GREENSBORO, Ga. -- The golf courses Jack Nicklaus designed in the 1990s tended to be bogey-inducing bullies rather than playable buddies. Great Waters at Reynolds Lake Oconee -- his 1992 stunner situated along Lake Oconee halfway between Atlanta and Augusta -- broke the mold.
Maybe it was the remarkable setting that softened The Golden Bear's mean streak, because Great Waters is purely exhilarating and fun to play. Difficult holes -- such as the 422-yard, par-4 no. 5 -- don't define the routing. They merely enhance it, taking a back seat to a collection of scenic lake holes among the best in America. Georgia's second-largest lake makes a grand introduction on the par-4 ninth by guarding the green. After the 10th hole, the waves on the water accompany golfers the rest of their journey.
Certain greens, such as the 11th and 16th, sit at land's end. The par 3s at No. 14 and No. 17 require carries over watery coves. The 540-yard 18th ends any tournament with an epic dose of risk-reward. Great Waters isn't Jack's ultimate masterpiece, but it's close.
Not long after Great Waters opened, it hosted the Andersen Consulting World Championship of Golf from 1995-97 and paved the way for the WGC Match Play, which is now sponsored by Dell and held at Austin Country Club.
Reaching Great Waters from the National Cottages or the Ritz-Carlton takes about twenty minutes by car. In the summer of 2018, Reynolds is planning a major renovation project to Great Waters with Nicklaus Design that is scheduled to close the course for over a year.