Since it was extensively renovated and reborn as a daily fee course in the early 1990s, City Club Marietta has been one of the most popular and enjoyable public courses in metro Atlanta.
But the course’s reputation began taking a hit several years ago, as the condition of its once highly-regarded bent grass putting surfaces began to deteriorate. For the last three or so years, the club’s superintendents’ staff fought a losing battle trying to keep the greens in quality condition until the decision was made to kill off the bent grass surfaces and replace them with TifEagle Bermuda.
The new greens were planted after Memorial Day, with the club playing on temporary greens until just before Labor Day. The TifEagle surfaces were in the latter stages of the growing-in process as of mid-September, and according to General Manager Steven Rudd were about “99 percent” at the end of the month.
Rudd says the club’s long time regulars are “thrilled” to again have quality putting surfaces, and City Club Marietta has begun the process of winning back customers who endured the last few years of sub-standard greens conditions.
Because of the limited amount of play during the summer months due to the temporary greens, the rest of the course hasn’t had much traffic, and is also in quality condition tee to green.
That will give City Club Marietta the chance to re-establish itself as one of the most entertaining layouts in metro Atlanta, particularly for golfers who don’t hit the ball tour-length distances.
Golf is supposed to be an enjoyable pastime. But when you’re hitting a succession of fairway woods into 400-plus-yard par 4s and 200-yard par 3s, it doesn’t seem like the same game you watch on the weekends, where tour players hit wedges into 450-yard par 4s, long irons into par 5s and short irons into par 3s.
The average golfer is never going to hit the same clubs into holes as tour players on the 7,000-plus-yard courses that host tour events, but City Club Marietta is one of the rare layouts that provide a similar experience from the back tees.
It is likely the shortest regulation course in the metro area, but its absence of length is more of an asset than a liability, with tree-lined fairways, rolling terrain and large, undulating greens more than compensating for the modest yardage totals.
From the back tees, City Club Marietta measures just 5,721 yards, playing to a par of 71 with just three par 5s, one of which ranks with the best and most demanding par 5s in all of Atlanta.
Some of the holes play shorter than their yardage thanks to elevated tees, most notably the first and 10th holes. But there are several par 4s of modest length that play considerably longer than the numbers on the scorecard because of their decided uphill nature.
The 411-yard opening hole is the only par 4 over 370 yards, with two of the par 5s under 500 and just one of the par 3s longer than 140.
Because of its absence of serious length, City Club Marietta offers the opportunity to post a score better than your average. But if you are unable to hit it straight and solid off the tee, or struggle a bit on some challenging putting surfaces, the final numbers you jot down on your scorecard may be a bit higher than you would expect from a course with such a minimal yardage total. The course is rated at 67.9/122 from the tips.
If an enjoyable day on the links is more important to you than the score you post, you are unlikely to find a better place to tee it up in the metro area than City Club Marietta. The course is again in excellent condition and its compact, non-developed setting makes it one of the easiest in Atlanta to walk.
When you add the absence of length and an extremely diverse mix of entertaining, if occasionally perplexing holes, you have one of the best golf experiences in all of Atlanta, unless your idea of a rewarding day on the course is getting beat up by a layout with more distance and more hazards than you can comfortably handle.
City Club Marietta has been around in its current configuration since the early 1990s, when the course was acquired by the city of Marietta. The course opened in 1915 as the original Marietta Country Club, with its members selling it to the city after building a new course in Kennesaw.
Georgia-based golf course architect Mike Young did an extensive renovation on the layout, which has undergone one change of note since then, the conversion of the 14th hole from a par 4 to par 5.
The first order of business when playing City Club Marietta is to keep the ball in the fairway. Although there are a few parallel holes, among them the first and last holes on both nines, there are not many tee shots that don’t require a fairly high degree of accuracy.
Because there are so many short par 4s, especially on the back nine, there are plenty of potential scoring holes. But if you don’t hit it straight, those scoring opportunities are going to turn into serious scrambles to avoid some ugly numbers on seemingly inviting holes.
Out of bounds is within reach on several holes, mostly for those who hit it right to left.
But the bigger concern is the tree lines, almost all of which allow recovery shots, but with no guarantee you can easily extricate yourself from trouble.
At just over 250 yards, the slightly uphill, dogleg right second hole appears to be a birdie waiting to happen. But the trees that line both sides of the fairway and the long, angular green that can create some surprisingly demanding short game shots produce far more over par scores than you would expect.
The most interesting of the par 4s on the opening nine is the sixth, a narrow dogleg left with a significantly downhill second shot that will test your distance control, providing you leave yourself with an unobstructed approach. A sharp drop-off over the green can make things dicey if you choose the wrong club.
The opening nine includes two entirely different par 5s, with accuracy again a vital element. The narrow fourth hole is just 472 yards with an uphill tee shot and sharply downhill approach, which allows longer hitters to entertain thoughts of going for the green in two. However, an imposing bunker fronting a very shallow green makes it tough to get close even with a wedge third shot, assuming you can keep your lay up between mounds and trees on either side.
The eighth has length (570 yards), a narrow, downhill tee shot through a chute of trees and a large expanse of woods on the corner of the sharp dogleg right that big hitters will attempt to fly. Water just short of a wide, relatively shallow green poses a problem for those who can cut the corner, as well as for players without the length to reach the green in two or who have to pitch out from the trees.
The eighth is the lone hole on the opening nine where water is a factor, but there is a four-hole stretch on the incoming nine where hazards are just that.
The 12th is the only par 3 with length and any danger. The hole measures 180 yards (downhill) with trees tight to both sides and a pond just short of the green, which is cut out of a hillside with no level ground around it and a very delicate short game shot from wherever you miss.
The 13th is among the shorter par 4s (307 yards), but a finger of a lake looms just in front of the green down the left side to discourage longer hitters from going at it with a driver. Trees are very much in play off both sides of the fairway, and the lake also borders the back of the green, creating some trepidation with the short second.
There aren’t many par 5s with more treacherous lay-up shots than the 14th, which is reachable in two if you can thread your tee shot down the left side to avoid the trees just off the right edge of the fairway that block access to the green from long range. There is precious little room between a pond on the left and an out-of-bounds fence on the right on the second shot, with any errant attempt to go for the green in two almost certain to meet a very unpleasant fate.
A creek fronts the green on the downhill 15th, which is short (320) but extremely narrow, with a precise lay-up required to find the fairway on the dogleg left. Bunkers along the right side are a ball magnet and make the approach shot over the creek a lot more imposing than from the fairway.
The remainder of the back nine is a lot friendlier, but you will still have to make it up the hill leading to the 18th green, the last of three seriously uphill par 4s that can play a lot longer than their yardages of around 350 yards if you don’t catch it solidly off the tee.
The greens have ample amounts of size and roll, but some well-placed bunkers make several of the targets appear uncomfortably small from the fairway. The middle (5,396 yards) and forward (4,614) tees are also of modest length, making it an equally friendly layout for seniors, juniors and women.
Rudd heads up a veteran staff that includes instructors Dan Mullins and Rob Williams, a recent arrival from Pinetree, along with David Fore, who has worked at other Cobb County courses. The club has a long history of involvement in junior golf in the community.
Because of its location on the edge of downtown Marietta and player friendly layout, City Club Marietta is a popular choice for outings and tournaments, with a quality grill and the presence of the Hilton Marietta Conference Center next door assets in that regard.
For information, call 770-528-4653 or visit www.CityClubMarietta.com.