Only a few lucky souls will get the chance to follow the golf greats around Augusta National Golf Club at the 2010 Masters, and even fewer get to play there any time, since it's private . . . . very private.
Nonetheless, lots of gorgeous, public-access golf is available nearby Augusta.
- Reynolds Plantation: one of the largest and most highly rated golf complexes in the Southeast, between Atlanta and Augusta along the shores of Lake Oconee, 117 holes of golf designed by Nicklaus, Cupp and Tom Fazio (plus 2 private tracks by Rees Jones and Jim Engh tracks). The Reynolds Golf Academy, 4 full-service marinas; 251-room Ritz-Carlton Lodge Reynolds Plantation; #5 on Condé Nast Traveler's “Top 100 Golf Resorts” worldwide. A Nicklaus Signature course that opened in 1992, Great Waters has been renovated by Nicklaus Design and has just reopened to guest play.
- Cuscowilla Golf Club and Resort: Coore and Crenshaw came up with a lovely layout in the pines of Lake Oconee. Golfweek says it's the "#1 Best Course You Can Play" in Georgia for 2009 and 2010. Courseside cottages and lakeside villas are where players and families like to stay.
- River Golf Club. In north Augusta on the Savannah River, a Jim Fazio design (72.7/129) that meanders through wetlands and alongside lakes--water on 12 holes. Reasonable greens fees. Multi-bedroom cottages.
- Mount Vintage Plantation and Golf Club: in North Augusta, a new 9 has been added to the 18 championship holes (7,127 yards, 144/74.5). Expect big-time elevation changes. The circa 1840 “Shaw House" is the beautiful clubhouse.
- Goshen Plantation Golf Club: In Augusta, 7,151 yards of Georgia pines with water on 12 holes, uniquely massive greens, updated in 2001; terrific practice facility. The course is very highly rated by locals and visitors.
- Jones Creek Golf Club: In west Augusta on pine-studded, softly rolling hills, a 7,008-yard Rees Jones design that has been renovated and updated by Tom Fazio (139/73.9).
Founder/editor of BestGolfResortsofTheWorld, Karen Misuraca is a travel and golf writer from the California Wine Country. She follows the little white ball around the world and blogs about International Golf Travel. And, she also writes a blog on Sustainable Travel.