The Great Waters course at Reynolds Lake Oconee community in Georgia, USA, will reopen on 25 October following a comprehensive renovation by Nicklaus Design.
“The entire course was rebuilt from the ground up, only some of the large drainage and cart paths were retained,” said Chad Goetz, design associate at Nicklaus Design. “The entire course was reshaped to give a more natural feel and increase visibility.
“Jack was very clear from the start he didn't want to completely reinvent the golf course, as the course was very well received, and he felt the bones of his original design was very strong.”
The course, which was originally designed by Nicklaus in 1992, closed in June 2018 for Heritage Links to begin construction work. Grassing finished in June 2019.
“Great Waters is built on a spectacular piece of property,” said Goetz. “Besides working hard to enhance playability and strategy where possible, we really worked on enhancing the beauty of the course. The renovation resulted in being able to open the view of the lake on holes nine, eleven and thirteen. We simplified the look and shaping of the course where possible to ensure that the land and lake were the stars of the show. The course is meant to complement and enhance the landscape, not dominate it.
“I think members and guests will find a course that feels familiar while also being completely new and fresh. Thanks to modern materials and construction techniques, the course will see better daily playing conditions. The greens have slightly more movement and some interesting new pin positions that will add interest. Golfers will certainly notice and appreciate the wider playing areas and enhanced views.”
“Members will certainly notice the new eighth hole,” said Goetz. “This long par three was completely redesigned and now features a semi-punchbowl element that is well suited for a long shot. Players can also use the contours in the green to feed their ball from the right side of the green around to the left side of the green behind a bunker.
“The tee shot on the par-four ninth was redesigned to open the view of the lake and soften the landing area. A handful of other green complexes were adjusted.”
New tees have increased the range of total yardage, with the course now playable from just under 4,500 to nearly 7,500 yards. New forward tees have been introduced, allowing golfers to play from just under 4,500 yards.
Goetz said: “The course is routed through heavy forest in places, and the trees over time had grown inward resulting in heavy shade and much narrower playing areas. A tree removal program was undertaken, and we were able to return the playing areas back to their original widths. This will dramatically help reduce maintenance and increase playability.”
The design firm worked with a team that included lead shaper Cliff Hamilton, Reynolds Lake Oconee’s director of agronomy Lane Singleton, and course superintendent Brandon Hayes.
The renovation has included the installation of a new irrigation system and extensive drainage. Tees and fairways were regrassed with Zeon Zoysia, rough with TifTuf bermuda and greens with TifEagle.