Archive » June 21, 2012
Golf & Travel
By Ray Navis, Contributing Writer
In the lower foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, about an hour from the heart of downtown Atlanta, lays the upscale Barnsley Gardens Resort, a sportsmanís paradise. Championship golf, horseback riding, fishing and hunting are all available with exceptional fine dining choices to boot. The exclusive gated setting reminiscent of private retreat with a cozy village feel.
The setting The location of Barnsley Gardens is as rural as Atlanta is cosmopolitan. It is no wonder that well-to-do city residents flock to this country setting, which is sure to relax. The lush green rolling terrain here is heavily forested, providing an abundance of wildlife to observe. Barnsley Gardens is close to Atlanta, Chattanooga, and Birmingham and has a rich Civil War history. This is a return to the elegant estate life for which the South is famous.
The resortOnce you make it past the gated entrance alongside the 1st fairway the village atmosphere becomes more and more apparent. The accommodations are set amongst 36 unique cottages designed by Andrew Jackson Downing. This configuration can offer 90 individual guest rooms but often visitors take on a whole cottage. The cottages feature extensive wood and brick finishes, hardwood floors and the bathrooms even include Clawfoot bathtubs. The interior furnishings are upscale and what you would expect in an elegant southern home. Each dwelling is walking distance from the golf course, pool and spa.
We dined at The Woodlands Grill that overlooks the 9th and 18th holes on the golf course. The food and service were excellent for the several meals that we enjoyed there. For lunch, we had fish tacos and a veggie burger, which were prepared in a manner fit for a 5-star restaurant. At dinner, I tried the red fish, one of their most popular entrees. It melted in my mouth and was one of the best seafood meals I have ever tasted. They have an extensive wine list and there is an elegant bar area to enjoy a pre- or post-meal libation. For an even more upscale dining experience, try the Rice House with its stone fireplaces and natural-lit sun porch. Reservations are a must at the Rice House.
The golfThe General Course was designed by Jim Fazio, brother of the famed golf architect Tom Fazio. The layout follows the rolling terrain and offers several huge elevation changes usually handled with downhill par 3 holes. Set on some 378 acres, there are no structures in sight, only nature and the feathery creatures of the arboreal dell.
The closing holes on each nine are both memorable. The 9th can stretch out to 549 yards and dog-legs to the left. A bold play off the tee will allow the big hitter a go in two, but the entire approach is guarded by water on the left. The 18th is even more taxing and tips out at 452 yards. This meaty par 4 is again a dog-leg left, with a lateral hazard guarding the drive to the left. From here, the second shot plays uphill to a steeply pitched green. Par here will win all bets and make the trip to the clubhouse lounge a pleasant journey. The Golf Club also has an excellent practice range where we happened to see a family of deer stroll by.
The activitiesThere is plenty to do here for those who do not play golf. The pool and spa overlook the course and are quite spacious.
Canoeing and Kayaking are available on the propertiesí own lake. Horseback riding for all ages can be found at the stables with guided pony rides for the little ones. Bicycling or hiking are good ways to get familiar with the layout, which includes 12 miles of trails. Sporting clays and upland bird hunting are available at nearby Spring Bank Plantation, which encompasses 1800 acres. Fishing is also on the menu.
The resort also has its own Museum attached to the properties Ruins, which houses numerous Civil War artifacts. The Ruins used to be part of the main house and a complete history of the property is available at the museum. Barnsley Gardens Resort is about an hourís drive from the Atlanta International Airport. Visit BarnsleyResort.com for further details.