The best golf courses in Georgia (2024)

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Best in State

By Derek Duncan and Stephen Hennessey

July 10, 2023

An interesting battle is being waged for the No. 2 position in the Georgia state ranking (we don't anticipate Augusta National being moved off the top spot anytime soon). Two years ago, Ohoopee Match Club, a 2018 Gil Hanse/Jim Wagner design in the scrubby south-central part of the state, didn't have enough ballots to qualify for the America's 100 Greatest Courses ranking (it now does, and is listed at No. 34). It did, however, have enough to qualify for Best in State, and its scores placed it second, ahead of perennial runner up Peachtree Golf Club, the great Robert Trent Jones/Bobby Jones collaboration in Atlanta. This year, Peachtree turned the table and scored higher, so it's back in the second spot, though their scores are just .74 apart—which is a miniscule difference across our six scoring categories.

Change could be coming elsewhere, too. As is true across the country, Georgia is a hotspot for renovation. Seven of the top 20 courses have already begun or will begin renovations in 2023, including top-10 fixtures East Lake, Ocean Forest and Atlanta Country Club. That doesn't count the annual modifications to Augusta National, including the lengthening of the 13th hole for the 2023 Masters and the alterations to 11 and 15 for the 2022 tournament. Of course, those changes, some significant, don't seem to impact the Augusta National's scores, which doesn't seem possible. Perhaps getting the once-in-a-lifetime invitation to play the course temporarily suspends one's ability to critique change.

Below you'll find our 2023-'24 ranking of the Best Golf Courses in Georgia. If you're interested in the best public options, check out our collection of the best courses you can play in Georgia.

We urge you to click through to each individual course page for bonus photography, drone footage and reviews from our course panelists. Plus, you can now leave your own ratings on the courses you’ve played … to make your case why your favorite should be ranked higher.

The best golf courses in Georgia (3)

Private

1. (1) Augusta National Golf Club
Augusta, GA, United States

5

94 Panelists

  • 100 Greatest
  • Best In State

No club has tinkered with its golf course as often or as effectively over the decades as has Augusta National Golf Club, mainly to keep it competitive for the annual Masters Tournament, an event it has conducted since 1934, with time off during WWII. All that tinkering has resulted in an amalgamation of design ideas, with a routing by Alister Mackenzie and Bobby Jones, some Perry Maxwell greens, some Trent Jones water hazards, some Jack Nicklaus mounds and swales and, most recently, extensive rebunkering and tree planting by Tom Fazio. The tinkering continues, including the lengthening of the par-4 fifth in the summer of 2018, the lengthening of the 11th and 15th holes in 2022, and the addition of 35 yards to the famed par-5 13th in 2023.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (4)

Private

2. (3) Peachtree Golf Club
Atlanta, GA, United States

The design collaboration by amateur star Bobby Jones and golf architect Robert Trent Jones (no relation) was meant to recapture the magic that the Grand Slam winner had experienced when he teamed with Alister Mackenzie in the design of Augusta National. But Trent was an even more forceful personality than the flamboyant Mackenzie, so Peachtree reflects far more of Trent’s notions of golf than Bobby’s, particularly in designing for future equipment advances. When it opened, Peachtree measured in excess of 7,200 yards, extremely long for that era. It boasted the longest set of tees in America (to provide flexibility on holes) and the country’s most enormous greens (to spread out wear and tear). As it turns out, Trent was a visionary, and decades later other designers followed his lead to address advances in club and ball technology.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (5)

Private

3. (2) Ohoopee Match Club
Cobbtown, GA, United States

4.8

84 Panelists

  • 100 Greatest
  • Best In State

From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten:

I’ve been told Gil Hanse had first examined the site of Ohoopee Match Club as far back as 2006 considered it ideal for golf: gently rolling terrain with no severe elevation changes, and beautiful sandy soil deposited by the nearby Ohoopee River, perfect for drainage and firm, fast conditions.

The ground around tiny Cobbtown, Ga., is also perfect for growing onions—it’s just northeast of Vidalia, world-famous for the Vidalia onion. Indeed, Ohoopee’s logo is a freshly picked onion, although if you look closely, its roots are three writhing snakes.

Any symbolism pertaining to match play is uncertain; perhaps it simply suggests the sort of putts one will face. What’s the composition of a course meant for match play? One might think it would contain lots of penal hazards, because a triple bogey on any particular hole would not be fatal in match play.

Perhaps the targets would be smaller than normal, to level the playing field between big hitters and short-but-accurate golfers. That’s not the composition of the 7,325-yard championship course at Ohoopee. Hanse did produce dramatic visuals in this sandy locale that hark back to portions of Pinehurst and Pine Valley, from long expanses of sandy rough dotted with native plants to deep, foreboding pits of sand, but they’re mostly on the far perimeter of holes.

Explore our complete review here—including bonus photography and ratings from our expert panelists.

Explore our full review

The best golf courses in Georgia (6)

Private

4. (5) Atlanta Athletic Club: Highlands
Johns Creek, GA, United States

4.4

131 Panelists

  • Second 100 Greatest
  • Best In State

No course on our rankings has highlighted the value of new turfgrasses better than the Highlands Course at Atlanta Athletic Club. It sets the standards for quality everyday conditions as well as for major championships at Southern venues. Its tees and fairways are newly-developed Zorro Zoysia, which can withstand Atlanta’s coldest winter days. Greens are state-of-the-art TifEagle Bermuda, smooth and pure. Approaches and surrounds of greens are TifGrand Bermuda, which allows them to be mowed very tight for additional bounce. The rough is Tifway 419 Bermuda, a great old standby. The club also recently upgraded its irrigation system. Because each turf has different water demands, a precise individual-head system was installed, each head controlled by the superintendent with a smart phone app, applying moisture only where needed and thus saving water and money. No longer will an errant shot at AAC land behind an irrigation box. There are none anymore.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (7)

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5. (4) East Lake Golf Club
Atlanta, GA, United States

3.9

167 Panelists

  • Second 100 Greatest
  • Best In State

Tom Bendelow actually laid out the original course at East Lake, back when it was known as Atlanta Athletic Club, and that was the layout upon which Stewart Maiden taught the game to the now-legendary Bobby Jones. Donald Ross basically built a new course on the same spot in 1915, which remained untouched until changes were made before the 1963 Ryder Cup. When Atlanta Athletic moved to the suburbs in the late 1960s, the intown East Lake location fell on hard financial times until being rescued in the 1990s by businessman Tom Cousins, who made it a sterling fusion of corporate and inner-city involvement. Rees Jones redesigned most holes beginning in the mid-90s, making the course more reflective of his views of championship golf. After the PGA Tour reversed the nines for the 2016 Tour Championship (flipping the unpopular par-3 finish into the ninth hole), the club made the new routing permanent for regular play. East Lake will undergo another major renovation following the 2023 Tour Championship, this time by Andrew Green, whowill highlight the Donald Ross heritage.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (8)

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6. (6) Ocean Forest Golf Club
Sea Island, GA, United States

4.3

120 Panelists

  • Second 100 Greatest
  • Best In State

Twenty-some years ago Rees Jones might have completed America’s last true oceanside links at Ocean Forest. It’s certainly one of the premier linksland settings in the country, far more authentic in its links characteristics than his Haig Point or Atlantic G.C., despite some holes in woodlands. Ocean Forest’s fairways laterally traverse several rumples of dunes, some 18 feet high, through a pine-covered delta formed where the Hampton River flows into the Atlantic. The routing skirts saltwater marsh, the river’s edge and finishes with a one-two punch on the seashore. This may be the most walkable course among all those nationally ranked, despite the fact that the 18th hole finishes a half mile from the clubhouse. Here’s an obscure piece of trivia: The day Ocean Forest opened in 1995, O.J. Simpson was acquitted of all murder charges against him. Architect Beau Welling is now working with the club and is performing a remodel of the course in 2023. Standy by to see how these changes impact Ocean Forest's state and national ranking.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (9)

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7. (7) Sea Island: Seaside
Saint Simons Island, GA, United States

4.2

197 Panelists

  • 100 Greatest Public
  • Best In State

The Sea Island resort continues to credit famed British golf architect H.S. Colt for its Seaside design, but in truth it was never purely Colt's design. It was the work of Colt's partner, Charles Alison, who traveled to the U.S. and beyond in the 1920s and 30s while Colt remainied in England. But the Seaside Course isn't even Alison's anymore--it is purely Tom Fazio, who incorporated Alison's original Seaside nine (today's 10-18) along with a nine (the Marshland Nine) designed in 1974 by Joe Lee, to create a totally new 18- hole course. But in keeping with the resort’s heritage, Fazio styled his new course in the design fashion of Alison, with big clamshell bunkers, smallish putting surfaces and exposed sand dunes off most of the windswept fairways. The Seaside Course has hosted numerous USGA championships and has been a mainstay of the PGA Tour’s early season roster for many years.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (10)

Private

8. (8) Atlanta Country Club
Marietta, GA, United States

4.2

147 Panelists

  • Best In State

For over a decade, the most spirited debate in golf was over who really designed the really fine Atlanta Country Club. Both Willard Byrd of Atlanta and Joseph S. Finger of Houston claimed the honor. Both lobbied Golf Digest hard for the architectural credit, but neither provided much supporting documentation. Both architects are deceased now, and from what we can piece together, Byrd landed the original contract in the early 1960s, but was still more land-planner than course architect in those days, so the club brought in Finger to finish the job. We give them both credit for this hilly, strategic design, a solution neither architect would likely have accepted. Atlanta resident and former Jack Nicklaus associate Mike Riley remodeled the course in the early 2000s and his work helped put the course back in the America's 100 Greatest Courses ranking in 2003 after it had fallen off in 1997. Now architect Beau Welling is working with the club, and the results of his renovation will be revealed in late 2023 or early 2024.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (11)

Private

9. (9) Frederica Golf Club
Saint Simons Island, GA, United States

4.3

87 Panelists

  • Best In State

This private club is operated by Sea Island resort and located at the far north end of St. Simon's Island near the remains of Fort Frederica. Tom Fazio sometimes gets a rap for building "safe" courses that are heavy on visuals and lite on substance. No one will think he played it safe at Frederica, which possesses some of the most extroverted greens you'll find anywhere. They're full of crests and pockets and channels and crowns. Some are perched on sand ridges that the architecture team created (the 5th, 6th and remarkable 16th) and others are tucked behind sweeping bunkers (like 2, 3, 8 and 17). Moving through clusters of transplanted live oaks, along lakes, over dunes and into the saltwater marshes at the north end of the site, the course feels a little like the Lowcountry meets Long Island.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (12)

Private

10. (12) Champions Retreat: Bluff/Island
Evans, GA
  • Best In State

Champions Retreat was originally going to be called "The Big Three" club. It was the idea of a South African developer who brought together Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer (the original Big Three of golf) during a Masters in the 1990s to discuss the prospect of each of them building a course at his proposed club. The idea worked. Each contributed nine holes at the more enduringly-named Champions Retreat west of Augusta on the Savannah River. The composite 18 for this ranking includes the Bluff Nine (Nicklaus), playing in the pines where it climbs a series of forested ridges that demand precise drives and several demanding uphill approches, and Palmer's Island Nine, more gracious in its width featuring artistically-shaped bunkers, a scenic five-hole foray onto a secluded island along the river and two par 3s that plays across watery inlets.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (13)

Private

11. (15) Augusta Country Club
Augusta, GA, United States

4

48 Panelists

  • Best In State

At one time, Augusta Country Club was perhaps the only place in the U.S. that had courses designed by Donald Ross and Seth Raynor side-by-side. The club considered the Ross course the stronger of the two--Bobby Jones played and competed here frequently in 1920s, and while building neighboring Augusta National in the early 30s--and the Raynor course was eventually sold off in the 1940s. As is often the case, the Ross course underwent many well-intended but transformative modernizations over the decades, but in 2002 archtitect Brian Silva used Ross's hole-by-hole sketches and field notes to restore as much of what had been lost as possible. He rebuilt the greens, squaring them off and following contour details, recreated Ross's grass-face coffin bunkers, stacking them and turning them perpendicular to the line of play, and even revived a very Raynor-like punchbowl green set above a field of bunkers at the short par-4 16th. The club made news in 2018 when it sold a portion of its property--most of its ninth hole--to Augusta National for what would eventually in 2023 become the new back tee for that club's famous 13th hole. Silva subsequently built Augusta Country Club a new ninth, a par 4 that now bends gently to the right. At last report the club is renovating again, this time using architect Tripp Davis to implement a new multi-year masterplan.

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Places to Play The best courses you can play in Georgia

The best golf courses in Georgia (15)

Private

12. (19) Lookout Mountain Club
Lookout Mountain, GA, United States

4.5

59 Panelists

  • Best In State

For decades, Lookout Mountain Club was viewed by architecture buffs and historians as one of the country’s great renovation opportunities.Seth Raynor laid out the course in 1925 on a high, tilting property near Lookout Mountain’s northeastern flank, just outside of Chattanooga. Raynor, who came into the profession over a decade earlier as a surveyor and construction specialist helping celebrated architect C.B. Macdonald build courses like National Golf Links of America, Piping Rock and the extinct Lido Club, had by this time become one of the most active and sought-after designers in the United States. At each of his commissions, including Lookout Mountain, he used variations of the “ideal holes” Macdonald first developed at NGLA (based on original holes from the U.K.), including the Redan, Eden, Road Hole, Alps, etc.These Raynor/Macdonald hole templates have always been present at Lookout Mountain, though few golfers would have recognized them. The course was never finished to Raynor’s plans or standards because he died in 1926 before construction began, and budget constraints and the difficulty of building on the mountain’s solid granite prevented his associate Charles Banks from executing the details. At the time, it was believed to be the second-most expensive golf course ever built, after Yale, another Raynor/Macdonald design.The subsequent years were no kinder. The club never had the resources to properly invest in preserving the Raynor architecture that did get built, and over the decades the greens shrunk, the bunkers dulled and tree-planting crowded the holes. Despite the memorable elevated setting, Lookout Mountain resembled a Raynor course only in glancing angles, a great “what if” considering that the architect's best-preserved work includes four courses—Fishers Island, Chicago Golf Club, Camargo and Shoreacres—in Golf Digest’s top 50.Fortunes changed in 2022 when the club at last garnered the resources to produce the course Raynor envisioned. Working hole by hole, architects Tyler Rae and Kyle Franz, with significant help from designer Benjamin Warren, used the club’s course map that Raynor had drawn to fully implement the template holes in ways that better match the enormous scale of a site possessing views that stretch dozens of miles in several directions. All greens were cored out and rebuilt and the bunkers were either returned to intended positions or reproduce in accordance with the course map.Since the map sketches lacked specific detail, especially concerning green contours, Rae and Franz used their extensive experience working on and researching other Raynor courses to draw inspiration for certain holes. Many, like the Redan 13th, Road 15th, the Double Plateau 17th or Maiden 18th would be fits at many Raynor properties while others like the Sahara third, Dustpan fifth and Lido 14th must be considered originals, expressively so. But it all adds up for a thrilling expression of Macdonald/Raynor architecture on one of the most unique, breathtaking sites Raynor ever worked. The result of Rae and Franz’s restorative efforts won Lookout Mountain Golf Digest’s Best Renovation award for 2023.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (16)

Private

13. (11) Ansley Golf Club (Settindown Creek)
Roswell, GA
  • Best In State

The late architect Bob Cupp, an elite golfer in his youth, was extremely talented at building tournament-worthy golf courses. Settindown Creek, the "country" course of the intown Ansley Golf Club located in the suburbs far north of Atlanta, is no exception (see the slope of 150). The club has hosted a number of prominent state and national events, including the 2005 U.S. Women's Amateur won by Morgan Pressel. It's a tough course that requires controlled approaches into greens surrounded by creeks, ponds, penal bunkers and deep rough. Two thirds of the holes play through the flood plain of the Little River, the other third over typically hilly, wooded north Georgia terrain. The original plan for the course had the holes numbered differently. The property straddled the county line, with most of the course on the Cherokee County side. At the time, however, Cherokee was a dry county, so the club moved the location of the clubhouse across the line into the smaller (and wetter) Fulton County section, necessitating a reording of the holes and turning, unfortunately, one of the course's weakest holes into the current 18th.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (17)

Private

14. (10) Hawks Ridge Golf Club
Ball Ground, GA, United States

4.2

69 Panelists

  • Best In State

About an hour north of Atlanta, Hawks Ridge is a Bob Cupp design that opened in 1999. Not unlike the terrain at Augusta National, Hawks Ridge has dramatic elevation changes as it plays among the towering pines. Known as a "players" club, it's full of accomplished sticks and there's no shortage of high-stakes money games at any given moment. Some members fly in by helicopter. Standout holes include the par-4 second with a second shot that must avoid the lake banked against the green's edge, the big par-3 fourth with an enormous tilted green and the par-4 11th that plays to a left-to-right banked fairway, then uphill to a blind, benched green. The par-4 fifth must also be noted--it's a drivable par-4 playing downhill off a ridge to a shallow green sandwiched between bunkers and a creek. Do you dare?

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The best golf courses in Georgia (18)

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15. (17) The Farm G.C.
Rocky Face, GA, United States

3.6

53 Panelists

  • Best In State

The historian Shelby Foote described the movements of the Union and Confederate armies, as Sherman pushed general Joe Johnston from Chattanooga into Atlanta, as a "red clay minuet" after the wet slippery soil they fought on and the stuttering thrust and parry of their forces. Some of the battle took place along Rocky Face Ridge in the area directly above and surrounding The Farm, and even today it's possible to dislodge a rusted musket ball or bullet from the earth. This otherwise tranquil 1980s-era Tom Fazio design plays partly along the flat farmland at the base of the ridge, partly in its foothill transition, and several holes including the par-4 tenth and par-3 11th shooting across a wooded canyon feel fully in the mountains. So not to favor one side or the other, both nines camber up and down the rise, with ten through 18 making a big loop around the outside of early holes.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (19)

Private

16. (14) The Golf Club at Cuscowilla
Eatonton, GA, United States

4.1

84 Panelists

  • Best In State

Cuscowilla was one among the first group of jobs Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw took on after the opening of Sand Hills, the number eight course on America's 100 Greatest Courses ranking and a design that vaulted the duo to the top of the profession. The site's couldn't be more different. Cuscowilla is located on the shore of Lake Oconee, a large manmade reservoir that's home to the five courses of Reynolds Lake Oconee. To give an example of how Coore and Crenshaw think differently than other archtiects, they recommended the developer of Cuscowilla use the majority of the shoreline for homesites. Most architects would fight for water holes, but they prefered the more rolling uplands for golf rather than the flatter land on the water. Nevertheless, two holes do play along the lake, the Cape-like 10th with a downhill drive across an inlet, and the miniature par 3 11th to an elevated green, but the other parts of the design are stronger. The first six holes comprise one of the most rhythmic and engaging opening runs of any course in their remarkable portfolio and includes the uphill drivable, split-fariway par-4 fifth that is now something close to a template hole. Late in the round the loop of 15, 16 and 17 is almost as strong. Cuscowilla was also shaper extraordinaire Jeff Bradley's coming out party, and early showcase of his distinctive style of grassy, gnawed-edge bunkers, replete with Georgia's red clay sand.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (20)

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17. (13) Atlanta Athletic Club: Riverside
Johns Creek, GA, United States

4.2

76 Panelists

  • Best In State

Robert Trent Jones built 27 holes for the Atlanta Athletic Club when it moved from East Lake in Atlanta to the northern suburb of Duluth (now called Johns Creek) in the late 1960s. When Joe Finger added a fourth nine on a high section of the property in the early 70s, the holes were broken into two 18-hole courses, the Highlands Course, host of the 1976 U.S. Open and 2001 and 2011 PGA Championships, and the Riverside Course.Riverside was always viewed as the more friendly, non-championship course, though it hosted it's share of prestigious tournaments as well. Rees Jones performed major work on both courses through the years and the style of each came to resemble more his architeture than his father's, or Finger's.In 2022, Tripp Davis remodeled Riverside, rebuilding and reshaping each hole, each green site and the bunkers to tie them better into the landforms, creating new looks and several new holes in the process. Davis divided the par-5 third into a short par 3 and a dogleg left par 4 with the new green pushed back against the Chattahoochee River, then combined the old fourth and fifth into a riverside par 5 that bends gradually right. The twelfth green was pushed back 80 yards to turn it into a par 5, the par-3 17th green was rebuilt with modifeid punchbowl shaping and water hazards near the greens at 14 and 18 were removed. Riverside finished second for the 2023 Best Transformation award, and there are some (including us) who would divide a 10-round split between Highlands and Riverside 5-5, or even 6-4 in favor or the latter.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (21)

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18. (16) Reynolds Lake Oconee: Great Waters
Eatonton, GA, United States

4.3

158 Panelists

  • 100 Greatest Public
  • Best In State

Early in his design career, Jack Nicklaus said he would design resort courses differently than championship ones. Great Waters is a vivid example of that intent. With a routing that features 10 holes on Lake Oconee, Jack and his associate Jim Lipe worked hard to vary the encounters with water. On one hole it's a carry off a tee, on another, it's beside a green, while on a couple, it's a cove in front of a green. Every encounter features a generous bailout option. Another concession to resort golfers: The greens are big but simple, with few complex contours.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (22)

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19. (23) The Ford Field and River Club
Richmond Hill, GA

4.5

77 Panelists

  • Best In State

This property, just a half-hour south of Savannah, was once the winter retreat of Henry Ford and his family, but golf didn't arrive until the 1980s when a new owner hired Pete Dye to build a course. Dropped blindly on any of the holes on the first nine and you might think you were at almost any of Dye's southeastern courses--is this Harbour Town? Oak Marsh? Long Cove Club or Barefoot Resort? The tells are all there, from the moss-draped oaks to the strip bunkers to the bulkheaded water features and moguls and hollows surrounding small greens. But there's no mistaking the second nine for anywhere else. These holes circle over an open isthmus of land projecting into the Ogeechee River. The treeless plain is full of Dye's architecture that looks particularly good in this exposed setting, particularly the wonderful drive and pitch 10th with a green set hard against the water, the par-4 14th with a bunkerless elevated green, and a nice rendition of his often used 5-3-4 finish tacking back toward the large antebellum clubhouse. Thesix-time host of the Georgia Open isalso full of dozens of alligators that blissfully bask on the banks.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (23)

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20. (18) Capital City Club (Crabapple)
Alpharetta, GA, United States

4

62 Panelists

  • Best In State

Capital City Club, one of the oldest in Atlanta, opened their new Crabapple course in the far northern suburbs in 2002, and a year later it hosted the WGC American Express, won by Tiger Woods. The course sits on a vast property with no intrusion of development or homes other than the clubhouse, and though a treeless wetlands runs through the center of the course, the surrounding space gave Tom Fazio and his team room to explore. That freedom provides the course a look and playability that's distinct from almost all other courses in the market, moving in and out of different ecosystems with a minimal of hill-climbing. Crabapple excels is in this layout varietty, with holes running through pines and hardwoods and others canvassing the fields surrounding eight through ten and 15 through 18. There are split-level fairways, a drivable downhill par 4, par 3s that range from pitching wedge to long iron and a great closing trio of holes that include a reachable par 5 and two back-breaking par 4s. Though details are vague, rumor is that the entire course is going to be rebuilt soon by Fazio, including the instalation of sub-surface air systems.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (24)

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21. (22) Currahee Club
Toccoa, GA

4.1

41 Panelists

  • Best In State

Nestled within the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, this Jim Fazio course tips out at 7,513 yards and tests players with severe elevation changes with some tight landing areas. The par-3 17th hole plays over an old quarry with a creek cascading over the rim of the quarry. One of the most unique views in the region can be found on a tee box with 360-panoramic views with four states in view.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (25)

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22. (29) Capital City Club (Brookhaven)
Atlanta, GA, United States

2.6

25 Panelists

  • Best In State

Brookhaven is the club's "city" course, though when it was built by architect H.H. Barker in the early 20th centrury it was far out in the country. The city has grown up around it and playing here is a pleasant juxtaposition of green-grass nature and town with the high-rises of nearby Buckhead and the upscale Brookhave neightborhood on display from various points on the course. The golf is fitted onto a tight property and has seen its fair share of renovation and remodels over the decades, with the most recent in 2009 when Bob Cupp rebuilt and re-engineered the course with new holes, a new routing and a new look, somehow finding space for a large new driving range and room for continual clubhouse and amenity expansion. Brookhaven is a fun shotmaker's course with sporty, creatively contoured greens, great variety for such a small footprint, and a wonderful setup run from the par-5 12th through the par-4 15th. The exaggerated bi-level green at the eighth, however, continues to be a source of controversy.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (26)

23. (20) The McLemore Club: Highlands
Rising Fawn, GA, United States
  • Best In State

This course, formerly known as Canyon Ridge, opened in 2005 to regional acclaim in large part due to several holes that crept out to the edge of Lookout Mountain in northwest Georgia, peering down to a valley floor several hundred feet below. Other parts of the design were less successful. New owners rechristened the club McLemore and brought in Rees Jones and Georgia native Bill Bergin to remodel the course. Those soaring views were opened up even further, revisions were made to the bunkers and greens, and a new 18th hole was built on a previously inaccessible ledge of land farther out over the precipice of the mountain. Golf Digest deemed that hole, a breathtaking par 4 that rides the clifftop and seems to levitate above McLemore Cove, one of the best 18 holes built in the U.S. since 2000. Part of a gated community, McLemore offers attractive overnight packages, and a new 245-room hotel and resort will soon be added to the collection. —Derek Duncan

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More From Golf Digest

2023-2024 ranking America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses

The best golf courses in Georgia (28)

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24. (24) The Golf Club of Georgia (Lakeside)
Alpharetta, GA

4

64 Panelists

  • Best In State

Arthur Hills had a productive run in Atlanta from the late 1980s throug the early '90s building five new courses that set a new tone for premium golf in the city, both public and private. His marquee design was the Lakeside Course at the 36-hole Golf Club of Georgia north of the city, winner of the Best New Private Course in 1991. The lake in question is Lake Windward, which Hills used as a jagged shoreline hazard for holes 11 through 14. Another body of water, the pond in front of the 18th green, played a role in determining the outcome of several Nationwide Championships, a Senior PGA Tour event played at the course from 1995 to 2000.

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Private

Atlanta, GA, United States

4.4

86 Panelists

  • Best In State

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The best golf courses in Georgia (29)

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26. (NR) TPC Sugarloaf: Stables/Meadows
Duluth, GA, United States
  • Best In State

TPC Sugarloaf was the host of the Bell South Classic from 1997 through 2008, held on the Stables and Meadows nines of this 27 hole club. The Greg Norman design was impressive for the champions it produced, including Tiger Woods, David Duval, Retief Goosen, Zach Johnson (twice) and Phil Mickelson (three times). The course is notable for its slick-shouldered greens and stacked sod-wall bunkers, a feature not often seen in U.S. golf in the 90s. The club recently completed a multi-million dollar renovation that has brought the infrastructure up to 21st century standards.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (30)

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27. (25) Sea Island G.C. (Plantation)
Saint Simons Island, GA, United States

3.7

108 Panelists

  • Best In State

Sea Island’s golf courses have a long and rather convoluted history covering nearly 100 years of expansion, reconfiguration and renovations. Through it all, the historic Seaside has been the one that people schedule their visits around, full of holes that skirt Saint Simons Sound, the intracoastal marshes and sandy dunes refurbished by Tom Fazio in the late 1990s. The Plantation course, which started as a combination of one nine designed by Walter Travis in the 1920s and another from Dick Wilson in 1960, and synthesized together by Rees Jones in the 1990s, has typically played second fiddle.Not so much now. Keying on the original forms and concepts laid out by Travis, the Sea Island-based team of Mark and Davis Love III, along with lead architect Scot Sherman, stripped Plantation in 2019 and rebuilt it as a homage to early Golden Age design with deep coffin bunkers and squared-off plateau greens. The staggered bunkers eat into the broad fairways at intervals to set up zig-zag angles and others have been introduced as dastardly centerline hazards, like the Principals Nose feature on the short, drivable 10th that replaces a long bending par 4 in order to make room for a massive putting course near the resort clubhouse.Other holes were broken up and recombined to better fit the property’s small footprint and create more sporting half-par holes. There’s even a touch of Pete Dye in the design in the use of bulkheading, small pot bunkers and S-shaped tee-to-green strategies. Guests will still instinctively gravitate toward Seaside and the long water views, but if they skip over Plantation they’ll miss a course jazzing it up on the opposite side of the architectural spectrum, and one of the more interesting designs in the southeast.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (31)

Private

28. (28) The River Club
Suwanee, GA, United States

4.2

41 Panelists

  • Best In State

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The best golf courses in Georgia (32)

Private

29. (NR) Dunwoody Country Club
Atlanta, GA

3.1

34 Panelists

  • Best In State

Dunwoody is an example of the benefits of smart renovation. The club was established in the 1960s in the countryside north of Atlanta as the suburbs were quickly expanding that direction. It was a nice neighborhood country club with a perfectly fine course designed by Willard Byrd, who was one of the top regional architects working in the southeast in the 1960s and 70s. Over time, like all courses, the trees thickened and the golf features dulled, making the golf ordinary. Enter Atlanta-based architect Bill Bergin, who remodeled the course in 2013 by thinning excessive trees, expanding putting surfaces, creating more room in the fairways and giving the bunkering a more distinctive look with vertical grass faces and strong horizontal top lines. Though he couldn't cure the awkwardness of the unfortunate fifth hole, a 6-iron/8-iron par 4 that bends 90-degrees right, his work breathed new life into the wonderful, rolling piece of land with a kind of centralized core routing that later became increasingly rare in the Atlanta market. Once sleepy, Dunwoody Country Club is now a sleeper and well worth seeking out when in the region.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (33)

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30. (NR) The Oconee at Reynolds Lake Oconee
Greensboro, GA, United States

4.3

73 Panelists

  • Best In State

Ranked 8th for Golf Digest’s Best New Upscale Public Course of 2002, the Oconee course is known for its risk-reward shot options and views of the serene Lake Oconee on five holes. Forced carries over water inlets and opportunities to cut corners on tree-lined doglegs make this Rees Jones design a pleasure to play.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (34)

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31. (NR) The National at Reynolds Lake Oconee (Ridge/Bluff)
Greensboro, GA, United States
  • Best In State

The National features 27 holes designed by Tom Fazio that traverse the rolling terrain, providing plenty of elevation changes. There are over 100 bunkers on the layout—most moderately sized—which frame the fairways that are often set well below the tees. Though water comes into play throughout, there’s often ample room to bail out away from the trouble. The course can tip out at over 7,000 yards (depending on which nines you play), providing a stern test. Yet, with the resort guest in mind, there are seven sets of tees available.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (35)

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32. (NR) The Golf Club of Georgia: Creekside
Alpharetta, GA, United States

4

37 Panelists

  • Best In State

The Creekside course has one of the most peripatetic routings imaginable. Peripatetic means "traveling from place to place" and that's what the course does, moving one direction through pine preserves, traveling 200 yards through the trees and emerging somewhere else, then jumping across a wetland to yet another parcel of land, and so on. Eventually you're lost. That's part of the course's mystique, the ability to turn golfers in circles and seclude them from the bustle of the surrounding north Atlanta suburbs. But there is a lot of jumping around, as in, repeatedly hitting drives and approaches over the creeks and wetlands to islands of turf and then driving around them to see where they ended up. Creekside is not for the weak player or one who struggles to get the ball airborn. Work has been done recently to create more landing space, including at the par 5 fifth that used to require a 200-yard carry to reach the fairway, and then another 200+ yard shot over wetlands to reach a small second fairway, followed by a third shot across the axis of one of the shallowest greens on the course with a ravine behind it.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (36)

Private

33. (27) Druid Hills Golf Club
Atlanta, GA

3.8

43 Panelists

  • Best In State

Druid Hills is one of the oldest courses in Atlanta along with East Lake and Capital City Club. The course was built in 1912 by H.H. Barker (who also laid out Capital City) in the city's first wealthy suburb a few miles east of downtown. A compact, hilly course with holes that climb up and down high points at the center of the property, the club has hosted the Dogwood Invitational since 1941, one of the top amateur tournaments in the southeast. Bob Cupp preformed a major remodel of the course in the early 2000s that included the constrcution of an entirely new hole. Bill Bergin, an Atlanta-based architect, rebuilt the bunkers in 2017, creating deep bottoms and steep grass faces that give the design an intimidating look. The strength of the course are two short, side-by-side par 4s, three and 12, with gambling downhill drives that set up short pitch-shot approaches into tricky green, one of which (the third) must carry a creek.

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The best golf courses in Georgia (37)

Private

Atlanta, GA, United States

3.8

50 Panelists

  • Best In State

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The best golf courses in Georgia (38)

Private

35. (NR) The Landings Club: Deer Creek
Savannah, GA, United States

3.9

29 Panelists

  • Best In State

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