Across our state there are eight state parks which offer a guest the opportunity to play golf while visiting. From Lake Blackshear and Georgia Veterans’ to Victoria Bryant and Highland Walk, these courses give the golfer an opportunity to test their skills across our state in a variety of ways as different as their locations.
If there is something that I have learned over the past forty years of enjoying the game, it is that there are no two golf courses that offer the same challenges or even the same looks as its neighbor. Sure, all courses usually feature a combination of par 3, par 4, and par 5 holes. What separates one course from another is how does an architect uses the design of each of the 18 holes is what separates one course from another.
No where is this more evident than Bob Walker’s Arrowhead Pointe Course located on the shore of Lake Russell near Elberton Georgia. All around the region are courses that flow through farm land and through forrest. Some have greens that would rival any course that you would see the professionals play on television.
Arrowhead Pointe’s design separates itself by the architect’s use of the property that borders Lake Russell, taking advantage of the scenery of Lake Russell. There are no less than 10 holes on this course that front or flow along the shore of the lake. It’s how Arrowhead Pointe’s design takes advantage and uses the scenery and topography that separates it from other courses in our area.
When you think of a State Park golf course, it’s easy to see a course that offers a simple or easy cookie cutter approach to course design. The design would allow the player to ease through his or her round and play golf in such away that limits the challenge that a better player enjoys. This is not the case with this course.
Stretching out to a length of almost 7000 yards, Arrowhead is a design that offers the beginning player an opportunity to experience an enjoyable experience, while at the same time challenging the better player by requiring the player to use an assortment of shots based on both length and wind from the Lake. Most holes on this course offer tee areas where there is as much as 50 to 75 yards difference based on tee selection.
An example of this is the par 5 fifth hole at Arrowhead Pointe. From the Championship tees, this double dog legged par 5 plays at 564 yards. Moving up to the beginners or Red Tee, the move takes the hole down to 445 yards, a decrease of over 100 yards length.
Also, the size of the teeing grounds can affect the players angle of attack into many of the holes on the course. On hole #17, the choice on location of the tee can change the hole from 397 yard par 4 across the Lake to a fairway that slopes toward the tee, or to a 320 yard hole where the tee shot must cross a waste area before reaching the fairway.
Again, this allows the player to see Arrowhead Pointe not as a single course, but as a course that changes depending on the tee that he chooses to play from.
What are the special holes on this course? As much as the back 9 draws raves because of Lake Russell, there are two holes on the front side that must be conquered before a golfer can even begin to think of the Lake holes.
The first of the holes in the par 5 fifth hole. This hole can play at upwards of 564 yards from the championship tee or as little as 445 from the forward tees. What makes the fifth hole so perplexing is that it looks much like a slalom ski course in Europe, a double dogleg that bends to the left from the tee and then back to the right as the golfer moves downhill to the green.
The hole runs slightly down hill from the tee, roughly 230 yards to the landing area. From there, the golfer is faced with a choice. Is the risk of hitting a 3 wood to a green hidden by a stand of large trees worth the risk. The better play for golfer is perhaps to take a mid iron, 6 or 7 iron and hit to the corner of the second fairway dogleg, which is about 60 feet below where the golfers tee shot lands. This will leave the golfer with a 100 to 120 yard wedge shot that is to a green that is among the largest on the course.
The other hole on the front nine for the golfer to negotiate successfully, is the very next hole. Number 6 is a 434 yard par 4 that features a blind tee shot to a fairway that runs away and to the right from the tee. The second shot is into a green that is below the level of the fairway, and has a lot of trouble around the back of the green. This hole is recognized on the scorecard as the most difficult hole on the course.
It’s the holes on the second nine at Arrowhead Pointe that feature Lake Russell, that separate it from a lot of the other courses in the area. Visible on seven of the final nine holes, the views are spectacular. Also, the proximity to Lake Russell allows the breezes coming off the water to have an influence on any shot that is played.
Holes 12 through 17 are the holes that are impacted by Lake Russell. The 12th hole is a 400 yard par four that runs slightly uphill from the tee. A tee shot that moves from left to right sets up a short iron shot into a large green. Wind coming from the lake can impact the golf ball and impact the result of even a well struck shot.
The first par 3 on the second nine at Arrowhead Pointe is one that is impacted by the presence of a very large teeing ground that changes the angle that the golfer plays. The 190 yard hole features a large circular green and plays over an inlet of Lake Russell.
The next two holes play out to the end of a narrow pointe in Lake Russell. The 14th is an uphill par four that tips out at about 400 yards. The fairway slopes slightly from right to left, so the well struck tee shot is a right to left shot that is targeted at the cart path which moves up the left side of the fairway.
The final par 3 on the course, the 15th, is one where the listed yardage is not the playing yardage for the hole. Playing at 145 yards to green that is below the level of the tee, this hole will play tricks on you. Take one club less than you would think for this hole, or Lake Russell will come into play.
Holes 16 and 17 start the players journey back to the club house. Number 16 is a classic three shot par 5, of about 540 yards, where the smart player favors the right side of the fairway to avoid marshes and high grass that is along the left side of this hole.
The 17th is another hole, like number 13 earlier, where the location and length of teeing grounds will make this into two completely different holes. From championship tee, the golfer faces a tee shot across Lake Russell, to a fairway that moves right to left from where he is standing. The ideal tee shot for this hole is a draw from right to left that is aimed at the middle of three grass bunkers that adorn the highest side of the fairway.
From the other tee, the golfer is looking a tee shot that needs to hug the right side of the fairway in order to give him or her a good look at the green which sets above the landing area. Also, the grass bunkers that are visible from the championship tee, continue along the right side of the fairway. The golfer should avoid these as much as possible in order to be successful on the hole.
Arrowhead Pointe is a golf course that challenges the good player while being enjoyable to play for the wide spectrum of all golfers, the beginner or novice player. It offers a fun and enjoyable day for all golfers.
If you would like additional information about Arrowhead Pointe at Lake Russell, you can contact the Pro Shop at 706-283-6000, or visit their website.