Our first review of our area golf courses is in Hartwell, at Cateechee Golf Club. Cateechee, named for a Cherokee Princess, opened in the late 1990’s and is the first upscale public course in Northeast Georgia. Awarded Audubon certification, Cateechee established the foundation for the other upscale area courses such as the Currahee Club in Toccoa and Arrowhead Pointe on Lake Russell near Elberton.
Cateechee, designed by Athens Architect Mike Young sits on Highway 77, about 3 miles south of Hartwell. The 18-hole course, which can play up to 7000 yards in length, flows through woods and open areas on a 400-acre tract. The club and its facilities have greatly benefitted from an extensive update following the change in ownership from the Hartwell Telephone Company to its current owners, Charlie and Kelli Schell in 2017.
One of the first changes is the course greens, which were originally Greg Norman GN1 bent grass. The greens are in the second year of a change over to mini Verde Bermuda, which is able to withstand the summer heat. This is the same putting surface that is found at East Lake in Atlanta, the site of the annual PGA Tour Championship each year.
One of the most exiting changes at Cateechee involves the establishment of the David Leadbetter Academy at Cateechee. See story here.
As for the course itself, Cateechee is a par 72 layout, which opens with three par 5’s in the first five holes on the front side. The front nine is more open and you can see play on many of the holes on the front side.
The second nine holeshave only a single par 5, hole 17 and can stretch to over 620 yards. This nine plays through a wooden area of the property, which lends to a more of an experience of playing a course in the mountains of our area.
What is the best hole, or holes at Cateechee? The design features a group of Par 3’s, holes 2, 6, 13, and 16, that range in length from 175 yards to 210 yards. The best of the par 3’s is number 13. This hole features a large kidney shaped green perched across from the teeing ground. This hole can play anywhere from 120 yards from the women’s tee all the way to 210 yards from the championship tee. Club selection in this hole is very important. The green slopes from back to front and any shot that goes long, confronts the golfer with an extremely difficult chip or pitch to save par.
The next two holes on the second nine at Cateechee are par 4’s that challenge the golfer in different ways. The 14th at Cateechee, which can stretch to more that 420 yards asks the golfer to position his or her tee shot to set up a second shot that can be blind to a green that moves away from the fairway from left to right, and can change the shot into the green by as much as two to three club lengths or about 20 yards.
In addition to the green, a large natural area fronts the green and occupies the last 100 yards of the fairway on the right side, is where an any shot that comes up short will land. If your shot finds this area, it will leave the golfer with an extremely difficult pitch to a green that is more that 10 feet above where your ball lies.
The final par 4 is the 15th. This hole is the modern risk reward drivable par 4, which at its longest is less than 325 yards. The aggressive tee shot is to a small green, which is 20 feet above the teeing area and is fronted by an assortment of small bunkers and high grass.The conservative player looks to the right and finds a fairway that is open and offers an easy wedge or pitch shot into the green.
The penultimate hole at Cateechee is the 628-yard par 5 17th hole. This hole runs down hill around another natural area, this time on the left side of the fairway. Recent modifications to the hole have improved the golfers ability to avoid the natural area by opening up the right side of the fairway from the original hole.A well-struck tee shot will leave the golfer with around 300 yards into a green that sets above the landing area. There are two fairway bunkers on the right side of the fairway, one around 170 yards from the green and a second that is about 120 yards from the green. The golfers second shot must avoid both of these if he is going to be successful. The third shot plays to a long green that slopes front to back.
After your round at Cateechee, include a stop at the Waterfall Grille. The restaurant offers an assortment of menu items, from sandwiches and burgers to full meals that would be the great conclusion to a round of golf. The course offers accommodations to the golfer who would like to plan a “get a way” with friends for a weekend of fun on the course.