Fazio's National Course exemplifies golf at Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Georgia

GREENSBORO, Ga. - At Reynolds Plantation, the Reynolds family employed some of the best designers in the business, so it's no surprise that for the third golf course at this 16,000-acre mega-resort, it turned to veteran architect Tom Fazio.

After all, rarely do you hear harsh criticism of a Fazio course. In fact, most of the time, his courses are lauded, and the 27-hole National Course at Reynolds Plantation is no exception. Presented with a stunning piece of land between Atlanta and Augusta, the National Course takes advantage of elevation changes and the Lake Oconee shorelines to create one memorable hole after another.

Three distinct nines on Reynolds Plantation's National course

The Ridge and Bluff nines make up the original 18 at National. Both opened in 1997, followed by the Cove Course in 2000. The names do a good job of describing the nines. You can expect plenty of elevation changes on all of them with some holes that play down and then back up to elevated greens.

The Cove is the longest at 3,533 yards, and it has some very interesting holes. The fourth, for example, is a really cool, dogleg-left par 5 with a creek that runs in front of a green that is hidden around a corner. The par-5 sixth, at 502 yards, is reachable, but the green has a false front, meaning you could be chipping there for a while.

The Ridge nine also has plenty of dramatic holes. The par-4 fourth features a substantial lake carry, while the short par-5 eighth has huge elevation changes. And on the Bluffs, Lake Oconee backs up against the par-3 fourth hole, and a creek plays havoc with the par-4 eighth.

There are also plenty of bunkers – 115 in all – and the fairways are lined with Georgia pines and thousands of azaleas and dogwoods. The large, undulating greens are pure A-1/A-4 bentgrass and run extremely true.

The National course at Reynolds Plantation: The verdict

Some argue that the National is the best course of all the six courses at Reynolds Plantation, and it would be difficult to dispute, because it's certainly a candidate.

The truth is that all the courses at Reynolds Plantation are good, and the National merely serves to maintain the standard. Here you'll get ego-boosting tee shots from some of the elevated boxes, but you also get plenty of challenge, especially in the short game.

Nothing about this course is boring, including the practice facilities. The facility features a perfect grass range with pyramids of high-quality practice balls, a practice bunker, putting green and very large chipping and pitching green that visitors could spend an hour or two on without getting bored.

Stay and play at Reynolds Plantation

One of the best ways to experience a golf vacation (which could also include fishing and other outdoor activities) at Reynolds Plantation is to stay at the Ritz-Carlton.

The luxurious hotel features 251 well-appointed rooms and suites, many with terrific views of Lake Oconee. There are also several two- and three-bedroom cottages available as well as the 5,400-square-foot Presidential House, which sits along the lake shore next to the main lodge.

The resort also features a 26,000-square-foot, full-service spa and fitness center as well as four outstanding restaurants. Gaby's by the Lake, for example, offers exquisite outdoor and indoor dining with panoramic views of the lake.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.
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Fazio's National Course exemplifies golf at Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Georgia