An introduction to Atlanta
Atlanta is a city that has seen a lot over the years. It has been embroiled in military conflicts with most of the city burning down during the Civil War. It spearheaded the civil right movements as the home city to Martin Luther King. And finally, it was also the host destination to the 1996 Summer Olympics. This was no mean feat for what was essentially just a railroad town in the early 19th century.
Today Atlanta is one of the most popular and buoyant cities within the States, with huge multinational corporations based here. This really feels like the epi-centre of the south.
See also: What are the best golf courses in Georgia?
A visit to Atlanta simply has to start with some of the more cultural landmarks. Places like the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park, celebrating the man’s legacy. And the Centennial Olympic Park, a vibrant place to enjoy the green space, surrounded by shops, restaurants and malls.
Staying with the outdoors theme, the Botanical Garden is without doubt one of the most beautiful places in the U.S. Maybe not on the same level, but still fascinating, is the incredibly popular World of Coca Cola. This huge tribute features thousands of works of art and memorabilia to the drink that originated in the city.
Some of the best golf courses in Georgia are located in Atlanta. Let’s have a look at which they are.
The best golf courses in Atlanta
Piedmont Driving Club
The central hub to this course is also the Piedmont Driving Club, located just a 5 minute drive from downtown. But the actual course’s location is a 20 minute drive southwest from downtown, into the green and leafy suburbs.
The location is wonderful. Stacked around Cowart Lake with no residential developments encroaching the fairways, the curse of many great golf courses.
The architect Rees Jones was given the job of routing Pidemont Driving Club in this scenic location. The terrain is relatively hilly. There are many holes where you’re overlooking other fairways or have views out across the lake.
Playing the course you’ll come across gently undulating fairways and target-like greens, either protected by water or steep run-offs. Clearly water comes into play on over half the holes so make sure you take plenty of spares. Those holes not running adjacent to water are instead weaving their way through the elegant pines.
This is a wonderful course and great fun to play.
East Lake Golf Club
This once mighty golf course is still without doubt one of the best golf courses near Atlanta. But it has suffered somewhat from urban sprawl and its once isolated location is now surrounded by residential properties.
The history of East Lake stretches way back to the beginning of the 20th century, 1908 to be precise. Tom Bendelow was commissioned to design East Lake in what was a quiet parcel of land to the east of Atlanta.
Over the years, there have been many high points, culminating in being the host venue to the 1963 Ryder Cup. This was where the United States spanked the Great Britain & Ireland team 23-9, without losing a single match.
It was also the home course to arguably one of the greatest golfers of all time, Bobby Jones. So much so, anyone visiting here can enjoy the Bobby Jones memorabilia on show in the clubhouse.
Following Bendelow’s initial design, there have been many iterations to the course. The likes of Donald Ross, George Cobb and Rees Jones have all imprinted their mark here.
But it is Donald Ross’ changes which are most visible today on this wonderful parkland course. Expect carpet-like fairways, pristine tee boxes and lightning greens.
Druid Hills Golf Club
This is a private club located in the quiet and historic Druid Hills neighborhood.
In fact the Druid Hills neighborhood is famous in its own right. It was designed by the greatest landscape architect of his era, Frederick Law Olmsted. Still today is a sanctuary of peace just 10 minutes from downtown.
The club is located within 180 acres of rolling parkland characterised by three streams and tall elegant hardwood trees. The course originally opened for play in 1912 and was designed by the Englishman Herbert Hayden Baker.
The club slowly grew in stature over the decades that followed all the time remaining a strictly private member’s club. Yet over the years more facilities were added so golf wasn’t the only activity onsite.
The highlight for the golf course was hosting the U.S. Women’s Open in 1951. Whilst in 2003 it underwent a major renovation. Bob Cupp was entrusted in revitalising the course in a style more reminiscent of the ‘golden age of golf’.
The course really is delightful. The rolling hills create some wonderful vantage points and elevated tee boxes. There are multi-tiered greens to attack with the aforementioned creeks coming into play on more than a couple of occasions.
Rivermont Golf Club
Tucked away between the hubs of Sandy Springs, Alpharetta and Johns Creek, is Rivermont golf club. Here is a family-orientated private club of which the centre-point of the estate is the 18 hole championship course.
The club is owned by the Cupit family and has been ever since it first opened its doors in 1973.
Joe Lee was the architect of Rivermont and over the years, it’s hosted numerous high profile tournaments. The Atlanta Amateur Championships, the Women’s Top 60 Championship, as well as a whole range of qualifiers for the United States Golf Association.
2006 was the year the course underwent a major restoration, under the stewardship of Mike Riley. One of the main recipients of said restoration were the greens, which were in dire need of being updated. After literally rebuilding each one, they are now considered some of the best not just in Georgia, but the nation.
To add to this acclaim, in 2014 the club was voted as the Georgia Private Club of the Year by the Georgia Golf Course Owners Association.
Peachtree Golf Club
A golf course considered one of the finest in the nation, let alone the state of Georgia. Peachtree golf club is located to the north of the city towards Sandy Springs and Doraville (yes, the hometown of the Atlanta Rhythm Section band).
The course was a design collaboration between Bobby Jones and Robert Trent Jones (no relation). The precursor to this project was when Bobby Jones worked with Alister MacKenzie building a new golf course called Augusta National. Even back then, people realised this was going to be something special.
Therefore expectations were high for Bobby at Peachtree. On this project he was partnering with another of the time’s greatest golf course architects in Trent Jones. Yet Trent Jones was a far more dominating character than MacKenzie was. Subsequently far more of his character and design traits made the final cut at Peachtree.
At 7,200 yards from the back tees it was long for its day. But in hindsight forward thinking from Trent Jones. The site is full of tall elegant pines, not too dissimilar to Augusta, as well as azaleas and other flowering plants. The fairways are lush and traverse the rolling terrain in style. The greens are large and welcoming, but well protected.
This really is a ‘peach’ of a course (yes I know…apologies).
Atlanta Country Club
Regularly considered one of the best golf courses in Georgia, let alone Atlanta. The Atlanta Country Club was the vision of local businessman Jim Clay who was driven to create a world-class golf course in his hometown of Atlanta.
The site chosen to house the project was a lush green expanse of woodland half an hour’s drive north of the city overlooking the Chattahoochee River.
In 1964 the club opened with architect William C. Byrd entrusted to design the course. Byrd was a man who made his name designing solid golf courses that were playable, fair and easy to maintain.
At Atlanta Country Club, it’s fair to say he achieved this and more. The course plays ridiculously well, laid out on hilly terrain with elevation changes coming into play on many of the holes. There are just a handful of holes in the middle which are flat. A couple of lakes and a number of natural creeks continue to keep things interesting.
Jack Nicklaus was brought in more recently to update the course although its calibre has never been in question. The PGA Tour’s Atlanta Classic was held here for over 30 years, and this was also the host venue to the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 1971.
Cherokee Town & Country Club (North Course)
Unlike many ‘town and country’ clubs, Cherokee literally does have the two locations. One location near central Atlanta called ‘Town’, and the other pitched way out in the suburbs, ‘Country’.
Nestled between Sandy Springs and Roswell, wrapped on two sides by the Chattahoochee River, is ‘Country’. This is a delightful spot, heavily wooded and dense in vegetation and it houses 36-holes of spectacular golf.
One of the most exclusive private clubs to gain entry to, Cherokee first opened its doors back in 1956. The first 18-holes to see daylight were designed by David Gill. The other 18 hole layout, the North course, had a slightly more convoluted journey.
William C. Byrd, the man behind Atlanta Country Club, was engaged in 1977 to design 9-holes. The second nine opened 9 years later and was designed by the duo of Rocky Roquemore and Joe Lee.
The course we know today was really brought to life in 1998 by Tom Fazio when he fused together the two nines. This instead created one outstanding layout recognised finally as one of the finest in the state.
Cobblestone Golf Course
Cobblestone is without doubt one of the most popular public golf courses near Atlanta. It is located up on the banks of Lake Acworth, close to both Acworth and Kennesaw.
Ken Dye was brought in to design the course, which opened for play in 1993. Dye is a relatively unknown entity, but over his career his name is against many decent courses. And here at Cobblestone is without doubt one of his finest.
This isn’t one of the longest courses but it is 100% fun to play.
It is also without doubt one of the most aesthetically pleasing golf courses around Atlanta. Although the course is on the banks of Lake Acworth, few holes actually come into play with water. Excluding one hole, the third, a Florida par 3 with nothing but water between the tee box and green.
Recognition has certainly not been short in coming. All three major publications, Golf Digest, Golf Magazine and Golfweek all unanimously agree this is one of the best public golf courses you can play in the U.S.
Country Club of the South
To the north of Atlanta is a hotbed of golf courses all running alongside the Chattahoochee River. Amongst others are Rivermont Golf Club, Atlanta Athletic Club, Cherokee Town & Country Club and many more.
Another high profile course is Country Club of the South, a private gated community just to the north of the river. It was here that Jack Nicklaus built his first golf course within the vicinity of Atlanta.
The first nine holes opened for play in 1987 with Jack returning six months later to work on the second nine holes.
Throughout the 90s, the club was one of the host venues to the Nationwide Insurance sponsored Champions tour. This meant the likes of Lee Trevino and Gary Player were playing here annually. In fact the second hole was voted by the senior players as the hardest on the senior tour.
The course itself is laid out across gently rolling hills surrounded by elegant pines. Lakes and a couple of creeks come into play on a handful of occasions, whilst many of the greens are well protected but also quite small in comparison to the norm. Therefore a lot can be made, or lost, approaching the green.
Atlanta Athletic Club (Highlands)
The last golf course on our list and it is one which packs a punch as one of the best golf courses in Georgia.
The history of Atlanta Athletic Club goes way back to 1898 when the first guise of the club opened. Yet in the 1960s, partly due to outgrowing its previous plot but also due to its membership moving north into the suburbs, the club relocated to Johns Creek, just north of the Chattahoochee River.
The new site was a haven of green, with tall elegant pines and flowering shrubs in abundance. Robert Trent Jones was called upon to design the new course and 27 holes duly opened for play.
The signature course is the Highlands, which is in fact 9 holes from the original 27 designed by Trent Jones, as well as a further 9 holes designed by Joe Finger in the early 70s.
So highly regarded is the Highlands layout, in 1976 it was the host venue of the U.S. Open., where the unlikely winner was rookie Jerry Pate, winning his only major championship. Other tournaments to have been hosted here include various PGA Championships, U.S. Amateur Championships and the Arnold Palmer Cup.
What is the best golf course in Atlanta?
The best golf course in Atlanta is the superb Peachtree Golf Club to the north of the city. It was designed in collaboration between Bobby Jones and Robert Trent Jones.