Great Waters, which celebrates its 27th anniversary this year, will receive a total turf replacement, new greens, bunkers, tees, water features and irrigation systems, as well as cart path replacement. Drainage and other elements of the course’s infrastructure, plus an assessment of the trees, and the practice facility are included in this comprehensive reinvention of the community’s premier golf course. The Nicklaus layout has stood the test of time and will remain loyal to the original design.
Work is to begin in June 2018 with an expected re-opening in fall 2019. This restoration is the latest in an ever-widening list of improvements made to the golf courses, clubhouses and other facilities since MetLife’s investment in Reynolds Lake Oconee in 2012.
“Our desire is to keep the course true to Mr. Nicklaus’s original vision while modernizing the course where appropriate - and prudent - and adding length where available,” said Rabun Neal, president of Reynolds Lake Oconee.
Great Waters is a dramatic layout that offers some of the most breathtaking golf scenery in the Southeast. The parkland-style front nine plays over rolling hills and through thick forest, with water in play on six holes, most notably the par-4 fifth, where a creek crisscrosses the fairway and cuts in front of the green; a stone wall and the Nicklaus Bridge add to the hole’s splendor. The gorgeous ninth is the first of the lake holes, the water edging in along the right side of the green.
The back nine is a completely different experience, as the final eight holes are on Lake Oconee. Playing on the lake-encircled peninsula, the back-nine holes include the short par-4 11th, where the green juts into the lake, causing left-side hole locations to make the flagstick appear to be floating. The par-3 14th is one of the most photographed holes in the Southeast, its green sitting along the Lake Oconee shoreline.
“The first time I went to Reynolds, I knew we had the potential to have a great golf course,” Nicklaus said. “I think we found it then, and now more than a quarter of a century later, a wonderful golf experience remains but is in need of a little updating. It’s one of the really great pieces of property with which I have ever had the experience to work.”
Reynolds Lake Oconee has 117 holes of golf, all designed by legendary golf architects, including Nicklaus, Rees Jones and Tom Fazio.