BLUE RIDGE BUDDY TRIP - Cabins & Crazy Good Golf in North Georgia
Updated: Jun 23
What's the difference between a golf trip and a buddy trip? You may ask yourself, 'is there a difference between the two?' The answer to the latter is DEFINITELY! To differentiate the former, we do it like such:
The Golf Trip:
A group of people, usually smaller in size (i.e. twosome, foursome, sometimes larger), that set out for a journey to play as much golf as possible.
This trip more than likely includes a minimum of thirty-six holes a day.
A number of courses are played, typically at least one different course per day.
The accommodations are a secondary concern in most cases, since the only time spent at said lodging quarters are pretty much just for sleep & shower.
Some tomfoolery will exist, but usually just through the organic nature of being around your golf buddies.
The Buddy Trip:
A group of people, usually larger in size (i.e. two to four foursomes, sometimes larger), that set for a journey to engage in not good times, but great times, in which golf is a primary focus.
This trip more than likely includes a minimum of eighteen holes a day. Often, some of the group will return to HQ after a round or during inclement weather, while some of the more 'hardcore' golfers squeak in some extra holes.
While it's nice to play multiple courses, it is not a necessity.
Accommodations are a primary concern for the larger groups, since fellowship, food and golf are likely viewed as equal parts of the trip.
Tomfoolery will likely be omnipresent. What happens on a buddy trip, stays on a buddy trip.
Now that we've got that out of the way, let's dive into what make Blue Ridge, Georgia one of the absolute best Buddy Trip destinations on the east coast.
REASON #1 - THE GOLF
Any good trip - golf or buddy - is built around a centerpiece. If it were a meal, you need a main course. The Filet Mignon. You need a beacon around which to build the excitement of your group. In this case, the main course is Old Toccoa Farm.
Old Toccoa Farm (OTF) is one of those courses that draws golfers into remote places like a magnet. Sweetens Cove (TN) and Bandon Resort (OR) are likely the most two widely occurring golf pilgrimages in the United States. OTF's advantage? It is only 90 minutes from Atlanta (and Chattanooga for that matter). However, as the golf community has shown...
"No distance is too great to travel to play great golf." - Us
The course has a short history that just might turn into legend for golf architecture aficionados. For more on that, you can take a deeper dive into this Bunker Hill Golf design by reading this piece on The Fried Egg by our IG friend Ryan Book (@bethpageblackmetal).
One thing to be certain to do when scheduling a buddy trip is to know your group's golfing abilities. Every buddy trip has a buddy or four that might only play once a year. They will struggle to find their game at OTF, so find creative formats to relieve the pressure from their games and add fun in ways their game does not. Again, the reason for the trip is not solely about golf, so let them plan the tomfoolery later on!
That said, OTF will beat down even the lowest of handicaps the first time around. We recommend two things:
bring a lot of balls
play it on back-to-back days
Also, play a scramble on the first day, regardless of how good you think you are. It is best to experience the course and all its humps and bumps in a low pressure situation first, then come back with a fresh mind on day two and get serious!
While the course plays difficult the first time around, it is a marvel at which to gaze upon! We'll throw some more photos at the end of the story. Make sure you stay in your seats all the way through the credits to view the Easter eggs!
Right now, a construction trailer serves as the pro shop and there is no restaurant. All that should change by the end of 2021, taking this property from a great golf course to full 360 experience. The Clubhouse foundation has been set directly above the 9th green - hopefully they'll flip the nines so you can finish your round in front of many soon to be friends!
Keeping with the trip = meal analogy, no 5-star restaurant starts you out with a steak, do they? Of course not. You need to warm up your pallet first - sort of ease into it and literally set the table for what comes later. An appetizer to kicks things off perhaps?
Well, allow us to suggest your golf appetizer in the form of Old Union Golf Course in nearby Blairsville, GA. For a mere $35 weekday/$45 weekend, you'll get a course that follows the "(Fun / Challenge) + Price = Value" recipe. In short, it punches way above its price tag. It's a relatively flat property with some nice long views of the mountains, but it's the views along the ground we found most interesting from this linksy Dennis Griffiths design.
Griffiths, in our opinion, did a masterful job of making flat land interesting by adding the roughed-out mounding, which also created alternate routes to greens and increased its strategic playing value tremendously. As with any course, not everything is going to be perfect, but the greens were great and the place was just flat out fun to play.
In all honesty, we almost overlooked this course because of the price tag. It looked cool from the little we could find on it, but decided to give it a go. Boy are we glad we did. It's almost like an everyman's Dormie Club. Hopefully, our experience there will lead you to try it. Enjoy a few more pics from Old Union!
We thoroughly enjoyed our appetizer and highly recommend you add it to your trip. At just 30-35 minutes from Blue Ridge, it is close enough to shoot over for a morning round and still head back to HQ to change clothes, nap or eat between rounds.
While there are some other courses in the area, they're all going to be a little further drive, which is another reason this trip is more 'buddy' than 'golf'. We plan to be back, so let us know where we should go next if you play other places.
REASON #2 - ACCOMODATIONS
Of all the things we enjoy about planning trips, this has got to be one of the most challenging, yet most rewarding when you get it right. Every group is different in size and preferences, so the person that tackles this has a big job that can make or break a trip.
Let's take some of the guess work out of that for you and introduce you to... The Cabin Rental.
If you haven't met the cabin rental yet, you need to. Blue Ridge is littered with them, but we found a place that met our needs - and on short notice - at Georgia Mountain Cabin Rentals. Their property search tool was great, as is their staff. We found a cabin that checked all the boxes (close to course, closer to town, bedrooms, hot tub (a must to soak tired bodies), and more.
Throw in stuff like the game room with dart board and pool table, fire pit, indoor and outdoor dining tables to seat a small army and we were already planning the trip back after the first hour. Why? Because the place across the street was a mirror image of the cabin we stayed in and is rented by Georgia Mountain Cabin Rentals (GMCR) as well!
Take a peak inside and outside our rental for the weekend...
Both are just five minutes from Old Toccoa Farm and less than ten minutes from downtown Blue Ridge and all its cool breweries, wine tasting rooms and restaurants. More on that in a minute.
If you've got a larger group and need more beds, they have a third cabin in the same footprint that has a cool factor cranked up to eleven! Here are the cabins they have within five minutes of the course:
The Way Back (the one we picked)
Wood Haven (across the street from The Way Back)
Pick, mix and match to fit your group's needs!
REASON #3 - INTANGIBLES
If your group isn't the type to just golf and hang at the crib (cook your own food), then Blue Ridge is a pretty cool spot to explore. Sadly, we didn't get to experience much of it on this trip - sad only because it does look so nice. It's a growing mountain hotspot that has a lot of things going for it as mentioned above. We did drive through a couple times and it looks like so much fun!
BONUS GROUP ALERT!!!
Another 'trip grouping' we didn't focus on for this story - but one we could totally see fitting this area - is the good ol' fashioned family vacation.
Between the lakes, rivers, fishing, dining, hiking, rafting and more, there is SO MUCH to do for families in the greater Blue Ridge area. They even have a passenger train that takes people on a scenic rail line up to the border towns of McCaysville, GA and Copperhill, TN. Check out the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway for more on that!
The point of this is, Blue Ridge would be a great destination for the family vacation. Just make sure you save room for the clubs in the car and to sneak out one morning to play OTF! It's worth getting in trouble for!
Like Col. Hannibal Smith always said, "I love it when a plan comes together!" We didn't have much time to plan or stay in Blue Ridge on this run, but look how much we came away with?!? We certainly look forward to coming back - a rarity of the Golf Crusade - and exploring the courses and area again!
OLD TOCCOA FARM GALLERY
Combination of the two rounds we played. Pics appear in mostly random order. As you can tell, we like it! We hope you do to!
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