By: David Theoret
It’s that time of year again, when all eyes of the golfing world stare directly at Augusta, Georgia and the first major championship of the season, The Masters.
The area is certainly a well-known golf destination. Outside of Augusta National, the course very few of us will ever have the privilege of playing, there are a number of great local public courses. One of these is Forest Hills Golf Course, an 18-hole Donald Ross masterpiece that has been repeatedly named “Best Public Course” by Augusta Magazine.
Ross designed Forest Hills in 1926, and the Arnold Palmer Company redesigned several holes to accommodate construction of the Augusta University Athletic Complex in 1984. The course was restored to its original design in 2004 and has remained that way since.
Forest Hills is steeped in history. Bobby Jones began his quest for the Grand Slam in 1930 with a victory here in the Southeastern Open in March. A plaque in memory of Jones inaugural victory of that historic year quotes him as saying,
“I played my finest golf of 1930.”
It’s also the home course for the 2010 and 2011 NCAA Division I National Champion, Augusta University Men’s Golf team.
Five various tee options range from 7,140 yards (course rating 74.3 and a slope of 137) to 5,098 yards (65.3/115). All will provide an adequate test of golf for any skill level.
Water is not an issue at Forest Hills. It only comes into play on the two par-3 holes on the back nine. The greens are not overly fast, roll true and are always well maintained.
No. 6, a par-5 measuring just 487 yards, is perhaps the most scenic hole on the golf course. It starts with a blind tee shot and slightly uphill. Trees line each side of the fairway, creating a narrow passage and the lone fairway bunker guards the right side. The second shot plays downhill and is also blind, which leaves an approach shot to a smaller two-tiered green.
No. 11 plays the opposite. This par-5 monster plays downhill, with a fairway bunker on the left and trees to the right. The hole also features unique grass mounding in the middle and right side of the fairway that needs to be avoided on your layup shot. Two fairway bunkers sit 40 yards short of the green, awaiting any poorly struck approach shots. The green is oddly shaped and undulating. Par is good number for your card.
The round wraps up with the par-4 18th, the easiest hole on the course. The toughest chore on this hole is keeping your tee shot in the fairway, as the landing area is very narrow. A precise tee shot, with a hybrid or long iron, will leave a short pitch to a large green with bunkers on three sides and trees over the back of the green.
Open fairways, magnificent trees and well-maintained putting greens provide a wonderful golf experience. From the back tees, Forest Hills will challenge even the best of players, but the five sets of tees make it playable for any level of golfer. With all of the pine trees, rolling terrain and few water hazards, Forest Hills has a Carolina Sandhills feel to it.
Before your round, be sure to visit the driving range, where you can hit every club in the bag prior to your round. There’s also a bar and grill to celebrate in after your round as well as banquet facilities.
If you plan on being in the Augusta area the week of The Masters, be sure to book a round at Forest Hills. They are offering Masters Week Packages which include greens fees, cart, range balls and a boxed lunch, all for one low price. You will also find great specials on pro shop merchandise.
For more information or to book your next round, visit them online at www.theforesthillsgolfcourse.com or give them a call at (706) 733-0001.