East Lake Golf Club (Private)
2575 Alston Drive SE, Atlanta
STAFF: Rick Burton is the Director of Golf; Chad Parker is the Golf Professional.
PAR/YARDAGE: East Lake plays to a par of 72 with three sets of tees: Gold (7,242 yards); Blue (6,699) and White (6,286).
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: 75.3/140 (Gold); 72.6/134 (Blue); 70.4/129 (White).
ABOUT THE COURSE: The renovation work by golf course architect Rees Jones restored most of the charm of the original layout by Donald Ross, while effectively blending a more modern feel to the course, which was in sad shape just 15 years ago. Jones’ effort has drawn rave reviews from the PGA Tour players who have competed in the Tour Championship, now a permanent fixture at the course, which also hosted the 2001 U.S. Amateur Championship. The pros play East Lake as a par 70, with the 5th and 10th holes converted to par 4s. For the average player, East Lake is a tremendous challenge, especially when the Bermuda rough guarding the narrow fairways is thick and penal. Other than a handful of holes, the length is not overly daunting from the blue tees, but there are a few holes that are more of a test than most of us can pass, even from the blues. Length is not much of concern, however, for the Tour Championship field, even the 520-yard, par-4 fifth.
East Lake fits the description of a course that places demands on every facet of the game. The narrow fairways and gnarly Bermuda place a high premium on accuracy, with the rough also a serious presence around the well-protected greens, which are mostly of average size but have more than enough slope and are typically very smooth and extremely quick come tournament time. The change to an earlier date will likely result in the putting surfaces being softer and a little slower than they are in early November, which could produce some lower than usual scores for players who consistently find the fairways off the tee. Still, East Lake should provide a great test for the game’s best players, with its impressive list of champions that include names like Mickelson, Singh, Goosen and Scott a testament to its quality. The layout includes two diverse but equally wonderful par 3s (the island green 6th and brutal 18th), a rare sub-500-yard par 5 (15) and a demanding pair of par 4s (16 and 17) that make for a tough finish with the tournament on the line.