No matter how famous Greyson Sigg will get in his golf career, it’s likely he’ll never be as well-known as the town where he’s from: Augusta, Ga.
Sigg, who had a successful 2020 on the Korn Ferry Tour with six top-10 finishes, grew up in the town synonymous with golf, playing at Augusta Country Club as a youngster before heading to the University of Georgia. K.J. Choi stayed at his house for three-straight years while competing at the Masters. A good friend’s home was where Dustin Johnson infamously fell down the stairs in 2017, forcing his withdrawal. And his mom works at Augusta National—with a Masters-week schedule that usually sees her on site from 6 a.m. until well past 8 p.m.
Given Sigg’s connection to Augusta and the area surrounding the iconic layout, he was the perfect person to talk to LINKS about the golf options available if you happen to make the pilgrimage to the Masters Tournament in the future and are itching to play close by.
Forest Hills Golf Club—Augusta, Ga.
Sigg grew up playing this Donald Ross design—home to a Bobby Jones victory at the 1930 Southeastern Open. The public layout, self-proclaimed as “the place to play while in Augusta for the Masters,” was established in 1926 and then redesigned by Arnold Palmer’s design team in 2004. It’s also the home of the Augusta University Jaguars—the Jaguar tees top out at 7,140 yards.
A very walkable course exuding a lot of the same charm as its well-known neighbor about 15 minutes away, you can play outside of Masters week for as low as $29 walking or $45 with a cart. Special rates apply during Masters week—$200 for a round, bucket of balls, and lunch—when the demand skyrockets.
Delighting golfers since 1926. pic.twitter.com/aSmCAW7sim
— Forest Hills Golf Club (@GolfForestHills) July 17, 2020
Augusta Country Club—Augusta, Ga.
It’s a private course, but it allows for reciprocal play. You can also send in a request form for an unaccompanied game on the par-72 Donald Ross design during Masters week. “We are the only course where you get to hit shots over Rae’s Creek and hear roars from the Masters Tournament,” the club says on its website (and indeed, the club is adjacent to Augusta National’s 12th green and 13th tee).
Sigg says despite the price—guest fees are close to $3,000 for a foursome now—it’s a course that’s worth playing if you have the chance.
“That would be my number one,” says Sigg, who has innumerable memories of playing golf there, hitting the patio for a transfusion cocktail, and watching the Masters on TV. “You can’t get any closer to the action than you can there. The party scene on the putting green and the patio…it’s a go-to spot.”
There’s no place in golf that is overshadowed by a neighbor like Augusta Country Club, but my guess is, that’s just how the members at this charming club like it. The course, which is the oldest in Augusta, was originally designed by David Ogilve and modified by Seth Raynor. pic.twitter.com/WM6dDQURPO
— LinksGems Golf Photos (@LinksGems) December 10, 2019
Champions Retreat—Evans, Ga.
The three nine holes at Champions Retreat—about 30 minutes from Augusta National—are individually designed by Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Jack Nicklaus. The course, which meanders through mature Georgia pines and numerous wetlands along the Savannah River, made international headlines as the host club of the first two rounds of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in 2019. Sigg says the addition of the cottages and the layout of the entire facility makes it one of the best in the area.
While fully private 51 weeks out of the year, Champions Retreat welcomes non-members during Masters week, but you’ll have to fill out the form on their website for a chance to play.
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Aiken Golf Club—Aiken, S.C.
Initially opened in 1912 as an 11-hole golf course, the family-owned Aiken Golf Club is a South Carolina hidden gem 25 miles east of Augusta National. A Donald Ross/J.R. Ingles design and a popular selection for golf architecture aficionados, Aiken is perhaps one of the best values in the country with walking rates as low as $22. At under 5,800 yards from the tips, the course isn’t your typical 18-hole walk in the park, but its charismatic and uncommon feel keeps players coming back year-after-year. “Everybody loves it,” says Sigg. “It’s very old school and super unique.”
Masters week rates for 2020 were set at $120—something to keep an eye on for future tournaments. Also worth visiting while in the area is the club’s sister course, Cedar Creek Golf Club—a semi-private Arthur Hills design with similarly low daily rates.
Palmetto Golf Club—Aiken, S.C.
The historic Palmetto Golf Club is private, but open to the public during Masters week—with rates of $300 for a cart, range balls, and lunch in November 2020. The course, founded in 1892 and about 20 miles northeast of Augusta, is a hotbed for those looking for golf with an Augusta National connection. How? In 1932, Alister MacKenzie was asked after he finished ANGC to convert Palmetto from sand greens to grass and to lengthen the course. Many of Augusta National’s investors were also members at Palmetto. The club has also benefitted from the hands of Rees Jones, Tom Doak, and Gil Hanse—who is now resident architect for the club. “That golf course is just so good,” says Sigg.
Founded in 1892, the Palmetto Golf Club is one of the oldest in America. Charmingly understated but architecturally brilliant, PGC has an architectural pedigree that includes Alister MacKenzie, Herbert Leeds, Donald Ross, Tom Doak & Gil Hanse, who recently restored the course. pic.twitter.com/y77faeuWDS
— LinksGems Golf Photos (@LinksGems) February 19, 2020
Reynolds Lake Oconee—Greensboro, Ga.
Equidistant from Atlanta and Augusta (about one hour and 20 minutes), Reynolds Lake Oconee offers six championship courses designed by the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio, Rees Jones, Bob Cupp, and Jim Engh. Nicklaus’s Great Waters course finished a renovation in 2020 and recently played host to an LPGA Tour event. Then there’s the Kingdom at Reynolds Lake Oconee—one of two such TaylorMade facilities in the country offering full club fitting and instruction capacities. “There is so much good golf there, and it’s a really happening spot,” says Sigg.
Incoming golfers who are flying into Atlanta would be wise to check out the stay-and-play packages from Reynolds Lake Oconee to break up, or add to, their trip to Augusta National.
You saw the course on TV. Now come play it yourself with our Stay & Play package: https://t.co/mHhRNCsIR8
Stay & Play provides the option to play Great Waters, The Landing, The National, The Oconee, and The Preserve course, with replay rounds available at special rates. pic.twitter.com/qhGlWvagak
— Reynolds Lake Oconee (@reynoldsgolf) October 30, 2020
PRIVATE CLUBS OF NOTE
If you have connections and happen to know a member, these purely private clubs should be added to your list…
West Lake Country Club—Augusta, Ga.
A private course with immaculate playing conditions just five miles from Augusta National (a lot of the players stay in the gated community in which the course is located), is definitely worth checking in for a guest visit during Masters week, according to Sigg. The course was designed by a Donald Ross protégé, Ellis Maples, and was opened in 1969.
Sage Valley Golf Club—Graniteville, S.C.
More difficult to get on, but worth a mention, as the golf course is undeniably fantastic. Only 20 minutes from Augusta National, Sage Valley plays host to the Junior Invitational every year—the most iconic event in junior golf, with the top-50 youngsters in the world competing for a golden jacket. The Tom Fazio design established in 2001 boasts a 35,000-square-foot clubhouse and 16 cottages for overnight lodging. Sigg says he grew up caddying there during middle school and high school—“It’s just popping during Masters week. It’s an incredible place,” says Sigg.
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What other clubs should someone consider on a trip to the Augusta area? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.