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Reynolds Plantation - Experiencing is Believing

By Philip Sokol
Director of Operations

Greensboro, GA (Sports Network) - The guys want to play golf, the girls want to be pampered, and the family wants the beach. Ah, yes, the quandary that awaits. This country has so much to offer, from Myrtle Beach to Florida, California to Hawaii and everything in between. It doesn't matter if it's just the guys, gals or family. I've got it, the ultimate retreat! Southern hospitality at it's best, Reynolds Plantation in the Peach State - Georgia.

Reynolds Plantation is southern hospitality at it's best.
You've seen the advertisements in numerous golf and residential publications over the years, but you probably thought, "It's in the middle of the state, no beach and little to offer." Let me set the record straight. Reynolds Plantation is the ultimate destination for all parties concerned. From the serious golfer, to the vacationing family, or the ladies looking to relax. This is it! A year-round destination, with temperatures in the 50s in the winter, to 80s and 90s in the summer, and sensational 60s in the fall.

They say that location is everything, and Reynolds Plantation is situated in the heart of Georgia, just 75 miles east from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and roughly the same distance, west of Augusta, right off Interstate 20.

Let's start out with my forte, golf. Currently, 99 holes of resort golf are available, designed by some of the best in the business -- Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus, Rees Jones and Bob Cupp. Throw in a soon-to-be-opened, members-only venue crafted by Jim Engh and you've hit the motherlode. It comes as no surprise that Reynolds Plantation has been named the "Best of the Best" golf community by the Robb Report.

Cupp, along with PGA Tour players Fuzzy Zoeller and Hubert Green, designed the first track at Reynolds, the Plantation Course, back in 1988. When first opened, the layout garnered ranking among Golf Magazine's "Ten Best New Courses." The shortest of the courses, the Plantation features a natural, rolling terrain with water coming into play on 14 holes. Bring plenty of balls.

Great Waters is one of the most challenging courses at Reynolds Plantation.
The incomparable Nicklaus got the call for the next course, aptly named Great Waters. Opened in 1992, this track produces some of the most beautiful views of Lake Oconee, not to mention one of the most challenging of the courses at Reynolds Plantation. Nine holes run alongside the lake, including the spectacular 18th. For three seasons, the Great Waters was the site of the Andersen Consulting World Championship, the precursor to the WGC - Match Play Championship.

The one and only Tom Fazio was next to design at Reynolds Plantation. The National features three distinct nine hole layouts. Dense forests of hardwoods, pines and dogwoods, along with beautiful vegetation make this course a visual delight. Elevation changes galore dot the venue, including the uphill second on the Cove nine and the roller-coaster sixth on the Bluff.

"Open Doctor" Rees Jones completed the quartet of courses with the longest (7,393 yards) and highest-rated (75.5) track, The Oconee. Visually stunning, The Oconee was nominated for one of the "Best New Upscale Courses" by Golf Digest in 2003. Strategic in every sense of the word, Jones designed a layout that's not only for the best of players, but with five sets of tee markers, it's playable for the opposite end of the spectrum. The Oconee also garnered awards for women, ranking it among the top-50 courses by Golf For Women Magazine.

The Oconee also garnered awards for women, ranking it among the top-50 courses by Golf For Women Magazine.
Recently added to the Reynolds lineup is the first golf course built on Lake Oconee, Reynolds Landing. Designed by Bob Cupp, the course was purchased by Reynolds Plantation in 2005 and features a robust, 7,000 yard-plus, Scottish- style venue. Crafted in 1986, the course features water on 11 holes, including the exciting fourth and fifth holes which border Lake Oconee.

When all is said and done, The Creek Club, the latest course to join the Reynolds Plantation fold, will become one of the most exciting courses in the area. Mostly known for his designs out west, Engh has brought an incredible flair and character to the topography. Many of the tributaries of Richland Creek flow through the layout creating one of the most unique venues, including the robust finishing hole, which possesses three separate greens.

It also helps to have one of GOLF Magazine's Top 100 Instructors in America on staff. Highly-acclaimed teaching professional and author Charlie King is the Director of Instruction at Reynolds Plantation. King is now designing and implementing innovative short game and full swing schools for individuals, groups and corporate outings at the new Reynolds Golf Academy.

The centerpiece of the entire community is the sensational, Ritz-Carlton Lodge. Secluded in the towering pines and oaks by the shores of Lake Oconee, the Lodge is decorated in deep earthy colors, and it overlooks the gently glowing waters of Georgia's second largest lake.

Reynolds Plantation is the ultimate destination for all parties concerned.
Without getting into the history of the property, let's first focus on the 251 luxurious guest rooms and suites, complete with all of the southern comforts. Featherbeds with Egyptian cotton linens and 100% goosedown and non-allergenic foam pillows. Marble and granite bath with separate tub and shower, along with plush terry robes and bath essentials. There are also 22 executive suites, 33 Ritz-Carlton Club Level rooms, one Ritz-Carlton suite, six cottages, and the 5,400-square foot Presidential House with four master bedroom suites. Conde' Nast Traveler just named Reynolds Plantation on its Gold List as one of "The World's Best Places to Stay."

Oh, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. From your head to your toes, the pampering is complete, as guests can now lavish in the state-of-the-art Mobil Four-Star Spa. Once thought of as a retreat for the ladies while the men played, the 26,000 square-foot enclave is now enjoyed by both genders. Imagine one of the most popular therapies, the Floating Cloud Facial, as guests exfoliate for 85 minutes while skin-refining products bring you back in time. The Spa now features Prada Beauty facial treatments to rejuvenate your fatigued skin. In all, 19 treatment rooms, a couple's suite, separate gentlemen and ladies' lounges, and fitness and wellness centers. From warm soaking whirlpools, saunas and steam rooms to body treatments that will soften your soul. The Ritz-Carlton Spa at Reynolds is invigorating. It stands to reason that Travel + Leisure Golf rated the Spa as the second-best in the Southeast.

Overlooking Lake Oconee, the Infinity Pool is a surefire way to wash away the rigors of life.
We've only just begun to scratch the surface. Along with activities for mom and dad, Reynolds Plantation features the award-winning Ritz Kids program. Designed for ages five to 12, the activities include full and half-day outings, as well as Kids Night Out twice a week with certified and trained counselors. Nature scavenger hunts, fishing, learning how to repel with rope, swimming, boating, arts and crafts, and movie night are just some of the thrilling events available.

When there's 80 miles of shoreline, the water activities are endless. Canoeing, kayaking, freshwater fishing excursions, waterskiing, paddleboats, and captained pontoon boat tours should "wet" your appetite. But, when it comes to relaxation, it's the Infinity Pool that hits the spot. Overlooking Lake Oconee, the Infinity Pool is a surefire way to wash away the rigors of life. The endless supply of frozen peaches brought to you by the attentive staff as you linger in the water is not too bad either.

If you're not into golf or water activities, which would be hard to believe, there's jogging, biking and hiking trails, tennis, horseback riding and for the real sportsman, skeet and trap shooting.

Food, food, glorious food. The meals at the Ritz-Carlton Lodge are unique and delightful. The cream of the crop is Georgia's, the signature restaurant at Reynolds. Specializing in Southern cuisine, the meals are made with a gourmet touch using the regional touches of pecans, peaches and of course, Vidalia onions. Your meal is exquisitely prepared, whether it be Herb Crusted Colorado Lamb to Savannah Diver Scallops, topped off by Banana Cranberry Cobbler, you'll savor each morsel under the rustic, timber ceilings alongside the stacked stone fireplace.

If it's a classic steak you're in the mood for, look no further than the Linger Longer Bar & Grill at the Oconee Clubhouse. The wood-burning grill churns out the most tender of Filet and the tastiest New York Strip, all while you overlook the Rees Jones-designed layout. By the way, the Persimmon-Grand Marnier Creme Brulee is to die for.

Gaby's By The Lake is for the casual diner, who just wants to chill by the Lake and take in the beauty of the property.
Gaby's By The Lake is for the casual diner, who just wants to chill by the Lake and take in the beauty of the property. It's pizza your way or the Lake Country Po' Boy and everything in between. Heck, if you catch it, they'll cook it. Top it off with Bananas Foster or the Chocolate Brownie Stack and you're set for the night.

For the kids (and us big kids), it's s'mores at night overlooking the lake as the moon glistens off the water. What better way to complete your day, by sitting in Adirondack chairs around the campfire, sliding down s'mores and sipping on a cocktail.

Just as important to the process of deciding where to travel is the service of the resort. Go no further than the staff at the Ritz-Carlton. Forget the original saying, it should be, "Service makes the heart grow fonder." The incomparable crew makes your journey one of the most memorable you'll ever experience.

Reynolds Plantation has taken vacationing to the next level. Check out some of the exciting packages available. From the sticks and stones to heal your bones experience to the TaylorMade Performance Lab package. That's right, Reynolds Plantation is one of just three facilities in the world to feature the TaylorMade Performance Lab. This is cutting edge technology, with an emphasis on swing analysis and custom club-fitting.

There has to be a reason why AAA designated Reynolds Plantation as a Five Diamond Resort. Find out for yourself at:

I can't take it. All of this has given me the itch to go back. See y'all real soon on Lake Oconee at the unparalleled Reynolds Plantation.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Philip Sokol at psokol@sportsnetwork.com.
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