Sports Calendar

July 2, 2012

What's Going On?: Local courses grade well

Midway through my freshman year of high school, all of my buddies were getting heavily into a sport to which I’d had only minimal exposure. Growing up on the Georgia coast just south of Savannah, I had played the three sports offered by most recreation departments during the late 1970s and early ‘80s — baseball, football and basketball — and that was pretty much it.

But thanks to my uncle, I had always been a little interested in the sport my friends were taking to — golf. Uncle Lito (you can’t make that name up) had taken me to play for the first time when I was 9 or 10 on one of his visits from California, and I loved it even though I couldn’t really adapt my baseball swing. I remember hitting what would have been a lot of foul balls on a diamond, slicing some of his beat-up Titleists into the woods at a Brunswick golf course.

However, as any golfer can tell you, all it takes is one shot to hook you like no drug could. When you hit that first perfect shot — that first drive that takes off like a plane, climbs high like a rocket and bounces softly in the middle of the fairway, or an iron shot that goes exactly where you want it to and nestles safe and warm next to the flagstick on the green — you become a golfing addict.

My 14th birthday was the one where I begged my dad for my first set of clubs, a flat-backed set of Spalding irons with three real woods from K-Mart. I have been a serious addict ever since, with no 12-step program ever sought after.

In this area, we are fortunate to have several golfing options, with a great range of public courses as well as some top-flight private clubs. I have been fortunate to have played most of the courses in the area and have rarely been disappointed.

Here in Whitfield County, The Farm and Dalton Golf and Country Club are top-notch private facilities I’ve played during corporate scrambles and benefit tournaments, and for the upper-income golfer they offer the complete golf/country club experience with some of the best staffs I have run into across the state.

And for the more average and lower-income golfer like myself, Nob North in Cohutta, The Pasture in Tunnel Hill and Chatsworth’s Spring Lakes and Indian Trace offer challenging courses that are great values for the money. Up the road a little to the north and across the border into Tennessee, Cleveland’s Waterville course will soon be reopening its back nine as construction on the Dalton Pike wraps up.

You can contact your local courses and chase some Balatas with friends or take some jing from your boss in a little friendly best-ball wager at: Nob North, 298 Nob North Drive, Cohutta, nobnorth.com, (706) 694-8505; Indian Trace, 730 Mitchell Bridge Road, Chatsworth, indiantracegolf.com, (706) 695-7353; Spring Lakes, 1571 Spring Place-Smyrna Road, Chatsworth, (706) 695-9300; or The Pasture, 3449 Chattanooga Road, Tunnel Hill, (706) 673-4131.

While recent heat may have kept a lot of people off the links, it is still a good idea to think about that next wave of little golfers you may have at the house, and two upcoming junior golf camps could help start the next generation.

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