GRADE “A” ARCHITECTURE
Architect: Jack Nicklaus (1992) Updated (2019)
When Great Waters first opened in 1992 the reaction was very positive. The 18-hole layout by Jack Nicklaus provided a worthy golf challenge bolstered in having numerous holes within eye-range of the breathtaking Lake Oconee.
Fast forward over a quarter of a century later and the Golden Bear returned to update the layout. The 7,400-yard layout has been tweaked in a few spots and the original overall design elements clearly enhanced.
One of the most picturesque and strategic holes comes at the 11th. The short par-4 plays 349 yards but don’t be fooled that the lack of yardage translates into a simplistic hole. Quite the contrary.
Play commences from an elevated tee and the view is spellbinding. Lake Oconee frames the left and rear areas of the hole. Golfers have to determine how aggressive a play to take. Nicklaus smartly added a new forward tee and all the tee locations were reconfigured to open up better views.
Long hitters have to ponder the question — should one go full bore in attempting to go for the green or come very near to it. There is a narrow alleyway on the right side but the key word to remember is “narrow.” Water pinches in from the left and a tree line hugs close to the right side.
Those looking to play more conservatively can go with less club off the tee and leave themselves anywhere from 75-100 yards for the approach. When opting in this manner the second shot is tested thoroughly. The green is very wide but not especially deep. Four bunkers are near green side and each can play a pivotal role when the pin is cut nearby. To help assist players, Nicklaus eliminated the hollow right of the green and replaced it with slight kick-in slope. The slope in the back right of the green was also softened. However, the overall green contours were slightly strengthened.
The approach is significantly impacted by the different sections of the green. Players have to be sure to land their approach on the appropriate section or the likelihood of a three putt or worse is clearly possible. When the flagstick is placed in the far left corner it takes a deft touch and a confident manner to successfully flight and keep one’s ball near to the hole.
Superior holes present options – for al levels of players. The 11th at Great Waters is a constant intersection of choices needing to be made and marrying the execution in order to secure the reward being sought.
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Lead photo courtesy of Russell Kirk