of ability. Each hole tends to have a safe route for less experienced players and a more challenging route that provides certain risk/reward opportunities for seasoned golfers. During your round, you may find it necessary to play both routes. Not only will it benefit your scorecard, it will greatly enhance your enjoyment.

The front nine has several interesting holes, most notably the par 5’s. Number 1 is a fairly straightforward hole that plays uphill and considerably longer than the stated yardage.  Only the longest of hitters will get on in two; for the rest of us, the landing area is very generous off the tee. A layup down the right side will take the fairway bunker on the left out of play and set up an easy approach. Three good shots and you can tame this hole.

Even Head Golf Professional Barry Johnston says that the par 5, 5th hole is best played as a three-shot par 5. The best way to make birdie is to hit your approach shot close. There’s bunkers in play on both your tee shot and layup shot and the green complex is fronted and flanked by sand as well. The green slopes gently from back to front. Played correctly, this hole can let you put up a low number.

Both par 3’s on the outward nine play uphill and require an extra club or two to compensate. Another similarity: both feature green complexes that are well guarded by bunkers. The toughest hole on the front side is the par 4 6th, a 412 yarder that plays slightly uphill. Favoring the left side off the tee gives the best angle into a long, multi-tiered green. Number 6 provides the first view of the lake and gives you a taste of what’s to come.

The back nine features not only a number of challenging holes, it has some of the most incredible views in all of the state. It all starts on Number 12, a 368-yard par 4 (White Tees) which offers a great view of Lake Richard B. Russell and continues on Number 13, where a finger of the lake juts out and must be carried on this medium length par 3. The lake really steals the show on number 14 (361 yards from the White Tees), where it frames both sides of the fairway, giving the illusion that the hole plays a lot narrower than it really is.  Carry the fairway bunker on the left and you’ll have a clear shot uphill to a long, narrow multi-tiered green well protected by bunkers. A front/back pin placement can be a 3 or 4 club difference.

After your round, be sure to visit Arrowhead Pointe’s café, where you’ll find a good selection of traditional clubhouse grub as well as all of your favorite libations.  The pro shop is stocked with great looking logoed apparel from a lot of the industry’s top names including Titleist, Antigua and Adidas. There’s also a full-length driving range where you can hit every club in the bag and trust me, you’ll use every one of them during your round. The practice putting green will give you a pretty good idea of what you will face over the next few hours.

In addition to being a great day trip for golfers in the area, Arrowhead Pointe and the Richard B. Russell State Park makes a great golf buddy destination. The park has 20 cottages that can be rented at a very reasonable rate, especially when split 4 ways. Each cottage has 2 bedrooms, each with two double beds, fireplaces, screened porches, a private dock, patios with barbecue grills and, of course, beautiful views of the lake. In case roughing it is more your style, the park also has 28 camp sites. For more information or to book a tee time or one of the cottages at Richard B. Russell State Park, visit their website at www.arrowheadpointegc.com. For lodging information, click on the Georgia State Parks link on the homepage (www.gastateparks.org). Arrowhead Pointe is a proud member of the Georgia Golf Trail, a collection of some of the finest golf courses in the state. Check them out at www.georgiagolftrail.com.

The Club at Osprey Cove Review – A South Georgia Track That Shouldn’t Be Missed

Located literally minutes from the Florida/Georgia border, Osprey Cove has a lot to offer. This private, gated community features luxury homes in a resort atmosphere and the climate in St. Marys, GA although warmer, allows residents to experience all four seasons, even if the colder weather is brief – just the way I like it.

Residents at Osprey Cove will find their social calendars crammed with things to do, whether it involves the fitness center, tennis or swimming pool, bike riding, boating or gardening. If that doesn’t provide enough opportunities to keep oneself busy, there’s always the 18-hole championship Mark McCumber-designed golf course.

Osprey Cove Golf Club opened for play in 1990 and over the years has gone through some tumultuous times which saw the course deteriorate to almost unplayable levels. Over the last 10 years or so, Osprey Cove has undergone a tremendous rejuvenation and is considered to be the best golf course in the area. This past summer saw the installation of new TifEagle Bermuda greens and two of the industry’s top magazines – Golf Digest and GolfWeek have recognized Osprey Cove as a “Must play if you are within 100 miles’ as well as a “Top 5 Course in Georgia”.

From the back (Black) tees, Osprey Cove plays 6,778 yards with a course rating of 72.9 and a slope of 135. Mere mortal men will find that the Blue Tees (6,236/70.7/131) provide an ample challenge and take out a few long carries off the tees. Ladies have a couple of choices as well; most choose to play from the Red Tees (5,062/70.0/117). There is a total of six sets of tees that create a yardage and difficulty suitable for golfers of ages and abilities.

Osprey Cove is the epitome of a Southern coastal golf course. It sits at the edge of the expansive St. Marys River basin and is designed around a wild life preservation area among tidal inlets and pristine marshes along the river. Golfers are treated to magnificent views out across the marshes on many holes.

Memorable Holes (All Yardages are From the Blue Tees)

Number 3: Par 5, 441 yards. Although this is a short par 3, Number 3 can be a very challenging hole, especially for someone who is not familiar with the course. What you think could be a perfect drive could easily land in the wetlands, especially if you try and hug the right side. A tee shot just shy of 240 yards will land you just short of the water that bisects the fairway. The trio of pine trees on the left side of the fairway up near the green help to create a kind of double dogleg. An approach shot with a bit of a draw could find the green and set up an eagle opportunity. Miss the green to the left and the deep bunker will test your ability to get up and down. The green is shallow and can be tough to hold with a long approach shot. Par is a good score here.

Number 5: Par 4, 334 yards. A short par 4 with an interesting ending. By that I mean the pot bunker that sits directly in front of the green, taking away the bump-and-run and forcing players to fly it on the elevated green. There is a lot of roll and undulation in the fairway and your tee shot is somewhat blind. Front middle pin placements will make you earn a low score.

Number 9: Par 4, 342 yards. Trees right and the expansive marshlands on the left keep you honest off the tee. Middle of the fairway is an ideal place to come in from. There’s a large deep bunker on the left and another to the right of this double green that co-exists with Number 18. A fair and rewarding end to the outward nine.

Number 11: Par 3, 113 yards. If I were naming holes, this one would be called “Sand” because it’s everywhere. Carry the waste bunker off the tee, avoid the two pot bunkers that guard the front of this elevated green which slopes back to front and you’ve got it made!

Number 15: Par 4, 381 yards. Standing on the tee, you’ll notice a large oak tree in the middle of the fairway, just short of where you want your ball to land. If you’re like me, I take dead aim at it, that way I’m assured of not hitting it! Left of the tree with a little bit of a fade works well too and leaves a mid-iron into a green fronted on either side with bunkers.

Number 18: Par 5, 468 yards. Number 18 requires a fairly substantial carry over the marsh from any of the men’s tee boxes. McCumber has placed fairway bunkers in the landing area on the left side off the tee and a couple more in the landing area and middle of the fairway to penalize otherwise successful layup shots. The marsh creeps up to the green on the right side and more well-place bunkers can wreak havoc with short approach shots. To me, this was the most entertaining hole on the golf course. Any pars (or better) are well earned.

Last Word: Osprey Cove is a golf course that won’t beat you up, but at the same time, it won’t let you push it around either. To many, it’s a shot maker’s course that demands a high level of placement and execution if you want to score well. McCumber has given players many targets to aim at to keep them on course. If you can do that, you’ll find yourself writing down some favorable scores. Fail to do so and you’ll pay the price.

One memorable characteristic of Osprey Cove is the smallness of the greens, compared to other area courses. Many of them have significant slope and undulations or are tucked precariously behind bunkers.

All in all, McCumber did a great job of using the natural terrain and river to create an exciting golf course that can be enjoyed by everyone. Osprey Cove is private club caliber with access to the general public and should not be missed by golfers in the area. Golf Digest had it right when they called Osprey Cove a “Must Play if You’re Within 100 Miles”. Osprey Cove is easily accessible from Jacksonville and the Amelia Island area and is a great stopover for snowbirds who are looking to get in one more round as they are heading back home.

Unlike many residential developments of this caliber, Osprey Cove offers stay and play packages that include accommodations in one of their luxurious suites overlooking the 18th hole, an in-room continental breakfast greens fees, cart fees, range balls and access to club amenities.

For more information or to book a round or a stay and play package, visit their website at www.ospreycove.com.

 

University Park Country Club – Some of the Best Golf in Sarasota

University Park Country Club – Some of the Best Golf in Sarasota

Within the gates of University Park Country Club in Sarasota FL sits 27 holes of championship golf that will test even the best of players. Each layout was designed by Ron Garl and can be played in 3 different combinations, offering members a wide variety of golf holes.

University Park opened in 1996 and has been rated 4-stars by Golf Digest in their Places to Play. This semi-private facility offers both memberships and daily fee rates, so it is accessible to anyone who wants to accept the challenge.

A community that was once referred to by the Association of Home Builders as the “Best Community Design in America” deserves a great golf course and Garl certainly delivers. Garl used whatever the topography of the land gave him and carved a beautiful golf course from the woodlands and natural habitat. Many of the holes feature fairways lined with trees and natural Florida vegetation and only a couple do not offer wide, ample landing areas off the tee. Although water is visible on a number of holes, it really only comes into play on 12 or so. Some holes require an easy forced carry over water or wetlands that shouldn’t pose a problem to any golfer – provided you’re playing the right set of tees.

Rather than having catchy or symbolic names, the holes are simply numbered 1–9, 10-18 and 19-27. Each nine presents its own unique set of challenges.

Holes 1-9

From the back (Diamond) tees, Holes 1-9 play 3,548 yards. Most golfers will be amply challenged from the Platinum tees (3,023 yards), while the ladies’ yardage is 2,394 yards. Number 2 is a par 5 that will be reachable in two for many players and can help get a good round off to a quick start. It requires a precise approach shot to a narrow green protected on the left by water, and with the green set on an angle, you may need one extra club to reach a back-pin placement.

It’s not often that bogey can be considered a good score, but it is on Number 3, the layout’s #1 handicapped hole. It’s a dogleg right that slopes to the right, so unless you know you have the length, cutting the dogleg is not a good idea; that is unless you enjoy hunting for golf balls. A good line off the tee is the fairway bunker on the left with a little bit of a fade. Almost 93% of the players out here do not hit number 2 green on their second shot, so be prepared to go for an up and down to save par.

The par 3, number 5 is University Park’s signature hole and at only 140 yards from the Platinum tees, it provides many with a fitting challenge. You may want to consider hitting one extra club off the tee in an effort to clear the front bunker that sees a lot of play. Long is better than short!

Holes 10-18

Holes 10-18 are roughly the same length as 1-9 (3,456 from the Diamond, 3,072 from the Platinum and 2,481 for then ladies), with water factoring into the equation on all but two holes (13 and 14). This side starts out with a somewhat short par 4 – 342 yards from the Platinum tees – but don’t let that fool you. Although the fairway opens up to the right just past the trees, there’s a pond lurking over there. If you can favor the left side off the tee, you’ll be left with a medium to short iron into a wide green. With the green sloping form back to front, try to keep your approach shot below the pin to have the best shot at birdie.

The two finishing holes on this side really set this nine apart. Number 17 is the #1 handicapped hole and, at only 359 yards from the Platinum tees, requires an extremely accurate tee shot to a very narrow landing area with water on the right. An extra club might be the right call on your approach shot; it plays slightly uphill and is fronted by a beautiful – yet treacherous – bunker.

Number 18 (379 yards, Platinum Tees) has always been one of my favorites out here and I have yet to master it. There’s water on the right side off the tee and trust me, it is reachable. Shorter right off the tee and you’re in the fairway bunker. From here you’ll need to carry not only the water but also navigate around or over a couple of trees, all from the sand. Good luck! The left side is no bargain either as a cluster of bunkers await errantly hit shots. Find the fairway off the tee and your chances to score well here increase dramatically. There’s a large trap that guards the right side of the green, which is open in the front left. A word of warning on your approach shot: long and left Is death!

Holes 19-27

Holes 19-27 play slightly longer than the other two nines (3,151 yards from the Platinum Tees, 2,468 for the ladies). Number 21 (384 yards from the Platinum Tees) is yet another hole at University Park that requires accuracy off the tee. Even a good drive is going to leave a long second shot that needs to be struck crisply. When in doubt, aim for the left side of the green; if you come up short, you’ll still have a good chance at up and down to salvage par.

Hole Number 26 is a challenging par 5. Although water doesn’t – or at least shouldn’t -come into play, what it lacks in water, it makes up for in sand. You’ll need to avoid the fairway bunkers on the right off the tee; longball hitters may have an opportunity to go for the green in two. If you find yourself having to layup, there’s a series of three bunkers about 100 yards short of the green in the middle of the fairway. The green is best approached from the left side. For those trying to reach in two, take dead aim straight over the fairway bunkers.

The final hole is the shortest par 4 on the course. Playing a mere 330 yards from the Platinum Tees, a well struck tee shot over the first fairway bunker on the left will leave a short iron or wedge into one of the course’s smallest greens. It’s a great opportunity to end your round on a positive note.

Last Word: University Park Country Club offer six sets of tees, so that anyone –  regardless of their skill level – can enjoy the course. There’s a large, full-length driving range where players can hit every club in their bag, a great short game area and a large practice green where you can groove your putting stroke before heading out on the course. Inside the clubhouse, University Park’s pro shop is stocked with all of your favorite logoed golf apparel from designers such as Fairway & Green, Tehama, Cutter and Buck and Jamie Sadock, as well as equipment from some of the biggest brands in the game. You’ll find them competitively priced with the big box retailers.

Another thing that sets University Park apart is their culinary staff. Executive Chef Roger Turtch has plenty of experience at high end private country clubs and his highly trained team uses only the freshest ingredients, prime meats, fish and poultry to create dining experiences unlike anything you’ve had before. Club members and visitors to the facility are invited to enjoy lunch at The Park Grille & Café, Monday – Saturday between 11:30 am and 2:30 pm. Their vast menu includes mouthwatering burgers and sandwiches, homemade soups and gourmet salads that are anything but typical. Dinner is reserved for members and their guests.

It’s often been said that membership has its privileges and University Park Country Club is no exception. They offer 30, 60 and 90 Day Trial memberships for those who are interested in giving the country club lifestyle at University Park Country Club a try. These memberships are available for full memberships, Tennis & Fitness and dining. You are limited to one time, kind of a try before you buy.

Another popular membership is the Summer Golf Membership which starts at just $500 for the entire summer. Just pay cart fee and you’re on your way. It’s another great way to introduce yourself to the club and at the same time meet some new friends.

If everything goes as it should, either of these programs will lead to an Annual Membership, which gives unlimited access to all University Park has to offer. Annual memberships are available in seven classes, just call Ann Backus, Membership Director for more information at 941-355-3888 ext.234. You can also visit them online at www.universitypark-fl.com.