Reynolds Lake Oconee Resort -- Golf, recreation and the royal treatment at The Kingdom

By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Photos by Jeffrey A. Rendall

GREENSBORO, GA – Think about it – what makes a great golf destination?

Ask a hundred people the question and you might get a hundred different answers. Some avid golf nuts may only need a great golf course and they’re satisfied. Others require a great deal more amenities such as a first-rate place to stay and outstanding after-golf atmosphere and cuisine.

Still others desire something in addition to golf to spend time – spa treatments, outdoor sports and maybe even some within-driving-distance attractions such as professional sports events or touring opportunities. Hiking, anyone? To these folks a “golf destination” is more like a total vacation experience. An afternoon on the links is just a small part of a day away from home.

The Ritz-Carlton hotel on the shore of Lake Oconee.

If any or all of these options are what you have in mind then Reynolds Lake Oconee (about halfway between Atlanta and Augusta in northern Georgia) is your place. It goes without saying the golf product is virtually unparalleled there, with six championship 18-hole courses designed by the who’s who of the golf design industry waiting to greet you.

On our four-day visit alone we played a golf course designed by Bob Cupp (The Landing), Tom Fazio (The National), the “Open doctor” Rees Jones (The Oconee) and 6-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus (Great Waters). Each layout would be considered an anchor course for any golf destination, and the fact that there’s so many great links within a short drive of each other at Reynolds Lake Oconee is extraordinary. To my recollection probably only Hilton Head, Pinehurst and maybe Williamsburg, Virginia – rivals the variety and quality of Reynolds Lake Oconee within a cozy geographic area.

As the resort name suggests there’s also Lake Oconee to consider and all that comes with it. The Reynolds people indicated there’s more than 350 miles of “majestic” shoreline on the lake. One morning of our visit we took advantage of the chance to take out a pontoon boat to discover for ourselves some of those miles of shoreline.

Not having driven a boat in years it was a very welcome refresher to the on-the-water experience. When taking-in the sheer beauty of the surroundings together with the amenities accessible on the lake – and it’s no wonder why Reynolds is such a popular place to live. The lake itself contains what appears to be dozens of inlets where we witnessed many locals out fishing, water skiing or just taking a relaxing cruise.

From our deck we could see players take on the par 3 11th hole at The Landing.

One bit of advice – know how your boat’s GPS map works before you plot your course! After setting out we decided to simply cruise south on the lake, turning around to head back in the large bay down at the far end towards the dam. We ended up taking the wrong route on the return…no worries, there was plenty of time to correct the error (once we’d realized it)!

Because of the golf-heavy itinerary on our trip there wasn’t much time to sample many of the other recreational offerings at the resort. According to the Reynolds folks, there’s the Sandy Creek Sporting Grounds, an award-winning tennis center, swimming pools, pedestrian trails, wellness campus, and full-service marinas to facilitate water sports.

There are also a variety of overnight accommodations to choose from, ranging from private rentals that include luxury resort condominiums and cottages, or The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, a 251-room lakefront resort and spa named a 2016 AAA Five Diamond Lodging and 2015 Forbes Four-Star resort.

Dining is available at ten distinctive culinary venues – though as a family we decided to have our meals back at the cottage for convenience…and to save money!

We stayed at The Landing Cottages and ours overlooked the par three 11th hole’s green on the Bob Cupp designed masterpiece The Landing. The cottage itself had four bedrooms (including a very large master bedroom) and enough living space for a fairly large group – not only can you get away from it all at Reynolds, you can entertain once you get there! The cottage was generously supplied with all the comforts of home (several large screen TV’s, a beautiful back porch deck and plenty of space to relax after a day outdoors).

Most of what the resort offers was within a 15-minute drive of our front door. There was also a conveniently located grocery store for basic needs.

Of course no trip to Reynolds Lake Oconee would be complete without a visit to The Reynolds Kingdom of Golf presented by TaylorMade. Located adjacent to The Oconee course the Kingdom is as “royal” a fitting and learning experience as you’ll find anywhere.

I signed-up for a driver fitting from longtime club fitter Noel English, a friendly – and patient – gentleman with a plethora of experience working with amateurs and pros alike. English has spent time with TaylorMade staffer Justin Rose, among others, and shared several interesting stories of his years working with all sorts of people from first-timers to the best in golf. Professionals need to dial-in their equipment with the latest technology – and the Kingdom has it.

Earlier this year (2018) Nick Bradley joined the Reynolds Lake Oconee team as Director of The Kingdom of Golf presented by TaylorMade.

Originally from London, Bradley—who is also a successful motivational speaker and business executive trainer—has lived in the United States since 2005. Bradley’s career began in 1994 with the David Leadbetter Golf Academy. He served as Leadbetter’s European Director of Golf Instruction until coming to the states.

“To technically improve a golfer is relatively simple; we know the code,” says Bradley. “What drives me is contributing to a team environment and the individual's growth.”

The instruction curriculum — which integrates Reynolds Kingdom of Golf teaching and coaching staff — includes golf fitness training and complete swing and body analysis. Two fully enclosed teaching studios are equipped with the latest in technology.

My fitting took place outside on a warm but tolerable August morning. According to English there are many folks who don’t mind scheduling their fitting sessions in the heat of the day, even during the hot months – though I would imagine the launch monitor numbers would reflect fatigue after striking a healthy number of balls!

Today’s fitting tools are about as high-tech as it gets with state-of-the-art cameras that literally track the spin of the golf ball (the practice balls have lines on them). It’s a cool “gizmo” that every golf nut would appreciate having in his own backyard if he could afford it.

English was instructive as well as proficient. He says at The Kingdom they’re primarily concerned with helping all players take advantage of everything today’s technology has to offer. And by the looks of it, there’s a lot to choose from.

During our lengthy chat (you can only hit so many balls, right?) English talked a great deal about how equipment can and should be used to grow the game of golf. By helping golfers play better they’ll enjoy golf more as well as hopefully cut back on the time it takes to play a round – isn’t that what it’s really all about?

To sum up, it would be hard to imagine someone not enjoying a trip to Reynolds Lake Oconee. There’s more than enough there to satisfy even the most difficult to please vacationers. Originally established in 1988 as Reynolds Plantation, Reynolds Lake Oconee is located roughly 90 miles from Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

It goes without saying Reynolds Lake Oconee deserves consideration for your next big golf trip – it’s what a “golf destination” should be.


Reynolds Lake Oconee
Greensboro, Georgia  30642

For more information about Reynolds Lake Oconee, call (877) 809-3324 or visit

Vacation guests at Reynolds can choose from individual cottages within the private gates, while enjoying a variety of amenities. Accommodations also are available at The Ritz-Carlton.  A variety of vacation packages are available.

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