GOLFERS ARE HEADIN’ FOR THE HILLS – IN GEORGIA
Story by: Mike May
Photos by: Ed Stone
Many golfers often assume that the best mountain golf along the east coast is restricted to North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. The often overlooked state is actually Georgia. Many golfers would be pleasantly surprised to know that two of the finest locations for mountain golf are actually located in the Peach State – specifically Brasstown Valley Resort in Young Harris, Georgia and Innsbruck Golf Club in Helen, Georgia. And, one of the finest mountain-based resorts is also located in north Georgia – Unicoi State Park & Lodge in Helen. An ideal travel plan for golfers is to stay at the Unicoi and then make the short commute each day to Brasstown Valley and Innsbruck.
|Two of the finest locations for mountain golf are actually located in the Peach State – specifically Brasstown Valley Resort in Young Harris, Georgia and Innsbruck Golf Club in Helen, Georgia.
It’s also worth noting that each of those golf courses is also a part of the Georgia Golf Trail.
“There isn’t a better weekend combination than staying at the Unicoi Lodge at night and then spending the days golfing at nearby Brasstown Valley and Innsbruck,” said Doug Hollandsworth, Founder, Georgia Golf Trail. “We have terrific mountain golf opportunities in Georgia.”
Nestled among the North Georgia Mountains, Brasstown Valley Resort (Pro Shop: 706-379-4613) is the quintessential mountain golf getaway. Even though Brasstown is located in the mountains, the golf course was built in a valley like setting, which justifies its moniker – Brasstown Valley. Just a two-hour drive from Atlanta to the south and Chattanooga from the north, Brasstown is easily accessible for golfers from anywhere in the Southeast. At Brasstown Valley, there is a certain clarity to the golf experience. The mountain air is clearer, cleaner, and crisper. The atmosphere is refreshing, relaxing, and re-energizing. The golf course is well maintained, cleverly designed, and entertaining to play. It’s the real deal -- a fair and fun golf experience. By standing on the practice putting green and admiring the beauty of the north Georgia terrain, it gets you excited about the 18 holes that await you. It all starts with a tee shot from a raised tee to a fairway down below. The carry is not as long as it looks, but it’s a tee shot which you want to hit well since the hang time will be significant. And, it just gets better from there. The golf course winds its way through wildlife preserves, ponds, and streams. At all times, you have spectacular views of the surrounding mountainous terrain. Golf course designer Denis Griffiths carved a gem out of those mountains in north Georgia. Just go play Brasstown Valley….and then play it again.
The Innsbruck Resort and Golf Club (Pro Shop: 706-878-2100) is nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of north Georgia, located on the outskirts of Helen. The 18-hole par-72 golf course was designed by Bill Watts and was rated among Golf Digest's Best Places to Play back in 2006/2007. It remains one of those Best Places to Play. Some golf pundits have referred to Innsbruck as “Alpine mountain golf at its finest.” Others have referred to the golf experience at Innsbruck as “affordable golf in priceless surroundings.” Both statements are accurate. At Innsbruck, distances don’t mean as much simply because of the large number of uphill and downhill shots that you have from the tee boxes and as you approach the greens. The most memorable shot at Innsbruck will be the downhill tee shot on the 15th hole. The descent from tee to green is significant – at least 150 feet. You won’t need nearly as much club as you think from any of the tees on the 15th. For many of the tee shots at Innsbrook, you are better off hitting your three wood rather than driver, simply because accuracy is more important than distance, especially on downhill tee shots.
After golfing at Brasstown and Innsbruck, enjoy the Unicoi State Park & Lodge (Lodge:1-800-573-9659/Park: 706-878-2201). The list of activities at Unicoi is staggering. Simply put, at Unicoi, you will rediscover your sense of adventure. Nobody gets bored at Unicoi. The resort features archery, zip lining, fly fishing, tennis, twelve miles of hiking trails, eight miles of mountain biking trails, and a 53-acre lake which is ideal for swimming, pedal boating, fishing, canoeing, paddle boarding, and kayaking. During summer evenings, there are summer twilight hikes as well as a summer concert tour which is held at Unicoi. As for the accommodations, your best bet is to spend the night in one of 100 rooms at the Lodge, though cottages and campsites for tents, trailers or RVs are also an option.
It goes without saying that any trip to north Georgia for golf should include a visit to the community of Helen, which has a strong Germanic quality to its architecture and atmosphere. When walking along the main road which goes through Helen, one gets the feeling that an Octoberfest-like celebration will be taking place that day and night. And, in October, it does!
I can guarantee you that it won’t be easy leaving north Georgia, but it will be easy coming back.
# # #