Alphabetically, Woodmont Golf Club is near the bottom of the list of the state’s courses.
From a quality standpoint, however, it ranks right at the top among Georgia’s daily fee layouts, and can make a strong case that it is the No. 1 course among an outstanding group of semi-private facilities in the metro Atlanta area.
Woodmont opened in the Fall of 1999, and was the first Robert Trent Jones, Jr., layout in the state. Jones, part of one of the most renowned families in the golf course architecture business, made his first Georgia effort a splendid one, with Woodmont achieving the hard-to-balance medium of challenge and playability, while offering some exceptional scenery along with a memorable golf experience.
Located in the rolling terrain of Cherokee County not far from I-575 between Canton and Cumming, Woodmont is an easy drive for golfers all across the north metro area. Some of the drives on the course are not quite as pleasant, especially for those who have a tendency to hit it left to right off the tee.
Woodmont is not an especially demanding driving course, as Jones has generally provided healthy expanses of fairways, with some margin for error on most holes. A number of holes feature potentially friendly mounds or hills down the left side that will typically re-direct tee shots back to the short grass, enabling you to aim away from the trouble most frequently found to the right.
As long as you hit it reasonably straight at Woodmont, you’ll be safe. But if you begin straying too far to the right, you can expect to encounter some of the hazards that are present on 11 of the holes, including all but one on the shorter and more inviting (but also more perilous) back nine.
On seven of the 13 non-par 3s at Woodmont, there is serious trouble right off the tee, beginning with the opener in the form of OB stakes. But with room down the left side to play a fade, it takes a seriously off-target tee shot to reach a hazard.
Listed at 6,775 yards from the back tees and 6,425 from the next set (Medal on the scorecard), Woodmont is not a long course by modern standards. With five par 3s and five par 5s, only one of each having significant length, the yardage figures are a bit deceiving, and a number of elevated tees reduce the distances even more. But with the prevailing winds in your face on some of the key holes, Woodmont can play its length and then some, especially when the wind blows.
The white tees are just under 5,900 yards on the scorecard, with the forward tees just over 5,150. There are also three combo sets that can take a little of the bite out of some of the more demanding holes.
Length off the tee is a necessary attribute on only a handful of holes, with Jones limiting most of the danger shots to holes where you should not have to hit a long iron or fairway wood approach. The longer par 4s are designed to allow shorter hitters to work their way to the green without having to negotiate trouble (provided you hit it straight), but several holes coming in require a well-struck shot over a hazard.
Jones has clustered the most demanding holes at Woodmont into two groups, one on each nine. Among the key holes on the front are 3, 4 and 5, a trio of par 4s averaging around 425 from the back tees and 405 from the next set. Water is in play down the right side on all three holes — just off the tee on 5 and on the approach to the long fourth. The three holes face in differing directions and pose challenges on every shot from tee to green.
A creek just off the third green and a lake that hugs the right side of the fourth don’t allow much room to miss, but both are open in front, with no greenside bunkers on either hole and a little bailout room to the left. The uphill approach to the fifth has to carry a large bunker positioned on the front left, and features one of the more undulating putting surfaces on a course with some very interesting — and occasionally perplexing — greens complexes.
Jones mixes up the putting surfaces, both in terms of size and contour, with some on the gentle side and others featuring all sorts of roll and slope. Winding up above the hole on some greens and on the wrong side of a ridge on others is a hard-to-resist invitation to a three-putt, but some of the slopes can be quite beneficial if you land your approach shot in the right spot. The mounded areas and drop-offs around the greens can also make for some short game shots that demand a deft touch.
Along with the more challenging holes at Woodmont, Jones has offered up a comparable number of scoring opportunities, mainly via a mostly non-threatening group of par 3s and 5s (on windless days at least).
The sixth maxes out at 138 yards, with a shallow, undulating green zealously protected front and back by sand, including a back bunker best avoided by those who get a bit skittish in sand traps. At just 116 yards from an elevated tee, the 11th is a flip wedge for most players, but water short and sand long make it a lot more hole than its miniscule yardage numbers might attest.
The most demanding of the par 3s is the 15th, part of a difficult stretch of finishing holes. At 199 yards all the way back and 179 (or more) from the Medal tees over a scrub into the prevailing wind, a solid long iron or fairway metal is required to carry the trouble and avoid a steep drop-off right of the green. A hill left of the putting surface allows you to aim away from trouble and come away with a possible birdie putt if you get a favorable carom. Or you can wind up with one of many across the green putts that you just hope to get within 10 feet of the cup.
Holes 14 and 17 are among the shorter par 4s, but the second shots are not very inviting, especially on 14 (400/391), which begins with the only tee shot on the course where you can’t see the landing area. With an unseen creek flowing along the tree line right of the fairway, a hill down the left is a welcome target from the tee, and will propel a solid tee shot both forward and toward the fairway. The approach must carry a rocky creek angling in front of and below the level of the green, which has little depth and a bunker and hill behind. The hole usually plays down wind, but that doesn’t make the approach any less intimidating.
The scenic 17th (365/360) rests alongside a lake, with left-to-right hitters having to traverse a chute of trees just off the left side of the Medal tees, as well as a row of trees and water down the right side. The second has to carry the lake, which borders the green short and right. Fat equals wet, with another rolling green presenting some testy putts if you don’t hit it close.
Three of the par 5s (holes 1, 9 and 18) are straightforward and hazard-free other than some well-placed fairway and greenside bunkers, with 10 and 16 more of the risk/reward variety. The downhill (usually downwind) 10th is reachable by more than just the longest hitters, who have to contend with a wetlands area that crosses the fairway around 200 yards from the green, as well as trouble down the left side The uphill second has to contend with a large bunker short of the green that also is a concern for those looking to stick their third close to a front pin for a chance at birdie.
Any course with five par 5s needs at least one that falls into the quirky category, and Woodmont’s 16th certainly meets that description. A sharply elevated tee provides a wonderful view of the challenge that awaits. The hole has length (570/543) and an S-shaped creek that snakes along the right side of the fairway, crossing it around 180 yards from the green and then turning back in front of the bowl-like putting surface. Trees that dot the right side of the dogleg right require considerable accuracy with the layup shot, and a multi-tier green with a depression in the middle can inspire either whoops of elation or jeers of scorn depending on where the pin is cut and how the slope treats your ball.
Largely because of the number of hazards and demanding putting surfaces, zoodmont has a fairly high Course Rating/Slope (73.1/140 – Championship; 71.5/137 – Medal; 69.9/130 – Match). The forward tees are listed at 70.7/126. .
Woodmont is among the Atlanta area’s best-conditioned courses, with the greens capable of reaching speeds that will give you some pause before you rap a downhill 15-footer. .
Triumph Golf acquired Woodmont a little over two years ago, giving the two company two of the Atlanta area’s top semi-private facilities along with Heritage Golf Links. The club’s instructional facility is headed up by two veteran Georgia PGA professionals who have 13 Player of the Year titles between – Tim Weinhart and Craig Stevens.
Woodmont also features private club caliber amenities, while continuing to offer reasonable rates for its daily fee clientele.
For information on Woodmont Golf and Country Club, call 770-345-9260.