OCONEE COURSE AT REYNOLDS PLANTATION
Course Architect: Rees Jones (Greg Muirhead, co-designer)
Year Opened: 2002
Location: Greensboro, Georgia
Slope: 143. Rating: 75.5
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 5 579 Yds 10 - Par 5 595 Yds
2 - Par 4 419 Yds 11 - Par 4 421 Yds
3 - Par 4 438 Yds 12 - Par 4 380 Yds
4 - Par 4 385 Yds 13 - Par 3 260 Yds
5 - Par 3 188 Yds 14 - Par 4 467 Yds
6 - Par 4 372 Yds 15 - Par 3 192 Yds
7 - Par 5 520 Yds 16 - Par 4 447 Yds
8 - Par 3 218 Yds 17 - Par 5 567 Yds
9 - Par 4 460 Yds 18 - Par 4 485 Yds
Par 36 3,579 Yds Par 36 3,814 Yds
Key Events Held: PGA Cup (2007).
Awards Won: Ranked #4 - Best Public Access Courses (GA) - Golfweek (2005-06),
Rated #16 Best-in-State rankings (Georgia) - Golf Digest (2005),
America's Top-100 Residential Courses (78th) - Golfweek (2005),
America's Top-100 Resort Courses (46th) - Golfweek (2005),
Top-100 Public-Access Courses in US (67th) - Golf Magazine (2004),
#5 - 50 Best Courses for Women - Golf For Women Magazine (2003),
Best New Upscale Courses - Golf Digest (2003),
Top New Public-Access Golf Courses in US - Golf Magazine (2002).
Course Record: 62 (DeWitt Weaver).
HISTORY: Aptly named after the lake that Reynolds Plantation surrounds, The
Oconee (Oh-KONE-ee) course is the Creek Indian name for "Great Waters".
Ironically, one of the other courses at Reynolds is named Great Waters.
Following in the footsteps of Jack Nicklaus and Tom Fazio, who designed two of
the courses at Reynolds, Rees Jones was called upon to create a special
project. Nicknamed as the "Open Doctor" for his restorations work on some of
the most storied venues of all-time, such as Baltusrol, Hazeltine and
Congressional to name a few.
Jones did not disappoint with The Oconee, as he created a venue that supports
his traditional philosophy of golf architecture, featuring strategic design.
"We have uncovered a dramatic golf course without changing a lot of what we
found when we got here."
How good is The Oconee. Well, within one year of opening, the course was rated
as the fifth best course for women by Golf For Women Magazine. The honors
continue to come in, as Golfweek just recently named The Oconee as the fourth
best Public Access Course in Georgia.
Thought of so highly, that the PGA of America has named The Oconee as the host
venue for the 2007 PGA Cup. "We are very pleased that The Oconee Course at
Reynolds Plantation will serve as host of the next PGA Cup, and that it will
provide a championship setting that will be among the most memorable in the
history of this event," commented PGA of America President Roger Warren.
When all was said and done, Jones crafted a course that prominently displays
the lake, as it comes into play on five holes, features numerous creeks and
waterfalls and meticulous bunkering. "We work to create courses that are fair,
challenging, continually interesting to play, and visually exciting."
REVIEW: The course opens with a solid par five, stretching a whopping 579
yards from the tips. Play down the right side of the fairway, as your opening
shot will bound towards the left on the sloping fairway. Framed by mounding on
the right and a pair of traps left, the first landing area is quite generous,
so getting off to a good start should not be a chore. A decision needs to be
made with your second shot. Although down hill towards the green, water looms
down the left side from 90 yards out to the putting surface, culminating into
a beautiful waterfall. Going for it in two is pretty much out of the question,
so layup down the right, leaving yourself a simple wedge to a fairly benign
green. The putting surface bends around the water, making a left pin very
difficult. Don't get cute. Play out to the right and you'll make an easy par.
The first of seven par fours over 400 yards in length, the second is a modest
419 steps from the back tees. Bending slightly to the right and playing
downhill, your tee shot must avoid the large trap on the right. A short- to
medium-iron will remain to the slightly uphill and large putting surface,
fronted by a deep bunker on the left. The green slopes from back to front, so
remain below the hole for your best shot at birdie.
You'll get a real sense of what Rees Jones was trying to accomplish at The
Oconee when you stand on the third tee. A downhill, sweeping dogleg-left par
four, framed by trees, mounding and sand. Start your drive at the fairway
bunker and turn it right to left towards the center. This will set up a medium
iron to an elevated green that's 36 yards deep. Miss left and you'll end up in
a deep, cavernous bunker. Making par or birdie on any of the first three
holes, which rank as some of the toughest on the course, will set you apart
from your foursome.
The fourth hole is one of the simplest on the course. Straightaway and
downhill to the green, the key here is to drive in the fairway, leaving
yourself a short-iron to an accommodating green. Down the right off the tee is
the best play, as shots will kick towards the fairway. The putting surface is
less undulating than most, with a large bunker on the right and chipping area
back-left. A definite birdie chance, so take advantage.
One of many signature holes on The Oconee, the fifth is first par three on the
course and it's a gem. Several tee boxes give the player many options on this
downhill one-shotter. A pond and a wide trap front the green with a W-shaped
bunker deep. The putting surface is very shallow, making club selection all
important. With the wind in your face and a back-right flag, this could be a
Location, location, location. That's what the sixth hole is all about. Just
372 yards from the back tees, this dogleg right plays downhill off the tee.
The key ingredient is to avoid the fairway bunkers flanking each side of the
landing area. With that in mind, a hybrid or fairway-metal should be plenty to
dissect the landing zone. A short-iron awaits to a long, undulating green that
slopes from back to front. Leaving here with anything worse than a four will
The shortest of the four par five's at The Oconee, the seventh can be had,
well, that's what I thought. Playing downhill off the tee and then straight
uphill towards the green, the hole is beautifully framed inside the tall
stands of pine trees down both sides. Another generous fairway will set up an
attempt to get home in two, however add a couple of clubs to your shot, as it
plays 20 yards longer. Two enormous bunkers guard both sides of the putting
surface, that falls hard to the front. It should be an easy birdie hole, but I
made seven from the left trap, so beware.
Another great par three, the eighth can stretch to 218 yards or play as little
as 127. The green sits well below the tee box, so club selection is very
difficult, especially since the green is 40 paces deep. Sand occupies most of
the left side, so bail right if you're going err. Trees stand tall behind the
green, making for an appealing setting.
Grip it and rip it. That should be your motto when standing on the long, par-
four ninth. Your first real view of Lake Oconee is quite daunting as you stand
on the tee, not to mention the stiff breeze coming off the water into your
face. A 200-yard blast is needed just to reach the fairway on this 460-yard
monster. The Lake runs down the entire right side of the hole and most
certainly comes into play with your approach. A mid- to long-iron will be
required to reach the putting surface that juts out towards the water. Sand
fronts the fairly long green, so play left if in doubt and rely on your short
game to make par. I did.
The back nine begins with a massive par five stretching a whopping 595 yards,
easily the longest hole on the course. A very generous fairway, just stay
clear of the 40-yard long trap down the right landing area. No problems in
laying up, as the short grass is wide open. Your approach plays downhill to a
sloping green that's fronted on the right by a large bunker. A shaved chipping
area surrounds the remaining portions of the green, so club selection is key
in attacking for birdie.
A sweeping dogleg-right par four, the 11th is framed by trees down both sides
and a fairway bunker on the left. Playing downhill off the tee, a down the
right blast can leave just a short-iron to the elevated putting surface. The
green is only 31 paces deep, but is quite slick from back to front. The real
danger lies in the bottomless bunker guarding the left-front. Stay below the
hole for any chance at three, let alone four.
Another favorite hole at The Oconee is the par-four 12th. Just 380 yards from
the tips, the sensational dogleg-right, uphill gem features a babbling brook
running down the entire right side of the hole. Sand frames the left landing
area as you head towards the green. The putting surface is well above the
fairway, so take an extra club or two to be safe. Short and right is wet, so
bail right if you must. On paper it's a birdie chance, but in reality, it's
ranked the second handicapped hole.
It's hard to enjoy a par three that's 260 yards long, but the 13th is awesome.
At least in beauty that is. With eight different tee boxes, this hole has
plenty of options. Downhill to the green, your first shot must clear the lone
trap that fronts the green. This trap however can encompass small cities, as
it begins 100 yards short of the putting surface. This deep abyss can ruin a
round, so lock and load. The green is long from back to front and quite quick.
It comes as no surprise that it's one of the four hardest holes on the back
The 14th is a downhill, dogleg-right monster of a par four, stretching 467
yards from the back buttons. The object on this brute is to bypass the series
of traps down the right side of the fairway. Play down the left, as all tee
shots will move towards the right. A medium-iron will remain to a fairly
shallow green with one deep trap, front-left. Tall pines make for a beautiful
backdrop on the second-longest par four on the course. Birdies will be scarce
and bogeys plentiful.
Playing directly over a finger of water from Lake Oconee, the par-three 15th
can certainly be construed as one of the signature holes on the course. When
the breezes freshen from the lake, this one-shotter can be quite a handful.
Just under 200 yards, a long-iron will be required just to reach the slightly,
elevated putting surface. A wide bunker splashes in front of the green, making
your tee shot even more difficult. The putting surface is only 30 paces in
length and fairly benign. A back-left pin could make for one of the most
difficult pars on the course.
A cascading waterfall and a creek run down the left from the green and past
the tee box into Lake Oconee, that's what awaits on the 16th. This time its a
dogleg left, uphill par four of 447 yards in length. A wide, rolling
fairway awaits your drive, but make sure you take an extra stick for your
approach shot, as the water crosses directly in front of the putting surface,
one of the tightest on the course. Just 10 paces deep, the green is two-tiered
and very fast. This is not a hole to become aggressive, especially with a
A real good chance of getting one back, the 17th is a long, straightaway par
five. Off the tee, the key is missing the fairway traps on either side of the
landing area. Your second, which plays downhill towards the green, should be
played out to the left, avoiding the 55-yard bunker on the right. Although
Lake Oconee provides a wonderful backdrop, the water should not come into
play. The putting surface is not tricky, unless of course you land in the
greenside traps and need to get up and down to save par.
It's hard to believe that the final hole, the longest par four on the course,
is rated as the 16th easiest on the scorecard. Trust me, it is not. Start with
a drive over water that must carry over 200 yards to reach the fairway. A big
sweeping draw is the play on this dogleg left, as you aim for the pair of
traps in the distance. Now you're left with a 200-yard plus poke to one of the
biggest greens on the course, with sand left and right and water, yes, Lake
Oconee, behind the surface. So the bottom line is, a 485-yard par four,
doglegging to the left, water left and long, sand guarding the green and a 41-
yard long, diamond-shaped putting surface. Write to me if you make par.
OVERALL: There are many words and thoughts that come to mind when talking
about The Oconee course at Reynolds Plantation. Player friendly, fair, rock
solid and a challenge. But the words that best describe this course are
majestic, breathtaking and sensational.
If someone put a gun to my head and made me pick my favorite course at
Reynolds Plantation, I'd be hard-pressed not to say The Oconee. All the tracks
at Reynolds have something special, but The Oconee is for everyone.
Multiple tee boxes, ranging from 5,100 to over 7,300 yards. Generous fairways,
beautiful scenery, undulating putting surfaces, plenty of hazards, a challenge
for all levels. Upon completion of the course, Jones commented, "I feel the
course we've created is playable for both the scratch player and regular
Let's not forget the spectacular conditioning of the golf course, the enormous
practice facility, a grandiose clubhouse, thoughtful staff and it's within
walking distance from the Ritz-Carlton Lodge to boot. Beauty and imagination
along with lush, rolling carpets, tremendous pines, dogwoods, oaks, magnolias
and cherry trees lining all fairways.
After playing all of the venues at Reynolds Plantation, and loving every
minute of it, I'll always come back to The Oconee.