Callaway Resort & Gardens
...golfing in Georgia's Garden of Eden

By Ed Stone
Editor/Publisher of GoGolfandTravel.com

Ariel view of Callaway Gardens' Lake View #10, Par 3 hole and Mountain Creek Lake. (Photo courtesy: Callaway Gardens)

In the fall of 1964, on a perfect autumn afternoon, three men teed up golf balls on the first hole of the Lake View golf course and enjoyed a round on one of Georgia's most beautiful courses in Pine Mountain, Georgia.  They were Hugh Royer, Jr., the resident golf pro, Ed Finley a photographer who shot many beautiful locations of Callaway Gardens for his base of operations for Mercury Outboard Motors and myself.

Some 50-plus years later, the Lake View golf course remains one of my top ten favorite courses to play…in the World.  Fortunately, I've been blessed with opportunities to play many golf courses around the World…Australia, Italy, Great Britain, Canada, etc.  So, making this claim holds a very strong title to me.

When you step up on the first tee at either the Lake View course or the Mountain View course at Callaway Resort & Gardens be prepared for an exciting and eye-opening adventure.  Your next four hours should not be solely consumed with your pursuit of eagles, birdies, and pars while trying to avoid bogeys, double bogeys, or worse.  While playing golf will be the focal point of your Callaway excursion, it's important to take note of the flora and fauna that help shape and define this golf experience.  Even the city where I lived for some 12 years and the location of this resort has a name personifying the rural experience.

While Callaway Resort & Gardens was built for visitors to get some R & R, there are some 'residents' of the property who don't pay for their room or board, yet they are an integral part of the Callaway experience.  Those 'freeloaders' are white-tailed deer, turtles, Eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies, Eastern bluebirds, gray squirrels, red-tailed hawks, mallard ducks, Canadian geese, great blue herons, red foxes, grey foxes, wild turkeys, and the Georgia state bird, the brown thrasher.  It's worth noting that the bluebird nest boxes, which you will see on both golf courses, actually serve two purposes – one for the bluebirds and one for golfers: (1) they are homes for these colorful cavity nesters and (2) they serve as 150-yard markers along the golf course.

LAKE VIEW GOLF COURSE:

Lakeview's #10, par 3 with serpentine bridge and Garden's Clubhouse in background

Lake View, the original course was built at the 2,500-acre family resort in the late '40s and early '50s. It opened in May 1952 with 9-holes when the Gardens first opened to the public. The course designers were J.B. McGovern (one of Donald Ross' crew chiefs) and Dick Wilson. Cason J. Callaway, Sr., the Gardens' founder, provided much of the inspiration for Lake View's layout. "I don't like to halfway lose a golf ball," stated Mr. Callaway, "I want to find it instantly or know it's gone forever. If a golfer looks up from his/her shot, I want them to be looking at something beautiful." All around the course, there are plantings of azaleas, dogwoods, rhododendrons and native flowering plants.

Dick Wilson and Joe Lee designed the second nine holes of golf of Lake View. These nine holes became the front nine and were opened in 1962. The Georgia Ladies Championship was the first major tournament played on the 18 holes in April 1963. The course was recently renovated in 2002.

All 18-holes are beautifully landscaped and well designed. The original nine holes were configured around the 175-acre Mountain Creek Lake with the 17th-century English provincial Clubhouse being the gathering focal point for dining and events. There are four holes on Lake View where water comes into play. The current number 10, par-3 with its island tee and the serpentine bridge is the signature hole. This picturesque layout is to Callaway what the island green is to Coeur d'Alene or TPC Sawgrass.

Lake View offers four sets of tees with the tips (blues) playing 6,158 yards, whites are 5,834, greens are 5,196 and forward tees play to 4,473. This is a par 70 course that is a delight for all skill levels. Callaway installed junior tees to attract younger golfers to the resort.

Lake View Tees

Yardage

Course Rating

Slope

Blue

6,158

 69.1

 127

White

5,834

67.8

124

Green

5,196

 65.5

 116

Red

4,473

66.3

113


MOUNTAIN VIEW GOLF COURSE:

The par 5, #15 of Mountain View was ranked as the fourth most difficult hole on the PGA Tour by USA Today.  (Photo courtesy: Callaway Gardens)

Mountain View course is truly a championship-designed layout and will give all golfers a challenge to its 7,057-yards for a par 72. The course was opened in 1966. It has ranked among the nation's top-rated courses by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine and served as the site of the PGA Tour's Buick Challenge for more than a decade back from 1991 to 2002. Also designed by Dick Wilson, Mountain View features tight, tree-lined fairways with water coming into play on four holes. Of note is the par 5, number 15. Both your tee and approach shots have water in play. If you're not a long hitter off the tee, then your second shot is over water, too.   When the course was part of the PGA Tour, USA Today ranked hole number 15 as the fourth most difficult par 5 on the Tour.

Mountain View Tees

Yardage

Course Rating

Slope

Championship

7,057

73.5

136

White

6,630

71.7

131

Green

5,789

68.2

122

Red

4,883

69.0

119

Twin Oaks Practice area at Mountain View Course

A short cart ride from the Mountain View Clubhouse is the 26-acre Twin Oaks Practice Facility named in honor of the two majestic water oaks towering the area. Here golfers will discover one of the finest practice layouts that include multiple target greens and a large practice putting green. The important short game area features two large sand bunkers and multiple chipping and pitching areas.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW A SHORT YOUTUBE VIDEO OF THE ASSISTANT GOLF PRO GIVING AN OVERVIEW OF THE LAKE VIEW AND MOUNTAIN VIEW COURSES.

As you play both courses, take notice of the loblolly pines in the surrounding forests.  The loblolly pine is the chief pulpwood source in Georgia, but the ones at Callaway Resort & Gardens remain untouched.  Other significant plant life includes the climbing muscadine grapevine, southern magnolias, Yaupon holly, and longleaf pine.  The climbing muscadine grapevine has purple thick-skinned, fall-ripening fruits, which are commonly seen in sauces, jellies, and preserves.  The story about southern magnolias at Callaway is impacted by love.  Decades ago, Callaway Gardens founder Cason Callaway presented his wife, Virginia, with a gift of 5,000 southern magnolia seedlings which were planted throughout the property.

THE GARDENS:

On May 21, 1952, Callaway Gardens opened to the public with the same purpose then as today: "to provide a wholesome family environment where all may find beauty, relaxation, inspiration and a better understanding of the living world." Since then there is a small sign at the entrance to the Gardens that reads: "Take nothing from these Gardens except inspiration for the mind, consolation for the heart and nourishment for the soul."

The rare and beautiful Plumleaf native azalea serves as part of the Callaway Gardens logo

Cason and Virginia Callaway built the Gardens as a memorial to his mother Ida Cason Callaway. Until the early 1960s, the resort was called Ida Cason Callaway Gardens. The original resort included 2,500 acres of native gardens with a greenhouse, walking trails featuring both native and ornamental plantings, i.e., azaleas, dogwood, rhododendrons, magnolias, etc. Of note is the rare rhododendron prunifolia (plumleaf) azalea that grows only within a 100-mile radius of the Gardens. Mrs. Callaway personally undertook the challenge of preserving the existence of this beautiful native plant that blooms in July/August and is part of the emblem of Callaway Resort & Gardens today.

The Virginia Hand Callaway Discovery Center
 Pioneer log cabin

Day Butterfly House

Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel

Education and family values have been the primary objectives and purpose of Callaway Gardens. Providing experiences of nature, horticulture and wholesome recreation have continued from the beginning until now. The Callaway family has always influenced the management and oversight of the business, even though outside top executives have been in major positions, a steady hand from the family is ever-present. This has been a good thing.

OTHER CALLAWAY GARDENS ATTRACTIONS:

  • The Virginia Hand Callaway Discovery Center, a 35,000-square-foot facility, offers guests an opportunity to learn what is happening in the Gardens. The Center also has historical and geographical information about Callaway Gardens, an orientation theatre, an auditorium, exhibit hall showcasing rotating displays, an education wing and restaurant -- all situated on the western edge of Mountain Creek Lake with a beautiful view of the Pine Mountain ridge.
  • In May 2005, a beautiful and educational Backyard Wildlife Habitat, a designation earned from the National Wildlife Federation, was opened between the Callaway Discovery Center and the Discovery Amphitheatre. Here guests can see wildlife up-close as well as learn how to attract wildlife to their backyards by providing the proper plant, food and water sources.
  • The incredible Birds of Prey program features native raptors displaying their natural abilities in a beautiful outdoor amphitheater. Falcons, owls, hawks and even the regal bald eagle fly above the audience, sharing the elusive secrets of their counterparts in the wild.
  • The Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl opened in 1999 and is celebrating its 10th anniversary. As the world's largest azalea garden, measuring 40 acres and featuring thousands of hybrid and native azaleas, the garden also includes a multitude of other flora creating a beautiful, colorful garden year-round.
  • The Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center is one of the premiere glass-enclosed, tropical conservatories for the display of living butterflies in North America. The center, which houses approximately 1000 butterflies of up to 100 species, opened in September of 1988 and in 2005 underwent a $2 million renovation to make the facility more educational and comfortable to its many guests. The center recently earned certification as a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) facility by the U. S. Green Building Council.
  • Robin Lake Beach (open Memorial Day to mid-August) offers a plentitude of great family activities including swimming, miniature golf, paddleboats, rides on a miniature train, shuffleboard and table tennis. A special highlight is the Florida State University "Flying High" Circus, which performs several times weekly during the summer.
  • Walking trails and roadways showcase the world's largest display of hollies, more than 700 varieties of hybrid azaleas and many varieties of wildflowers.
  • The Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel is set in the heart of the Gardens and is used as a place for quiet meditation, worship and weddings. Organ concerts are scheduled throughout the year. Norman Vincent Peale dedicated the Chapel in April of 1962.
  • The Pioneer Log Cabin is an authentic 18th-century structure representing the life of Georgia's early settlers.
  • The Discovery Bicycle Trail is a 10-mile paved trail that weaves through the Gardens' woodland and interpretive areas. It has stops at all of the major attractions at Callaway Gardens.
  • Fishing in Callaway Gardens' many lakes is a popular pastime among guests. With 13 lakes, Callaway offers traditional tackle and fly-fishing opportunities, guided fishing excursions and a full-service fly shop. The staff, many certified by the Federation of Fly Fishers as instructors, provide a two-day Fly Fishing School most months.

ACCOMMODATIONS:

When making the trek to Callaway Resorts and Gardens, you have many accommodation options. Each accommodation option comes with free admission to Callaway Gardens.  They include:

(Above) The outstanding Callaway Lodge & Spa.
Belpw) Tucked away in the beautiful pines are the Callaway Cottages.
  • Callaway's Lodge & Spa - Enjoy the ultra-comfortable accommodations that have earned the AAA Four Diamond award. These 150 rooms will place you amid nature and a short walk to the beautiful 65-acre Robin Lake Beach for lots of family activities in the summer and beautiful vistas year-round. All guests enjoy complimentary admission to the famous Gardens.
  • Callaway's Southern Pine Cottages - Tucked away in the beautiful pines, they are beautifully and tastefully decorated accommodations that offer both one and two-bedroom cottages.
  • Mountain Creek® Inn and luxurious Mountain Creek Villas – These accommodations are both charming and appealing to individuals, businesses, golf, tennis and garden club groups.
  • Conference Facilities – There are more than 96,000 square feet of meeting space at Callaway Gardens. Just the right size for almost any group or occasion.

RESTAURANTS:

Dining at Callaway Gardens is certainly an enjoyable portion of your experience. There are numerous restaurants to enjoy and satisfy the taste of most any appetite.

  • The Gardens Restaurant's porch overlooks the beautiful Mountain Creek Lake and the Lake View number 10 island green and serpentine bridge. The menu offers organic and upscale items for all palates.
  • The Gardens Country Store's Country Kitchen is famous for its breakfast and luncheon entrée. Don't miss this one!
    The Garden's Restaurant
  • The Plant Room at the Mountain Creek Inn has always been popular for its bountiful buffets and especially the themed Thursday Fiesta Night, Friday Night Seafood Buffet and Saturday night Italian Buffet.
  • Other places to dine include Discovery Café and Rockin' Robin's Malt Shop and Pizzeria (open seasonally).

Other recreational facilities include a tennis center, fitness center and swimming pools.

For the golfer and traveler seeking a place to enjoy great golf and beautiful surroundings, Callaway Gardens is at the top of my list. But then, how can I ever forget the place where I enjoyed my first round of golf?

So, when you are ready to see the magnolias, get a glimpse of the azaleas, see wild turkeys, and play two great golf courses, visit Callaway Resort & Gardens. To reserve your tee time or inquire about golf packages, call 1-800-225-5292.

HOW TO GET THERE:

Located off Interstate-85 and Interstate-185, on Georgia Highway 18 and U.S. 27 in Pine Mountain, Ga. Sixty minutes southwest of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and 30 minutes north of Columbus, Georgia.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: CLICK HERE FOR A SHORT YOUTUBE VIDEO
ABOUT CALLAWAY RESORT & GARDENS

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Callaway Resort & Gardens
17800 US Hwy 27
Pine Mountain, GA 31822
Website:
www.callawaygardens.com
Phone: 706-663-2281
E-mail:
info@callawaygardens.com

For Reservations inquiries:
Toll Free: 1-800-225-5292
E-mail:
reservations@callawaygardens.com
Fax: 706-663-6812