For golfers living in Georgia – or traveling through the state – who are looking for a high-caliber golf course that offers overnight accommodations, great food, and won’t destroy a budget, consider a visit to Chimney Oaks in Homer. Chimney Oaks is located on Old U.S. Highway 441, not too far off I-85 and a little over an hour from Atlanta. It’s a hidden gem that is quickly being discovered!
The course opened for play in 1998 as Scales Country Club and was designed by PGA TOUR Professional Mark McCumber and Mike Beebe. A few years later it became Hammer’s Glen Country Club before being morphed into what you see today. While the layout is quite challenging, the conditioning of the course is more akin to that of a private club than a daily-fee facility, and there are no better practice facilities in the state. However, it hasn’t always been this way.
Head Golf Professional Byron McCall remembers his first visit to Chimney Oaks. “The course was in pretty rough shape,” McCall said. “The golf course hadn’t been aerified in years and the greens were in serious need of replacement. The bunkers were filled with river sand and the clubhouse was an old farmhouse.”
My how things have changed! In 2018 new ownership took over – the third in about 5 years – and began the reclamation project. Brush was cut and cleared away, fairways and bunkers were cleaned up and groomed and the greens were replaced with TifEagle Bermuda. The club is currently in the middle of a complete bunker restoration project which is due to be completed later this year. Chimney Oaks’ efforts did not go unnoticed and in 2019 the club was rewarded with the #5 spot on Golf Advisor’s “Most Improved Golf Course in the US” list. In 2021 they made Golf Advisor’s list of the “Top 50 Courses in the U.S.”
Play the course these days and you’re sure to find impeccable playing conditions. Well-trimmed fairways and well-kept roughs lead to beautiful well-undulated greens. It’s a challenging mix of doglegs, placement shots, and a few water hazards thrown in for good measure. There is a lot of mounding just off the fairways and in the rough which can make for uneven lies. The green complexes are well-undulated and tend to be elevated with picturesque bunkering. The back 9 has several holes that are tree-lined and a few others with blind shots. There are a couple of holes where knowing where to hit your tee shot will pay big dividends in getting on or close to the green.
From the back tees Chimney Oaks plays 7,144 yards with a course rating of 74.4 and a slope of 138. The Forward/Ladies tees play 4,669 yards 66.4/115) while the Blue Tees play 6,361 yards (70.3/127). They will provide a good test for most golfers and still let you leave with your dignity intact.
There are several memorable holes at Chimney Oaks starting with a couple of short par 4s on the front side that can get you off to a great start or wreak havoc on your scorecard. Number 2 plays 310 yards from the White Tees and 339 from the Blue. It’s placement golf off the tee and will take the driver out of most players’ hands. There’s water straight ahead on the left side, so the goal is to hit your tee shot between the 150 marker and the water, and then play your pitch shot into a green that’s protected on the left side by water that wraps around behind the green, and a sand trap on the right. The green is long and narrow, and slopes left to right with a false front. It’s a fun little hole!
Number 3 is a 304-yard par 4 from the White Tees that may entice longball hitters to go for the green, although the smart ones will see the creek that crosses in front and lay up short of the water, leaving a short pitch shot into a small green with large bunkers in front and on the left.
The 8th hole is a challenging par 3 that plays 161 yards from the Black Tees straight downhill. This is where a rangefinder with slope comes in handy! The triangular green is protected by a creek in front, sand front left and another trap back right. The green slopes from back to front towards the water.
Number 11 is one of those tree-lined holes. This par 3 plays 159 yards from the Blue Tees into a small, elevated green. There are no hazards immediately around the green, however, anything hit long and left or right is probably going to find the creek and will not be playable.
The finishing hole at Chimney Oaks is a dogleg right par 4 that plays 390 yards from the Blue Tees and significantly downhill. Hitting your tee shot left of the 150-yard marker and taking advantage of the hill can easily add 50 yards to your drive. Beware of the large rocks in the ground on both sides of the fairway. The long, angular green is protected by a large green front right.
In addition to a top-rated golf course, Chimney Oaks Golf Club offers a full-length driving range and has the area’s only state-of-the-art practice/training facility. The Forge is an indoor golf training center that includes two Trackman bays with face-on and down-the-line cameras. Trackman is the most popular and effective training aid in golf and is perfect for taking your game to a whole new level. It can also be used as a golf simulator and allows you to play any golf course in the world virtually. Spend a few hours with some close friends, a few cocktails, and play your favorite golf course – virtually.
The professional golf staff at Chimney Oaks can use the Trackman system to fit you with the perfect set of clubs to match your golf swing, and, they have access to golf equipment from many of the game’s top manufacturers.
The restaurant at Chimney Oaks is called Oaks 148 and offers a menu that uses locally sourced ingredients to produce delicious and sustainable dishes. It says a lot about the food when non-golfers show up at the course just to eat. The menu features classic dishes such as wings, burgers, and salads as well as contemporary entrees like Smoked Brisket Quesadilla and Smoked Salmon BLT. With a warm and welcoming staff, you’ll always feel like you’re at home.
The clubhouse is brand new and offers “mini-suite” lodging facilities. The “Lodge” is located on the top floor of the clubhouse and overlooks the driving range. Six bedrooms share a common living space with a balcony and a fully equipped kitchen. Need more space? Chimney Oaks also has three single-family homes that can sleep 6 – 12 people. Not only is it a great place for a golf outing, but it can also host small weddings and special events.
The warm Georgia climate is a golfer’s dream and makes every day a possible golf day. It’s no wonder that more and more golfers are booking stay-and-play packages at Chimney Oaks. Not only are the golf and accommodations impressive, but the serenity, beautiful views from the deck, and charming southern hospitality set them apart. There is a myriad of things to do locally – hiking, shopping, lake adventures, entertainment, dining, and a lot of history to discover. You will most likely start thinking about a return visit and possibly buying your own vacation home a few hours into your visit. To book your next round or stay-and-play package, call them at (706) 677-3333 or visit them online at www.chimneyoaksgolf.com.