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It may need little short of a miracle for the average golfer to get a tee time at Augusta National. Fortunately, there are a host of great courses close by, most of which open their fairways to visitors during Masters week. Rounds will unsurprisingly come at a premium, and you’re unlikely to have the course to yourself. Nonetheless if you don’t have tickets for every round of the tournament, or just want to get into the Masters spirit, these are the top courses in the area to play.
Forest Hills Golf Club has a history nearly as rich as Augusta National itself. The Donald Ross design, was extensively made over by Arnold Palmer in 2004. It was the first stop for Bobby Jones during his triumphant 1930 Grand Slam year. Voted the Best Public Golf Course in Augusta, the course is now the home for the Augusta University men’s golf team, who won the NCAA Division I National title in 2010. Stretching 7,140 from the back tees, the course certainly favours the long-hitter, although golfers are rewarded with generous fairways on many of the holes.
A great choice for those looking to grab a good deal during Masters week, don’t miss Goshen Plantation! Visitors can secure a tee time for only $50. The Ellis Maples design, which opened in 1968, is a great course if you’re travelling with a mix of ability levels despite tipping out at almost 7400 yards, due to its generous fairways and large greens.
Bar Augusta National, Palmetto Golf Club is without doubt the most prestigious golf course in the area. Located just across the state line in South Carolina, the original course can be dated back to 1892! This makes it the second oldest golf club in America. Since that time the course, renowned for its excellent putting surfaces, has been extensively remodelled by Donald Ross and Alister MacKenzie. The 1902 clubhouse, designed by Stanford White of Shinnecock Hills fame, sets the scene perfectly for what is a quaint and classy golf course. Celebrated for its challenging front-nine par-four’s, Ben Hogan once said that the 3rd, 4th and 5th were the best back-to-back two-shot holes he’d ever played.
A private club, Champions Retreat opens its doors during Masters week, don’t miss the chance! Few courses can boast such architectural pedigree. The 27-hole club is the world’s first collaboration between Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. With 13 Masters victories between the three, it’s fitting that the club goes all out during the tournament week! Come here for live music and a fantastic selection of southern cuisine. The three nine’s themselves are quite varied, although woods and wetlands come into play throughout.
Within close proximity of Palmetto Golf Club, Aiken is perhaps the most underrated golf course in the area. A public club situated 45 minutes from Augusta National, Aiken is a charming golf course that was founded in 1912. Stretching just 6,048-yards, hazards include old Southern Railway lines, sandy waste bunkers and sharp elevation changes.