Atlanta National - Milton, GA
If you get an invite past the front gate, expect to see a beautiful course but don’t be surprised if this beautiful course eats your lunch coming down the stretch.
There are ideal scenarios in which to play golf. Beautifully sunny afternoons with temperatures in the 80s come to mind. And then there was the scene in which I found myself on Masters Sunday… hungover at 8am, wearing three layers due to all 45 degrees that decided to show up that overcast morning. Welcome to Atlanta National.
Atlanta National is found in a high-end gated community outside Milton. The course itself is a parkland style that is contiguous with Capital City Club Crabapple. The property seems to encompass a fairly steep ridge and surrounding flood plain with lots of large trees and water hazards throughout.
Clubhouse/Pro Shop/Practice facility
A ClubCorp run facility with a big clubhouse but a small pro shop downstairs with mostly clothing. There was also a small pub down the hall from the pro shop that had a nice bar menu and some really big TVs perfect for watching the Masters. The range was well done with flat, even turf and located directly behind the clubhouse next to the first tee. They also have two putting greens, one quite large, between the clubhouse and the 18th green.
A Pete and P.B. Dye design where all measurements are to the front and the greens are huge…really huge. I believe #14 had a +44 pin placement that day. There are some serious elevation changes on this course but the best holes by far are flat and run along the flood plain.
There are a number of large waste bunkers on the course and I think they are a great asset both visually and strategically. There are also a number of wild grassy areas and they don’t really make sense to me. These areas are not really in play and look like someone forgot to mow them. The oddly long grass is totally out of character, especially since the rest of the course is kept up quite well. I wish they were made into the waste bunkers for a more cohesive theme.
The elevation changes incorporated on the front are almost a gimmick, totally flat from the tee to around 100 yards and then straight up nearly eighty feet to the green on #5. The seventh goes right back down the same hill. Both straight, just traversing in opposite directions. Both not very interesting in my opinion.
Once you get through those holes the rest of the course is pretty damn great.
The 8th is a long, sharp and narrow dogleg right off the tee. I was fortunate enough to play my second from a foot past the front tee marker thanks to the chute one must navigate to get to the corner. The par 5 #9 has a split fairway leading to a green well guarded by water. The back nine has a fantastic long par 3, number twelve, over a pond that will make you feel like a hero or zero. The last five holes are some of the best out there, including the signature Dye island green par 3 (17th).
I need to drink less watching the Masters. However, Atlanta National is a really nice course and worthy of a trip if you get the invite. I’d prefer to see less gimmick, especially the ludicrously deep bunkers on #13 and #18, but I was wisely not consulted during the design phase.
Crusader Rating: 4 STARS
Played April 2018