You all know the story of Augusta National - the dream of golfing legend Bobby Jones which came to fruition and was built in 1933 with Dr Alister McKenzie...
Augusta National Golf Club and The Masters tournament are now revered around the world.
But you may not know the story of Peachtree Golf Club, which was also the brainchild of Bobby Jones.
Jones appointed his namesake - Robert Trent Jones (Snr), and built Peachtree CC in 1947 just up the road from Augusta at Atlanta, Georgia.
Peachtree has always been a very private club and even now only has a few hundred members.
It is hard to get a game here - you just have to convince a member to invite you!
My invitation came on the eve of the 2013 Masters, which was won by Adam Scott.
I had a memorable day
The course has a number of sets of tees - unusually, all the same colour - and does not readily accommodate lady golfers.
However, I am assured that ladies do play at Peachtree..
The land at Peachtree is undulating, and hence the course routing negotiates some significant elevation changes.
Apart from putting, the most challenging aspect to playing Peachtree was hitting approach shots off different slopes to greens sitting up above me.
All fairways were lined by majestic pines, dogwoods, and azaleas just coming in to bloom.
Throw in some eye catching water hazards (designed to really get into your head), super quick greens- and it all sounds a little familiar doesn't it?
Now, I have not played Augusta National, but I imagine it may be more than a little like playing Peachtree.
And if Augusta's greens are any quicker than the 12 to 13 on the stimpmeter that Peachtree was running - I just don't think I would cope..
(When you warm up on a practice green before your game, and you know the greens are really quick- but still knock every putt 10ft past the hole- that's when the speed of the greens intimidates...)
I must admit I was really happy with a couple of two putt pars to start the round, but wait..
With the pin on the 3rd sittting on a high section back left of the green with water and bunkers to carry, I deliberately played safe and was pin high 2 feet off the green.
The caddy left me with a putter and instructions to hit 4 foot right of the hole.
This part of the instruction was dutifully followed, but the pace was not quite enough to get up the swale to the hole.
As the ball lost momentum it turned until it was trickling across the slope and back toward the front of the green.
Barely moving on the glass like surface the ball continued to trickle until it ran off the front of the green and down around the front bunker.
This left me with a 30 metre pitch back to the flag.
My pitch was just short of very good and excruciatingly slowly made it's way back to my feet.
Much to the mirth of my playing partner Mike Young I recorded a very well played triple bogey 7!
Another example of the speed of the greens was seen on the par 5, fifth hole where I approached with a pitching wedge to a pin on the front of a two tiered green.
With the green elevated I landed beside the pin and ran half way up the swale and back to the pin... and kept trickling off the front of the green, and 20 metres down the hill.
I salvaged a par but Mike Young was mightily amused.
However even scratch players like Mike can struggle - his birdie putt from above the hole on 5 never stopped until it got to the bottom of the hill - and I filmed it!!
Notable holes at Peachtree include:
- hole 2, a shorter teasing par 5 where two good shots might get you home for two- but water and bunkers can bring you undone
- hole 3, a strong par 4 with a creek in play left and a very tricky green
- hole 4, a picture postcard par 3 (see pic mid page)
- hole 6, another good looking par 3
- hole 12, a solid par 4 with water crossing the fairway diagonally
- hole 13, a shorter par with a shallow tabletop green
- hole 14, a par 3 over water with a green angled to the line of play and sloping to the water
Peachtree was in magnificent shape and I doubt if I will ever play a better prepared course.
Not many of us get to play a very good golf course in such condition- it certainly was a treat.
The course is both pretty and pretty demanding.
The greens and hilly lies make it a tough course to score well on- but it is a real privilege to play there
Peachtree will always be compared to Augusta National.
Whilst I am of the opinion that the latter features more all world holes, the Peachtree members think their course it is the equal of Augusta - and who am I to argue?
Perhaps when I have played both courses a few more times, I could offer a more informed opinion?
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