Originally created 04/08/01

Architect strives for balance at course



The Oconee Course, the fourth golf course to be built at Reynolds Plantation, was designed by Rees Jones, son of Robert Trent Jones Sr.

The senior Mr. Jones has designed or redesigned 500 golf courses in more than 40 states and 35 countries, including the one at Augusta National Golf Club.

The younger Mr. Jones has designed or redesigned more than 100 courses since entering the field in 1964. His most prominent works are the Atlantic Golf Course in Long Island, N.Y.; Ocean Forest Course at Sea Island, Ga.; and Nantucket Course in Nantucket, Mass.

His course at Reynolds Plantation winds through acres of Georgia pines and stretches out onto the banks of Lake Oconee. Mr. Jones used the natural contour of the land to add sand traps and water hazards.

Water comes into play on eight of the 18 holes and in a variety of ways. In addition to the lake, there are winding creeks, small pools and a 30-foot waterfall on the first hole.

On the fifth hole, depending on which tees are used, players can choose whether to play over water.

There are traditional Bermuda fairways and roughs and Bentgrass greens. And from the back tees, the course stretches out about 7,400 yards.

Mr. Jones said he strives to build uncontrived courses that have enough variety and character to retain the golfer's interest round after round. He said the Oconee Course fits the definition.

"It's a course that's going to make you think," he said. "And it has a variety of shot options and a variety of visual experiences."

The Oconee Course, like the rest of Reynolds Plantation, was incorporated into the lay of the land as much as possible.

"The selection of a site for the course is crucial. It serves as the canvas for the creation of the design," Mr. Jones said.

And as a member of the United States Golf Association's Environmental and Turfgrass Research committees, Mr. Jones designed the course with careful thought to preserving the natural setting.

"We designed it so it wasn't in conflict with the surrounding environment," he said. "But golf is very environmentally conscientious anyway."

Reynolds Plantation already is home to the Great Waters course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, and the Plantation course - both of which won spots on Golf Magazine's "10 Best New Courses" list the years they opened.

Great Waters is a former home of the Andersen Consulting World Championship of Golf, and Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson and Tom Lehman are among those who have played there.

Mr. Jones thinks the Oconee Course can hold its own among the best.

"It's a classic, old-style design like they had in the old days, before the Depression," Mr. Jones said. "It has championship qualities. I think it will make the top 100."

Reach Lisa M. Lohr at (706) 823-3332 or lisalohr@augustachronicle.com.