Several of the finest golf resorts in the world – let alone the United States – sit in every corner of Georgia. Sea Island boasts three courses that meander through tidal marshes, with views of St. Simons Sound and the Atlantic Ocean on most every swing. Reynolds' six courses cut through wispy pines surrounding Lake Oconee, while Chateau Elan's 63 holes rollick over the Appalachian foothills.
Take a step back in time to the Roaring '20s at The Lodge at Sea Island Golf Club in Georgia's oak- and Spanish moss-lined Golden Isles. The Cloister at Sea Island, a sprawling Mediterranean-style building first constructed in 1928, is a Forbes Five-Star hotel; the Georgian Room, set inside, is the state's only Forbes Five-Star restaurant.
Sea Island's three 18-hole courses – Seaside (home of the PGA Tour’s annual RSM Classic), Plantation and Retreat – blend seamlessly with wiregrass-filled salt marshes that dot the island's coast. Use Titleist Pro-V1 balls at your own risk here, as the mud will swallow wayward shots faster than the crabs that scurry through nearby tidal pools can snap their claws.
Tom Fazio redesigned the Seaside course in 1999 to resemble a Scottish links course. Rees Jones renovated the Plantation course to make better use of the live oak trees and tidal creeks, and give golfers panoramic views of the Atlantic. The Davis Love III-designed Retreat course is the most forgiving, but some of golf's best teachers reside on-site at the Golf Performance Center to help fix any swing.
Reynolds Lake Oconee
If variety is your chief concern when choosing a golf vacation, look no further than Reynolds Lake Oconeeon Georgia red clay-tinged Lake Oconee. Fly into Atlanta and drive 90 minutes east along Interstate 20 on a Sunday evening, get a good night's rest in your room at the Triple-A Five Diamond The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, then tee up Monday through Friday and never play the same course twice.
Start off the week in style at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Great Waters course, rated by "Golf Magazine" as the fifth-best Nicklaus course you can play. Great Waters' final eight holes sit precariously on the shores of Lake Oconee. Golf writer Joe Passov rates the par-4 No. 11, par-3 No. 14 and par-5 No. 18 as three of the best holes on the property. Fill the other four days with the Rees Jones-designed Oconee course, the 27-hole Tom Fazio-designed National, and the Plantation and Landing courses, both designed by Atlanta-based Bob Cupp.
Chateau Elan Golf Club is an easy 45-mile drive northeast from Atlanta to Braselton – and far easier than flying across the Atlantic to a French countryside estate. The resort, if the name did not give it away, perfectly resembles a chateau set in France's wine country. And Chateau Elan keeps pace with its own working winery and culinary studio.
Oh, and there's golf. Denis Griffiths designed the Chateau course that features water on 10 of 18 holes set among northeast Georgia's ubiquitous rolling hills. Griffiths also designed the newer Woodlands Course, rated 4.5 stars by "Golf Digest" and considered by some to be a better layout than its older sibling.