By Mike Blum
Cobb and Cherokee Counties feature a diverse mix of daily fee options that include one of the finest municipal courses you’ll play to one of the shortest but most entertaining regulation length courses in the state.
Here’s our look at daily fee golf in the Northwest metro area:
Bradshaw Farm: One of a handful of 27-hole facilities in the metro area, the original 18 opened in the mid 1990s, with a third nine added in 2001. The nines are designated Red, White and Blue, with the latter the newest of the three. The new nine meshes nicely with either nine from the original 18, and is comparable in both length and difficulty, with all three opening with a par 4 featuring a visually appealing downhill tee shot.
All three nines include some holes with modest amounts of elevation changes, along with holes in a valley setting. The red nine (the original front side) includes a strong trio of par 4s which are offset by a relatively short and inviting pair of par 3s and par 5s. The white nine may be the strongest of the three, with plenty of hazards in play on the excellent stretch of valley holes midway through what was the original back nine. The blue nine also has an abundance of hazards in play. Like the original 18, the newer nine is pretty generous off the tee, with the greens complexes on the gentle side.
BridgeMill: One of the last courses designed by one of golf’s most distinctive architects, the Desmond Muirhead creation has been among the metro area’s most popular semi-private facilities since it opened in the late 1990s. Muirhead was assisted in the design by former Masters champion Larry Mize, with the quality layout including five nicely spaced sets of tees that accommodate a wide range of skill levels.
Muirhead has provided comfortable width on most holes, although the perilous par-5 13th is an exception. The course features a decent amount of elevation changes, with the downhill nature of several of the tee shots helping to effectively shorten the overall yardage. The large, undulating putting surfaces are one of the primary challenges, with the design of the greens complexes also producing some demanding approaches and tee shots on the par 3s, the most notable of which is the 16th with its “target” island green.
City Club Marietta: At just over 5,700 yards from the tips, the par-71 layout is short and inviting, but is not as much a pushover as you might think, with some challenging greens complexes and several “short,” uphill par 4s that either play a good bit longer than the yardage or require some serious accuracy off the tee.
The course is one of the most enjoyable in the metro area, giving golfers of modest abilities the chance to hit short iron approaches into a number of holes, and maybe even take a crack at reaching a par 5 in two. With an exception or two, hitting it straight is a must, and few courses will reward accurate players more. However, there are enough hazards in play to keep things interesting, especially on two of the three par 5s, all of which contain some risk/reward elements.
Cobblestone: Consistently included in lists of the country’s top municipal courses, the Cobb County gem offers a serious challenge, but the test is one you will thoroughly enjoy even if your score isn’t quite up to honor roll standards. The course has softened a bit since it opened as the Boulders in the early 1990s, with much of the penal native grass off the fairways gone and the greens not as prominently partitioned as they were almost two decades ago.
With a few exceptions, Cobblestone is neither particularly long nor narrow. But with plenty of trouble in play and some well-designed greens complexes that require a deft short game, you will need all aspects of your game to be on to have a chance to crack Cobblestone’s code. The layout features a terrific mix of holes, with two wonderful short par 4s and several other scenic but dangerous holes that play along Lake Acworth, which helps make the course an aesthetic standout. Lots of memorable holes, some of which you’ll vividly remember for their beauty, others for the damage to your scorecard.
Dogwood: Atlanta’s only “hybrid” course, accessible by the public Monday-Thursday but reserved for the club’s members and their guests Friday-Sunday. Located a bit off the beaten path outside the south Cobb community of Austell, Dogwood has remained relatively anonymous although it’s been around since the late 1960s.
The straightforward layout includes a considerable contrast between the two nines, with the front side offering a number of scoring opportunities with three relatively short and vulnerable par 5s along with some inviting par 4s of modest length. The back nine, however, is significantly longer and challenging (once you get past the short but pesky par-4 10th), with some stout par 4s, two fairly hefty par 3s and just one par 5. The atmosphere is friendly, the setting is low key and the overall experience makes for a pleasant day of golf.
Fairways of Canton: The course opened in 2007, but almost immediately encountered problems, as the original layout was greeted with a nearly unanimous response that it was too difficult and not a lot of fun. The course was closed for a year, but has been made much more player-friendly since re-opening in 2011 thanks to the re-design work of D.J. DeVictor.
The course remains a pretty stout test, but with two long and demanding par 4s now par 5s, Fairways of Canton plays to a more reasonable par of 72. The long and perilous third hole is the last surviving daunting par 4, but there are a number of shorter, more inviting par 4s, as well as a reachable, downhill, par-5 18ththat provides a chance to finish the day on a positive note.
Towne Lake Hills: Like BridgeMill, a well-regarded and successful semi-private facility than has been around since the mid-1990s. The layout, designed by Arthur Hills and Mike Dasher, is a solid test tee to green, ranking as one of the tighter driving courses in the metro area, with its moderate length effectively reduced somewhat by elevated tees.
The hilly terrain represents part of the challenge, with some errant tee shots winding up below the level of the fairway or resulting in an awkward lie on the side of a mound. The greens complexes are not overly demanding, but the putting surfaces are of ample size, inviting opportunities to three-putt from long range. The diverse layout includes a handful of strong par 4s that are not overly long, along with one of Atlanta’s most entertaining par 5s (No. 2) and one of the most daunting – the slightly softened but still demanding 18th.
Woodmont: The first Robert Trent Jones, Jr., design in the state, Woodmont rates with the best daily fee courses in the metro area. With five par 5s and five par 3s, the course offers plenty of scoring opportunities, although the twisting, hazardous 16th rates as one of the most daunting par 5s around. The par 3s are also on the tame side, with the over-water 11th one of the more appealing but pesky short holes you’ll play.
Jones provides a sufficient expanse of fairway to drive the ball, but there are several holes where water down the right side can makes things a tad uncomfortable for the faders/slicers among us. There are hazards in play on about half the holes, which accounts for some stout course rating/slope numbers. Also factoring in are several demanding par 4s, along with some excellent but challenging greens which feature considerable amounts of slope that will put your putting touch to the test.
Executive courses: Fox Creek and Legacy are a pair of excellent, complementary executive courses in Smyrna that are located on adjoining pieces of property. Fox Creek was the metro area’s first executive course, and measures 3,945 yards (par 62) with a nice mix of par 3s and par 4s. The par 4s are on the tight side, with some small greens placing pressure on approach shots, even from short range.
Legacy Golf Links is a par 58, with just four par 4s, all on the short side, and no par 3s of serious length, with some large, rolling greens that are comparable to those at top daily fee facilities in the area. Both courses also feature expansive practice facilities that are typically among the busiest in metro Atlanta.
(Note: Lake Arrowhead and Callahan Links in Cherokee County were included in a previous survey of North Georgia golf courses.)