Champions Retreat - Island golf course - 4th hole
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Champions Retreat - Island golf course - 4th hole
Laid out near the Savannah River, Champions Retreat is an Augusta-worthy experience accessible to the public during the Masters. Pictured is the par-4 fourth on the Island nine. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Images
Champions Retreat - Island golf course - no. 2
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Champions Retreat - Island golf course - no. 2
The no. 1 handicap hole on the Island Course at Champions Retreat is the 468-yard, par-4 second. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Champions Retreat - Island golf course - no. 1
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Champions Retreat - Island golf course - no. 1
A large bunker guards the right of the green (there's on on the left, too) of the par-4 first hole on the Island Course at Champions Retreat in Evans, Georgia. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Champions Retreat - Bluff golf course - no. 9
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Champions Retreat - Bluff golf course - no. 9
The ninth on the Bluff Course at Champions Retreat is a good risk-reward par 5. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Champions Retreat - Bluff golf course - no. 8
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Champions Retreat - Bluff golf course - no. 8
Possibly the most stunning of an impressive group of par 3s at Champions Retreat, here's the view from the back tee on the Bluff's eighth hole, which is 227 yards. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Champions Retreat - Bluff golf course - no. 6
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Champions Retreat - Bluff golf course - no. 6
One of the prettiest and most peaceful holes at Champions Retreat is the short, par-4 sixth on the Bluff Course. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Champions Retreat - Bluff golf course - no. 5
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Champions Retreat - Bluff golf course - no. 5
Hit a good tee shot from the proper tee, and the par-5 fifth on Champions Retreat's Bluff Course can be reached in two. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Champions Retreat - Bluff golf course - no. 4
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Champions Retreat - Bluff golf course - no. 4
Getting it around the corner is the key to success on the no. 1 handicap hole on the Bluff Course at Champions Retreat. From the back tee, it's 467 yards. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Champions Retreat - Bluff golf course - no. 3
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Champions Retreat - Bluff golf course - no. 3
It's mostly about hitting a good tee shot on the uphill, dogleg-left, par-4 third on the Bluff Course to set up a good approach. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Champions Retreat - Bluff golf course - no. 1
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Champions Retreat - Bluff golf course - no. 1
Jack Nicklaus starts out with a straightforward par 4 on the Bluff Course at 27-hole Champions Retreat in Evans, Georgia. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Champions Retreat - Island golf course - no. 3
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Champions Retreat - Island golf course - no. 3
Another good risk-reward par 5 is the third on Champions Retreat's Island golf course, where water protects the green. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Champions Retreat - Island golf course - no. 4
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Champions Retreat - Island golf course - no. 4
The "broccoli" tree is the target off the tee of the par-4 fourth hole on the Island Course at Champions Retreat in Evans, Georgia. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Champions Retreat - Island golf course - no. 6
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Champions Retreat - Island golf course - no. 6
Another lovely par 3 at Champions Retreat: the sixth on the Arnold Palmer-designed Island golf course. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Champions Retreat - Island golf course - no. 7
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Champions Retreat - Island golf course - no. 7
A huge bunker guards the bunker on the drivable, par-4 seventh hole on the Island golf course at Champions Retreat in Evans, Georgia. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Champions Retreat - Island golf course - no. 8
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Champions Retreat - Island golf course - no. 8
The last par 3 on Champions Retreat's Island Course features large boulders separating the hazard from the green. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Champions Retreat - Island golf course - no. 9
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Champions Retreat - Island golf course - no. 9
Like the Bluff Course, Arnold Palmer's Island Course also ends with a par 5, but it's quite different. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor

A near-Augusta experience: Golf at Champions Retreat in Evans, Georgia

EVANS, Ga. -- For 51 weeks out of the year, 27-hole Champions Retreat is a private club. But during the Masters in April, this impeccably conditioned course with perfect bentgrass greens is open to the public at a premium price..,

Located just 20 minutes or so from famed Augusta National, there are three nines at Champions Retreat, designed by Masters champions Jack Nicklaus ( Bluff ), Arnold Palmer ( Island ) and Gary Player ( Creek ). Between the three of them, they have won the Masters 13 times as part of their 34 major victories.

It was, in fact, Player's idea in 1999 to recruit Nicklaus and Palmer to design the course at the club, located just outside of Augusta on the Savannah River. With three different topographies to choose from, each nine is distinctly different.

The Bluff has more elevated tees and pronounced doglegs.

The Island is flanked by the Savannah River on one side the Little River on the other. One of the most beautiful spots on the entire property is the stretch between the fourth and sixth holes, where the Savannah is in full view.

And finally, the Creek plays through wetlands, hardwoods and around a large lake.

Pictured here are Champions Retreat's Bluff and Island golf courses. The Creek was shut down for renovations, but will be open in plenty of time for the 2017 Masters.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.
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A near-Augusta experience: Golf at Champions Retreat in Evans, Georgia
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