Located about 75 miles from Georgia's Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Reynolds Lake Oconee is unlike any travel destination that this writer has been visited before. Set along 30 acres of shoreline, the overall Lake Oconee area has six championship golf courses on its grounds. The Reynolds Lake Oconee property -- which includes a Ritz-Carlton hotel on-site -- has received top honors from Forbes, AAA, U.S. News & World Report, GOLF Magazine, and Condé Nast Traveler alike.
Prior to travelling to Reynolds Lake Oconee, I had golfed on only one occasion. That occasion -- which occurred on the Wild Turkey Golf Course at New Jersey's Crystal Springs Resort -- was not a pleasant one. It was largely a combination of being slowed down by a party ahead of us, being rushed by club management which thought that our party was the slow party, and getting questionable looks from other golfers for being beginner-level players.
And prior to golfing at the Wild Turkey Golf Course, I admittedly did not have a positive outlook on the sport of golf. Sure, I loved Happy Gilmore and recently wrote a story about the wonderful organization known as the Mediocre Golf Association, but I never "got" why it is that millions of people view golf as an activity of simultaneous relaxation, recreation and general interest.
However, after traveling to Reynolds Lake Oconee and speaking with a group of journalists that cover golf resorts and/or the sport of golf as a whole, I now "get it." Below and on the following pages are 5 of the reasons why I not only appreciate golf but also see myself returning to another course in the near-future to give golfing another chance:
#1: Golf is the great equalizer
In golf, one's handicap is a numerical measure of a golfer's potential ability. It is used to calculate a net score from the number of strokes played during a competition. In turn, thanks to the concept of handicapping, two people of very different skill levels can play a round of golf against one another in both a fair and competitive manner.
Explained Dan Vukelich, Editor of New Mexico Golf News: "Golf is humankind's longest target game. Players direct a ball over hundreds of yards. Aiming at anything longer and you're either trying to kill it or blow it up."
Added Vukelich: "Even when I'm playing badly, I make it a point to look around, at the clouds, the trees, the manicured fairways. I smell the grass. I hear the birds chirp. And I think that they went to all this trouble to create this beautiful outdoor space for my enjoyment. Sometimes, that brings me back."
Further to the fact that golf is an inclusive sport, Joe Barks -- Editor of Club & Resort Business -- noted: "The Topgolf phenomenon is bringing new players into the game, especially millennials, by adding technology -- chip-based 'target golf' -- and more fun -- like music, food and drink -- to help break down the perception of golf as a stuffy, old-white-man sport and serve as a good introduction to how it can be an appealing recreational/exercise alternative."