An introduction to Columbus
In this blog, we explore the best golf courses in Columbus, Georgia. This is a city which flies under the radar, resembling most other cities in Georgia. But Columbus has so much to offer the visiting golfer.
Sitting on the Chattahoochee River, this vibrant city is considered one of the most entertaining cities in Georgia. There are a myriad of choices to keep you entertained and these vary from cultural to outdoors activities.
On the cultural side, you have to start with the Coca Cola Space Science Center. This fascinating attraction has the largest collection of NASA Space Shuttle artifacts in Georgia.
Similarly, the impressive Columbus Museum is the second largest museum in the southeastern area. You’ll be blown away by its exhibits on American art and history.
From an outdoors perspective, and closest to town, is the Chattahoochee River Walk. Granted, maybe not the most tempting if you’ve been playing golf all morning. But relaxing nonetheless as its green spaces stretch for miles alongside the river.
And if you really want to try something different, venture no further from the river as it involves whitewater rafting. The Chattahoochee River has the longest whitewater rafting experience in the world. Yes you heard that, in the world!
But now let’s jump into the golf courses near Columbus, Georgia.
The best golf courses in Columbus, Georgia
Green Island Country Club
We kick off our list of the best golf courses in Columbus, Georgia, with the sensational Green Island Country Club.
The club occupies a scenic plot of land just to the north of the city, a fifteen minute drive to downtown. You’re literally a stone’s throw away from Lake Oliver, part of the larger snaking Chattahoochee River.
The creative spark behind Green Island is intriguing. In the late 1950s there was a proposal to build a hydroelectric dam in the Chattahoochee River. The final product is just a few miles downstream towards the city.
Savvy entities realized the dam would create a lake and understood the opportunity to develop this area into an upmarket shoreline community. It was this idea which led to the creation of the upmarket Green Island Hills community. And subsequently the Green Island Country Club.
The club is renowned for being family oriented and prides itself on the range of amenities it offers to its membership. Racquets, a large pool area, the latest gym equipment and top class dining facilities.
But central to it all is the 18-hole championship course designed by George Cobb. Although Cobb designed well over a hundred courses throughout his career, he’s most known for the par 3 course at Augusta National Golf Club.
The course lies some 500 feet above sea-level and is immensely beautiful. It opened in 1961 and is set across the rolling hills for which the area is known. Elevation changes are a prominent feature and challenge!
Although just 6,512 yards from the back tees, the course is challenging enough. Alongside the constant elevation changes, mature pine trees line fairways placing an emphasis on accurate ball striking.
From 1970 to 1990, Green Island hosted the Southern Open, playing host to many of the game’s greatest golfers. Yet to play here, you’ll have to befriend a member.
Country Club of Columbus
Right in the heart of the city, just to the east of downtown, is the traditional Country Club of Columbus. This fine establishment has been part of the fabric of Columbus since 1909.
Similarly to Green Island, the club has a large and engaged membership. And to keep said membership contented, there is a whole range of amenities to enjoy. A modern gym, swimming pool, tennis and racquetball courts…you name it.
In the early years, the Country Club of Columbus featured a rather rudimentary layout. It was some thirteen years later in 1922, that the course we know today was created.
And who to call on for the design, but the great Donald Ross. Ross was without doubt one of the finest architects of the era and getting his talents was a huge feat.
The routing Ross designed stretches to 6,515 yards from the back pins. There is a good variety of holes, some with long narrow fairways and others more forgiving. Greens are small and well defended by bunkers. Whilst water also comes into play on a handful of occasions.
Over the years, the course has gained a reputation for having some of the finest greens in the Southeast. It is also renowned for its first class conditioning.
With the Country Club of Columbus being a private members club, only member’s guests can play here.
Public Golf Courses in Columbus, Georgia
Lakewood Golf Course
Officially in Alabama, Lakewood Golf Course is to the west of the city, across the Chattahoochee River. Despite being in another state, the course is just a ten minute drive into town.
Phenix City, within which the club is located, owns and manages the club. This makes it the closest municipally owned golf course to central Columbus.
The course was designed by Ron Garl and John LaFoy, opening for play in 1962.
As far as municipal golf courses go, Lakewood is surprisingly well kept. Particularly the greens which are generally in great shape and feature Champion Bermuda Grass.
As the holes get further away from the clubhouse, there are some steep inclines as the course climbs into the hills. Getting your choice of club right is critical to scoring well on these holes. Fortunately though, a nice upside is the terrific views which can be enjoyed.
A couple of creeks meander through the site whilst a sizable lake comes into play on a few holes.
Measuring just under 6,500 yards, Lakewood Golf Course is perfect for all levels of golfer. It is also incredible value with green fees starting around the $10 mark.
Maple Ridge Golf Club
Up towards Northside, the other side of Interstate 185, is Maple Ridge Golf Club.
This is a beautiful site, littered with elegant pines and numerous upscale homes. And it is across this undulating topography that Maple Ridge was routed back in 1987.
The course was co-designed by Larry Mize, winner of the 1987 Masters Tournament and Mike Young. Mize has only been involved in two course creations, with both being surprisingly good.
For starters, Maple Ridge is consistently voted as one of the best golf courses in Columbus.
This may be in some part due to the fact it has a nice balance of tricky holes and easier ones. In turn this ensures all ranges of ability can enjoy it.
Elevation changes are a constant, which will challenge anyone playing here. But this is also great fun and keeps things interesting.
The club considers itself the Chattahoochee Valley’s ‘friendliest and most affordable semi-private golf club’. I can attest it is both, especially with walking green fees during midweek starting for under $35.
Bull Creek Golf Course
Still yet further out of the city heading eastwards, is the top class facility of Bull Creek Golf Course. This wonderful club is approximately a twenty to twenty five minute drive from downtown.
There are two superb courses at Bull Creek, both open to the public.
Named the East Course and West Course, both opened for play in 1972 and were designed by Wade Northrup. On the West course project, he was ably assisted by Joe Lee, who has an impressive resumé himself.
This vast site is literally a forest of dense trees and undergrowth. It really feels like you are a million miles away from city life with absolutely no residential buildings visible. This is golf and nature, quite simple.
Bull Creek, from where the club derives its name, creeps menacingly into the site from the north, finally emerging into Bull Creek Lake. Both the creek and lake have been adapted into the design, with a number of holes requiring you to avoid the wet stuff.
Likewise, avoiding the trees is a constant battle. Especially where there are narrow fairways or one of the many doglegs.This really is fun golf and there is such a variety of shots to be played.
Understandably, this is in large part why Golf Digest rated Bull Creek Golf Course as one of the Top 25 Public Golf Courses in America. Make sure you come with your A-game though, as both courses will test the best out there.
Fort Benning Golf Course
Last on our list of golf courses around Columbus is Fort Benning Golf Course. This is a military owned establishment to the south of the city.
For a number of years there were three loops of nine holes, each named after a famous general. There was The Bradley, The Marshall and The Patton.
Unfortunately, at the time of writing, the last of those which only opened in 2007, The Patton, was closed indefinitely. Various reasons were mentioned, but primarily this was the amount of maintenance required and some underground springs causing havoc.
Of the two remaining, both are open to the public. Impressively, the Bradley nine was designed by the great Robert Trent Jones Sr. It opened for play in 1950, ten years before the second nine The Marshall. These nine holes were designed by the relatively unknown Lester Lawrence.