With the Masters in bloom, Georgia golf is on our minds

With the Masters around the corner, here are some top Georgia golf packages

It's never too early to start thinking about the Masters and with that comes an urge to play a little golf in Georgia, whether it's near Augusta, Atlanta or other parts of the state.

Like much of the country, Georgia has been unusually warm this winter. The azaleas are blooming early, and many courses are ahead of schedule, and March is looking to be fairly warm as well. So forget about the groundhog seeing his shadow; this is a great opportunity to start your golf season in the Peachtree State. Here are four Georgia resorts that are currently offering some great golf packages:

Chateau Elan Winery and Resort

Just north of Atlanta in Braselton is the Chateau Elan Resort, which is set on Georgia's largest winery. It's also home to lots of golf, including the Chateau Course and Woodlands Course, both of which were designed by Denis Griffiths and are open to the public. (There's also a nine-hole course as well as the private Legends Course). There are elevated tees with plenty of movement and great views of the vineyards. The resort offers a 33,000-square-foot European-style spa, an equestrian center and the 276-room Inn. Combine that with terrific restaurants, an Irish pub and a wine market, and you get the picture – there's plenty to do in addition to the golf. Right now, the resort is offering stay-and-play packages that begin just over $300 a night and include golf and accommodations.

Barnsley Resort

Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains about an hour or so northwest of Atlanta in Adairsville, Barnsley Resort is a true escape, offering a Tom Fazio golf course, sporting club, spa and fine dining. Recognized as some of the fastest greens in the Southeast, the 378-acre course winds around the resort's lake, forests and gardens. Offering one of the best collections of par 3s, the course is open to resort guests, day golfers and golf tournaments. Those looking to improve their skills can schedule some time with one of Barnsley Resort's PGA golf professionals, and there are packages available that combine instruction and golf. Right now, Right now, this high-end escape is offering a "Golfer's Getaway Special" starting at $559 a night, which includes two rounds of golf per golfer, along with an overnight stay and a full American breakfast for two in The Woodlands Grill.

Sea Island Resort

The par-5 finishing hole of the Plantation golf course at Sea Island Resort requires an approach shot over a pond.

Another truly high-end experience can be found at the famous Sea Island Resort, which is located on the Georgia coast about three hours south of Augusta just above the Florida state line. Home of the PGA Tour's RSM Classic, Sea Island is where Davis Love III learned to play from his father, the late Davis Love II. And it's where he's passing the game onto his own son today. The resort has three championship layouts, some of the best instruction in the world and one of the best settings anywhere for golf. Packages start at just under $600 a night and includes golf with a forecaddie a the Plantation, Retreat, and/or the Seaside courses. It also includes accommodations at The Inn at Sea Island as well as access to Sea Island's luxurious facilities.

Aiken, South Carolina

Just across the Savannah River right next to Augusta is Aiken, S.C., where the golf is memorable with a variety of affordable golf packages linked to local hotels and more than a dozen golf courses. Historic Aiken is home to one of the oldest golf courses in the South, Aiken Golf Club, which. opened in 1912, with fairways graced by Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Patty Berg and even Fred Astaire. Here, you'll find oddly shaped greens with undulation that heightens the difficulty of putting, a few challenging doglegs and plenty of deep, penal bunkers. A few miles to the southwest sits North Augusta, where you'll find the River Golf Club, designed by Jim Fazio, along the banks of the Savannah River. Other courses in the area you can put in your package include Cedar Creek, Jones Creek and Persimmon Hill Golf Club, to name a few.

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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With the Masters around the corner, here are some top Georgia golf packages