Love playing new and challenging courses. One of the reasons I started this blog is to share my experiences giving those that may happen upon the site some 4caddy knowledge about places they may consider playing. We have many options as consumers spending hard earned money on a pleasure pursuit that should yield a bit of happiness. With the background laid, I’d like to offer a review of a very keen playing opportunity just north of Atlanta in Dahlonega, Georgia. The course is Achasta and it was designed by none other than Jack Nicklaus himself. In a word, this course is beautiful.
The course offers something for every level of golfer and can provide a stern challenge to a highly skilled player. Meandering through the foothills, Achasta’s beauty alerts the senses to the task at hand. Controlling your golf ball is paramount to any opportunity at a decent score. Each hole offers it’s own set of challenges as you will need to strike a serene balance between risk and reward. The green complexes are just that, complex. If your golf shot finds the right location in relation to the flag, you are in for a putting treat. Attacking from above the hole is often problematic and requires a delicate hand to ward off 5 or 6 feet coming back should you miss. The greens were particularly good during my first visit. They were aerated a few weeks ago so I was probably a week or so early before they truly reach perfection. That said, I always felt confident that my putts would roll true given a good roll was put on the ball.
So for the holes…how’d they play? This golf course has so much character to it, so many holes that I loved playing. I can’t think of a course I’ve played where there wasn’t at least a hole that I absolutely developed a deep distaste. Hate is such a strong word, so I reserve that for special holes that like to torment golfers….or maybe just me. As for Achasta, really and truly, I liked the fairness of each chapter in the story. In particular, #3 is a fantastic par 3 that lends itself to a nice little butter cut to hold the green. #6 is a very good par 5 that is straight forward till you get to the green. The bunkers are not there for show, if you aren’t precise you’ll know it pretty quick. #9 is diabolical. Seriously, if you there is a killer on this course, it is #9. On the card, it doesn’t seem like much, but when you are standing on the tee, it’s so much more, provoking even the optimist to question. If you can get it past the bridge on the left side, it’s far easier to approach the green. If you push it right, you’ve better packed a lunch. You are aren’t crossing a stream at that point to clear the hazard, that is a full blown river. The Chestatee river must eat up a lot of golf balls is all I’m saying. Pretty sure I saw a bloated catfish with a Titleist tattoo lurking in the under current, massive sucker too. #13 will goad most to take a poke, just be sure to know that precision is key here. From the blues it was playing 259 yards to the green. Fall short, you will have a tricky sand shot to an elevated green. Strong like bull and not hold the green….well take your medicine and try to get it up and down for par. Something about the wind on this hole makes the yardage seem a little suspect too, can’t put my finger on it. #15, boy is that a golf hole. If there is one hole I could grow to hate, it would be 15. Yet, even walking away with a bogey, I wanted to saddle up and try it again. That second shot made me queasy, though if I had it to do again, which I will at some point, I would have pulled a 3 wood and given it a go. As it was, I played safe with a wedge, only to find the river hitting the cart path taking a high bounce right into the Chestatee. It’s a pretty river, but that’s where Pro Vs go to die. Left me with an enviable 202 yards to the pin after the drop, I mean who doesn’t want to try and get up and down from that yardage.
On a dry day, this course would be fantastic. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy when it’s wet. When I say wet, I mean absolutely underwater. Some of the fairways resembled bogs, especially on #18. I had purchased vouchers through GolfNow, so I wasn’t that upset with course conditions given the money I paid. After about the 4th hole, I knew the course was going to play 6 or 7 strokes harder given the conditions. The blue tees were listed at 6400 yards, but in reality, it was probably closer to 6700 with the lack of roll. My playing partners who had paid full price, weren’t as agreeable to the condition of the course. When we hit the #18 there was downright hostility towards the course. I talked to a cart attendant after the round to try and get a picture of how the course would normally play. Gathering he had been there a couple of years, he told me he had never seen it this wet and he kept telling me to come back in the summer…this place is just awesome. He said the course had pretty much been in it’s current condition since January. I found that fact to be a little disappointing. In the time I’ve played the game, I’ve only waged a complaint to golf course management but a handful of times. In this particular instance, I didn’t think it was right to be charging guys 80+ dollars for a course that was 70 percent casual water. In speaking to the Head Professional, he referenced a course having similar conditions closer to our area in Metro Atlanta, basically saying all the courses are like that right now. I told him the before referenced course has historically had issues with water and really not a fair comparison with the myriad of other similar tracks in the area that are absolutely playable. Granted, it rained the night before so I was expecting it to be wet. What I didn’t expect was guys having issues walking on some of the fairways with fear of falling. Unfortunate, but it was the reality of the condition of the course.
Overall, I will make another run at Achasta, but I will be sure to check on course condition before making the drive. “Cart path only” made for slow sledding, but we still manage to navigate the course in a little over 4 hours. By the way, do yourself a favor and get something to eat at the turn or after your round. The grill does a fantastic job and the staff is bright and courteous. The sweet potato fries were sinful….yes they were that good, though I wouldn’t characterize them as a healthy choice. Not sure I’ll get two players in my party to comeback, not coincidentally, they paid full price and were pretty unhappy with the experience. They are more casual golfers as well, playing on average of once a month. To be honest, I was less frustrated with the course, but a little salty about the lack compassion from management. I get they are coming from a position of perceived strength. The money is already counted and they know the course normally is worth the price. I can’t knock Achasta as a golf course, you just know it’s a solid track when the conditions permit. I will however knock management for not recognizing when your product is less than stellar. The offer of an olive branch would have done wonders for the perception of our on course experience. Guys would have been happy with any acknowledgement. Just my two cents.