THE NATIONAL AT REYNOLDS PLANTATION
Course Architect: Tom Fazio
Year Opened: 1997 (Bluff, Ridge nines), 2000 (Cove nine)
Location: Greensboro, Georgia
Slopes: 137 (Bluff), 137 (Cove), 138 (Ridge).
Ratings: 73.4 (Bluff), 73.8 (Cove), 73.6 (Ridge).
Nines: BLUFF NINE COVE NINE RIDGE NINE
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 4 383 Yds 1 - Par 4 418 Yds 1 - Par 4 390 Yds
2 - Par 4 409 Yds 2 - Par 4 378 Yds 2 - Par 4 388 Yds
3 - Par 5 553 Yds 3 - Par 3 191 Yds 3 - Par 3 192 Yds
4 - Par 3 174 Yds 4 - Par 5 563 Yds 4 - Par 4 428 Yds
5 - Par 4 386 Yds 5 - Par 4 400 Yds 5 - Par 3 206 Yds
6 - Par 5 584 Yds 6 - Par 5 502 Yds 6 - Par 5 554 Yds
7 - Par 3 216 Yds 7 - Par 3 175 Yds 7 - Par 4 376 Yds
8 - Par 4 400 Yds 8 - Par 4 449 Yds 8 - Par 5 499 Yds
9 - Par 4 423 Yds 9 - Par 4 462 Yds 9 - Par 4 454 Yds
Par 36 3,528 Yds Par 36 3,538 Yds Par 36 3,487 Yds
Awards Won: Ranked #19 Best-in-State Rankings (GA) by Golf Digest (2005),
Ranked #5 America's Best State-by-State (GA) by Golfweek (2006),
Rated 4 1/2 stars by Golf Digest - Best Places to Play (2006).
Course Record: 64 (Bluff, Ridge nines).
HISTORY: Back in the early 1900s, Mercer Reynolds, Sr. purchased the land in
Greene County for a family retreat. Reynolds you see, was a successful
businessman, not to mention the inventor of the process for solidifying
cottonseed oil. In other words, wealth beyond means. Referred to as "Linger
Longer," this massive piece of property was used for a hunting and fishing
During the 1920s, the family house was built, which lasted until 1979, when
the construction of the Wallace Dam was finished. This, with the flooding of
the Oconee River, formed Lake Oconee, Georgia's second largest lake.
The vision for Reynolds Plantation goes to the grandson of Reynolds Sr.,
Mercer Reynolds III. With a 19,000-acre lake and 70 miles of shoreline
available, the plan was in the works to develop a resort/residential
community. Beginning in 1986, five golf courses have been built on this site,
including The National Course, featuring three nine-hole courses.
Master course designer Tom Fazio got the call to carve out this venue through
undisturbed forests and beautiful vistas of the Oconee River Valley.
He's designed several of the greatest courses in the country and worked on
some of the finest pieces of land, but when Fazio toured the property, he was
stunned. "When I first came here and drove through the front gate, I could
feel the quality that was here."
One of the most decorated architects of his time, Fazio has crafted well over
120 courses and currently has more courses ranked in the top-100 in the United
States (14), than any other designer. Some of his most notable layouts
include, Wade Hampton, Shadow Creek, The Quarry at La Quinta and The Estancia
Club. And by the way, he is the chief design consultant for Augusta National
Fazio's effort was enhanced by the unlimited budget afforded him by his
employer. "I got excited because, from the first calls about this course, I
was told they had a lot of land, lots of acres and no preconceived ideas about
what should go there. I knew from the first day that the commitment made to
golf was first-class and something I wanted to be involved with."
How good was Fazio's design? Well in less than 10 years, it has been ranked in
the top-five in the state of Georgia for public access courses.
REVIEW: The Bluff nine opens with a slight dogleg right, uphill par four.
Plenty of room off the tee, so bombs away, as it plays longer than its 383
yards in length indicates. Fairway traps on the right can be reached, so play
towards the left side of the landing area. Take an extra club or two for your
approach to the elevated putting surface and stay below the hole, as the green
slopes hard from back to front. With only 31 paces to deal with and a deep
trap right, this is certainly not a hole to be taken lightly.
The downhill, dogleg right second is just the opposite, sloping down towards
Lake Oconee. The key is the tee shot, as you must avoid the pair of extremely
deep bunkers on the right. A mid to short iron remains to a fairly large
green. A back-right flag will bring another deep-faced bunker into play, so
play towards the center of the surface to take bogey or worse out of play.
At first blush, the par-five third could be construed as one of the hardest
holes on the course at 553 yards. Don't be misled, this big boy can be had.
Although doglegging sharply to the right, the tee shot is wide open, as it is
devoid of sand with a enormous landing area. The trick is deciding what to do
for your second shot. Laying up can be tricky, especially with the pair of
traps down the left and a sloping fairway to the right, which brings the lake
into play. The fairway does narrow as you get closer to the green, however, a
blast down the left side will feed towards the promised land. The putting
surface is a whopping 47 yards deep, but very narrow. When in doubt, go left
young man and you'll make an easy par.
One of my favorite par threes at Reynolds Plantation, the fourth is a gem
featuring Lake Oconee down the entire right side. Any breeze off the water
will surely impact how you play this hole. Another enormous green, this time
40 yards in length, will dictate what club you pull out of your arsenal. A
huge ridge runs through the center of the putting surface, with three traps,
one left and two deep to gather your errant play.
A chance to get one back as you reach the fifth. Just 386 yards in length from
the gold tees, the key ingredient here is the tee ball. The first of five
fairway traps looms down the right side, but a shot of 230 yards will clear
easily enough. Avoiding the left trio of bunkers is a different story, as they
are well within reach. The play on this bender to the right is a nice power-
fade, leaving just a short iron approach to another, slender, but long green.
Your second will be slightly uphill to the putting surface, with a bunker left
and right. A back-right pin could be hard to reach, so play center cut and
The Bluff nine really heats up on the devilish, par-five sixth. Only the
strongest of players can best this beast at 584 yards. The tee shot plays
uphill to a wide fairway, flanked left by sand and right by trees and thick
brush. A big blast can reach the crest of the fairway, as it begins to slope
downhill. A decision of major proportion remains. Go for the green or play out
right to the split fairway. Option one - A large pond stands between you and
the green, not to mention some 250 plus yards. Yes, it's downhill, but the
green is set back to the left with three huge traps deep and one state of
Florida- shaped bunker in front. A word of caution, any shot short of the
putting surface, will roll back towards the water and leave an awkward, uphill
pitch to the green. Option two - A medium iron or hybrid to the right will set
up a little wedge for your third. This will enable you to attack the pin and
give yourself a reasonable chance at birdie. Certainly the smarter play, but
who said golfers are smart.
Another great par three, the seventh is the longest of the set at The
National. Coming in at 216 yards, the hole plays downhill to the green, making
club selection difficult, not to mention the creek running from tee through
the putting surface down the right. Let's not forget the very wide and
undulating green, with sand left and two bunkers on the back-right corner. The
hole is framed beautifully behind the green and is one of the most picturesque
on the course. Stay focused.
The course continues to get better and better as you reach the rugged, par-
four eighth. The fairway slopes from right to left with a creek running up the
left side before crossing the landing area, some 100 yards short of the green.
The play off the tee is a draw with a driver, starting at the fairway trap and
finishing in the left side of the landing area. This will set up a short iron
approach to a slightly uphill putting surface. Two spots to avoid. The pair of
bunkers left and the creek that runs up the right side within a couple of
strides of the green. The short stuff is long and narrow, sloping from back to
front with an undulating ridge in the center. A back-right flag will test the
best of players, not to mention us hackers.
The closing hole on the Bluff nine is a sharp, dogleg right par four
stretching 423 yards from the back tees. The tee ball is first step to
succeeding on the ninth. The fairway slopes from left to right with two deep
traps left and one target bunker towards the center of the fairway. It will
take a shot of 250 yards to clear this obstacle, but you will be rewarded with
a short iron if you play down the right. Next up is your downhill approach to
the green. With a seven-, eight- or nine-iron, you'll need to clear a large
body of water and a wide bunker to reach the putting surface. The green is 42
yards wide and quite shallow, so club selection is key, as any shot long will
Moving over to the Cove nine, the newest of the three courses, it starts out
with a solid, downhill par four of 418 yards. Two wide bunkers frame the wide
landing area and offer a great target to start your draw. One word of caution,
avoid the left side, as the fairway falls off into deep trees. A medium to
short iron remains to a decent sized green with a deep trap near the left-
front portion. A fairly simple hole to kick-start the nine.
It's uphill all the way on the short second, the only par four on this nine
under 400 yards. Bunkers on either side of the landing area pose minimal
opposition, but are deep and treacherous. Take an extra club for your
approach, as the green is significantly elevated. Two very cavernous traps
front the benign putting surface which flows gently from back to front.
Birdies can be made, but without seeing the bottom of the flag stick, par is
more likely. By the way, any second shot played short and right, will roll
back off the green and down the fairway.
Downhill towards Lake Oconee, the par-three third is all about club selection.
With the wind blowing in off the water and the elevation change, this hole
could play havoc with your round. A deep trap fronts the green that's only 33
paces in length. Not a hole to be aggressive, play to the center and make your
The longest of the two par fives on this nine, the fourth is a strategically,
deceptive three-shotter. The hole starts out by bending towards the right,
with a 40-yard long bunker down the right side of the landing area. Avoid this
and you're home free, sort of. Your next shot is a layup far enough down the
right to leave a clear shot to the green, as tall trees blanket the left side.
The putting surface you see, is to the left of the fairway and plays uphill
over a creek. Two deep bunkers guard the left-portion of the green. Although
very wide, the putting surface is only 28 paces deep and just 20 yards in
length behind the traps. Sloping hard from back to front, you must stay below
the hole to have any chance at two-putting.
Bending to the left, the par-four fifth is devoid of fairway bunkers, but
beware of the port side as trees guard the aggressive player. After a
successful tee shot, just a medium iron should remain, depending upon the flag
stick. You see, the green is a whopping 49 yards in length and quite narrow,
not to mention a deep bunker up front. The putting surface is very undulating
and if missed, could be a real bear to get up and down, as it falls off
sharply left and long.
Although ranked as the toughest hole on this nine, the sixth can be had. Just
a 502-yard par five, this gem doglegs to the left and can be reached in two.
The tee shot plays downhill towards a left to right sloped fairway. The bunker
at the end of the fairway is close to 300 yards away from the tips. Now it's
decision time. To reach the elevated green, you'll need a blast of over 200
yards, splitting the tall trees on both sides of the fairway and avoiding the
pair of traps to the right of the green. Speaking of the putting surface, it's
41 paces deep and very undulating. Par shouldn't be a problem, so go for it
and get one back.
The final par three on this nine is the shortest of all the one-shotter's at
The National. Just 175 yards from the tips and playing downhill, this beauty
requires pinpoint accuracy, as the green is small and the wind usually plays
tricks from the tee. Any shot right or long will trickle down the slope. Short
and you'll find sand and left, a well-mown collection area. The bottom line,
short is not always easy.
The eighth is a stern test of brawn and brains. The elevated tee box puts
everything in plain view. What you have is a dogleg right of 449 yards that
necessitates a left-to-right fade off the box. Avoiding the fairway trap at
the corner of the bend is key. A big blast of over 270 yards can clear the
corner, but jail remains if your shot is offline. A mid to long iron will
remain to a slightly elevated surface, trapped deeply on both sides of the
green. Another long, narrow green, this one 42 yards in depth, features a
ridge on the right, making your approach even more difficult. Par here will be
a tall order.
Another great closer at The National, the ninth is the longest par four at
this venue, a whopping 462 yards from the tips. You'll need every bit of power
just to leave yourself a reasonable chance at getting home. Despite a wide
landing area, the hole is wide open and susceptible to the wind. From the
fairway, all that remains is quite clear, a pond and two bunkers fronting the
green. Piece of cake, right? Not so fast when you have a hybrid or long iron
in your grasp. Closely cropped chipping areas surround the green, so if you're
going to err, go long.
The original hole of the National course is the first on the Ridge nine. A
rock-solid, dogleg left par four, the first requires just a fairway metal off
the tee, as the trouble lurks well down the fairway in the form of sand on
both sides of the landing area. Bunkers surround three sides of the putting
surface, leaving an opening in front for your approach. Despite the swale in
the green, this is one pin you should be able to attack and get your nine off
to a good start.
Although not long by today's standards at 388 yards, the second hole is every
bit of a bear to make par, let alone birdie. The landing area is quite wide,
however you must play down the left side to set up the best angle to the
green. The putting surface is tucked to the right, behind a set of bunkers,
water and a tall tree that covers the right portion of the green. Having a
shot at birdie will depend upon the pin placement.
The slightly uphill third is one of the longest par threes on the course at
just under 200 yards in length. To compound matters, the putting surface is 39
paces deep. Three treacherous traps guard the right side of the green and a
collection area protects the right. Choose the right stick or suffer the
What you see is what you get, as you stand on the fourth tee. A straightaway
par four reaching 428 yards from the tips. A wide landing area, narrowed at
the 270-yard mark by two deep fairway bunkers on the right. The slightly
elevated putting surface is fairly benign, but protected on either side by
deep traps and grass bunkers.
The fifth, the final par three on this nine will require a long iron or hybrid
to reach the putting surface. Danger looms left with a bunker long enough to
cover the entire 37 paces of the green. Any ball slightly right of target will
end up in the closely mown chipping area, which will make an up and down
One of the prettiest and diabolical holes at The National, the sixth is an
outstanding, downhill par five, a true, three-shot hole. From the tips, the
landing area runs out at the 300-yard mark, with fairway traps pinching in
from both sides. A small stream down the right can snare any wayward shot, so
play left fairway for safety. The only option for your next is to layup, the
question is, how far do you go. The landing area tightens as you get closer to
the green and a trap on either side at the 125-yard mark makes for an even
narrower look. By the way, water comes into play around 80 yards from the
green, as it surrounds three-quarters of the putting surface. The green is
well-guarded in the front by sand and features three tiers to make your birdie
try even more difficult. It stands to reason that this is the number one
handicapped hole on the Ridge.
The shortest par four at The National, the seventh is only 376 yards from the
gold tees. Doglegging to the left, the key is accuracy, not length to conquer
this hole. A fairway-metal off the tee is the smart play for your first shot,
as this will set up a short iron to a long, narrow putting surface. Missing
the two-tiered green will be costly, as three traps encompass the short grass.
A great scoring chance revolves around the dogleg left eighth. A short par
five that measures just 499 yards from the tips, this hole can be had if the
tee shot is right. Playing downhill from the tee, a high, draw will work
wonders to set up an opportunity to get home in two. The key is to avoid the
bunker-laden landing area. If successful, you'll need a 200-plus blast to
reach the long, narrow promised land. The green is guarded with a long trap in
front and one left and the putting surface itself, is two-tiered and 40 paces
deep. The bottom line, you can go for it, but you must be precise.
The closing hole on the Ridge is a monster of a par four, stretching 454
yards. Despite the wide landing area, this straightaway hole features a 42-
yard long bunker down the left side, so stay clear. A long iron or hybrid will
remain to a long green, guarded by sand left and right. A back-right flag,
where the putting surface slopes away make the hole one of the hardest at The
OVERALL: The golf at Reynolds Plantation is exceptional and that includes Tom
Fazio's, The National. Three nine hole venues, all with their own specific
signature. Whether it be rolling terrain or lush hardwood forests and
spectacular views of Lake Oconee, The National has it all.
The nines feature amazing elevation changes, numerous streams, ponds and of
course Lake Oconee, not to mention 115 bunkers, the most of any of the courses
at Reynolds Plantation.
Let's not forget the challenging and undulating putting surfaces, which
generally range from 30-45 yards in depth and can be a slick as Augusta on any
Course conditioning is always an important part of any review and The National
passes with flying colors. Bent grass greens and Bermuda fairways, tees and
rough are impeccably manicured. Fazio's signature bunkers are also maintained
to perfection. Even the practice range, complete with grass hitting areas on
two sides and putting and chipping greens are groomed wonderfully.
They say that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but no one can deny the
sensational landscape of colors generated by thousands of azaleas, deep
Georgia pines and glowing vegetation. Upon completion, Fazio praised the
design. "It's no surprise that the National turned out as well as it did
because the Reynolds folks have the patience and commitment to do things
The course is open to members, guests and residents of the Ritz-Carlton Lodge
and Reynolds Plantation. For guests, it could be a bit pricey at $150-$250,
but if you're at the Ritz, then this shouldn't be an issue. Take advantage of
the special packages that are available and you'll make Reynolds Plantation an
annual visit for years to come.
I'd be remiss without mentioning the kind and thoughtful staff at The
National, who go out of their way to make your stay most enjoyable.
The bottom line, The National will rank right up there with all the courses at
Reynolds Plantation, so when planning your next trip, make sure you reserve
ample time so that you can sample all the courses at Reynolds Plantation, you
won't be disappointed.