The Creek Club at Reynolds Lake Oconee: A Visual Masterpiece
When I visited Reynolds Lake Oconee I was excited to experience all that it had to offer.
And for as much as I was looking forward to experiencing the renowned Great Waters course, it was a lesser-known course I was secretly even more excited about.
What is it?
The Creek Club.
The Creek Club is a 2007 Jim Engh design that is the most under-the-radar course at Reynolds Lake Oconee.
Why is it under the radar?
Because, unlike its five sister courses, The Creek Club is the only course in the Reynolds Lake Oconee community that’s fully private.
Because of that, it doesn’t get quite the attention that the courses with resort play do.
But when you tee it up there? You’ll experience a visual treat rarely seen anywhere else.
Interested in learning more? Let’s check out the course.
First Impressions of The Creek Club
I just said the Creek is a visual treat rarely seen anywhere else – but there is an exception.
That exception just so happens to be one of my favorite golf courses on the planet: The Golf Club at Black Rock in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Jim Engh has built his reputation as the go-to course architect for developments on mountainous, or hard to build on property.
You see this at Black Rock where he literally carved par 3s into the side of rocky ridges, and built par 5s down cavernous canyons.
The result is one of the most fun collections of golf holes I’ve ever played.
And throughout the round it kind of feels like you’re playing “Black Rock East.”
As you might expect based on Jim’s other projects, the Creek Club has the most severe elevation changes of all the courses at Reynolds – by a long shot.
From the moment I pulled up to the course, I could tell this place was going to be exactly what I’d hoped it would be: fun.
The course is stunning. The criss-cross mow patterns across its zoysia turf only adds to the views.
Whether you’re looking over the wild 18th hole from the clubhouse perched above it, or standing on the 1st tee – you just feel like you’re in for an exciting 4 hours of golf.
And the good news? You are.
The Front 9 at The Creek Club
The opening hole gives you a little bit of everything that you’ll find on the course.
It’s a par 5 featuring a tee shot from an elevated tee to a wide fairway below.
A solid drive will give you a risk/reward opportunity if you want to go for it in two.
If you elect to layup, you’ll have a wedge shot to a tricky green perched up on a hill with a bit of an amphitheater bowl surrounding it – one of Engh’s signature design elements.
It’s not a tough shot, but land short? You’re 40 yards back down the hill.
Unfortunately, my approach was a couple feet short. Down the hill I go.
But the round started with a bang when I chipped it up and in for a birdie. Although due to the severity of the slope, I didn’t even get to see it drop.
There’s a huge variety of holes at The Creek Club, short holes, long holes, split fairways, uphill, downhill – you name it, it’s here.
I call this adventure golf, and I love it.
The second hole has rumpled fairways, which is a recurring theme here. You’re not likely to find a flat lie many places on the course.
A good drive leaves you a wedge into the green, but slice it right and you’ll have a blind approach to a green that feels like it’s as deep as a football field – because it nearly is.
The only thing I’ve seen like it in golf is the wonderful 4th at Spyglass Hill.
Besides the wild look of the Creek Club, its most defining feature is its wild greens.
Crazy mounds, curves, funnels – Creek has it all. The purist might look at the greens and scoff. But the typical golfer who just likes to have a good time? They’ll have a smile on their face the whole round.
The 3rd is one of my favorite holes on the course. A pair of strategically placed bunkers in the middle of the fairway force you to be smart off the tee. A well-struck driver will leave you a short, yet precarious, wedge shot over the “creek” where the course gets its name.
However, an iron to the left side of the fairway will give you the best angle on your approach, despite being a little bit of a longer shot.
The course has a nice variety of par 3s that vary from extremely challenging to hole in one magnets.
The 4th is the first one-shotter. It features more signature Engh elements with an amphitheater green, mounded bunkering, and a very undulating green.
If the 5th were a par 5, it’d be a spitting image of the 5th at Black Rock:
Here’s the 5th at Creek:
The 8th throws you some Tobacco Road vibes:
And you really get a sense of the elevation of the course when you take a look at the 9th hole from the green:
The Back Nine at The Creek Club
The back 9 immediately hits you with my favorite stretch of holes on the property in 10-13.
The par 4 10th forces you to make a similar decision as you did on #3: try and clear the bunkers for the shortest approach possible, or lay it up left for the best angle, but a longer shot.
I had no idea that Georgia was a place that got tornados. But a couple years ago, a tornado tore through the back 9 at The Creek Club. Specifically, it took off to the right of the par 3 11th:
It then took down some trees that used to be in the fairway of the wonderful par 5, 12th.
Fortunately, while the holes may have a bit of a different look to them now, they’re still fantastic golf holes.
You take one look at The Creek Club and next to describing it as “beautiful,” if you had one word, you might say “intimidating.”
But for as scary as the course looks, it’s actually more friendly than you might think.
Nowhere is this more apparent than the par 3, 13th.
The green is a giant S-curve, which makes for some of the craziest putts in all of Reynolds.
But if you know where to hit the ball, the green complex has a tendency to funnel balls right down to the hole.
In fact, I was told this hole gives up more hole-in-ones than just about any other hole in the country, with an average of over 200 a year.
The 18th is one of the most unique holes you’ll ever play.
Aside from a tee shot that drops over 100 feet to the fairway below, it’s also one of the only holes I can think of that has three separate greens. (The 9th on the River Course at Blackwolf Run is the only other that comes to mind off-hand.)
We had the left green position which is the most challenging of the three, but each alters the strategy of how you’d play it.
The 18th is a hole to look forward to on a course that’s full of fun holes.
Final Thoughts on The Creek Club
I’ve made it no secret, I love fun golf courses – and if you were to sum up The Creek Club in one word, “fun” would be a good one.
The zoysia grass is a joy to play off of. But beware, it can tend to be a little slippery for carts. We even referred to this phenomenon as the “zoysia shuffle.” It can almost feel like you’re dancing around the fairway even when there’s no moisture in sight.
I will say, The Creek Club isn’t a course I’d want to play every day. It’s extremely hilly, quirky, and is next to impossible to walk.
The good news for Platinum Members of Reynolds is that they have 5 other courses to choose from that are included in their membership.
So having a course like this that combines unique features, beautiful design, and fun golf holes is icing on the cake of one of the most complete membership offerings I’ve ever seen.
The clubhouse at The Creek Club is fantastic as well. The views over-looking 18 are really special, and it feels like a vibrant private club.
Throw in an excellent range and practice facilities, and you’ve got a very intriguing package.
Yes, diehard golf architecture critics will find things to complain about.
And you know what? That’s fine.
Because while they’re busy critiquing the ridiculous greens or up and down routing – the rest of the members and lucky guests (like me) will be grinning ear to ear while they hit some of the most fun golf shots of their life.
If there’s one thing I learned after 4 days at Reynolds Lake Oconee, it’s that the place was built to cater to a relaxed lifestyle and people who want to have fun. And if you can’t have fun playing the Creek?
Then I’m not sure you’re someone I’d like to golf with.
If you get the chance to visit The Creek Club at Reynolds, I highly suggest you take the opportunity. It’ll be a round you won’t soon forget.