By David Theoret
It’s getting to be that time of year again, the time of year when all eyes in the golfing world stare directly at Augusta, GA and the PGA Tour’s first major of the season.
Augusta, GA is certainly a well-known golf destination. Outside of that course that very few will ever have the privilege of playing, there are a number of great local tracks that the public does have access to. One of these courses 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 then in 1984, the Arnold Palmer Company redesigned several holes to accommodate construction of the Augusta University Athletic Complex. In 2004, the course was restored to its original design and has remained that way ever since.
There’s a lot of history behind Forest Hills; it’s where Bobby Jones started his Grand Slam of Golf in 1930. It’s also home to the 2010 NCAA Division I National Champions Augusta University Men’s and Women’s Jaguar Golf Teams, a feat which the Men’s Team repeated again in 2011. Several PGA Tour Professionals also played here during their college careers including Phil Michelson and Davis Love III.
Men can choose to play from 5 different sets of tees ranging from 7,140 yards (course rating 74.3 and a slope of 137) to 5,098 (65.3/115). Most guys will find that the White Tees (6,183/70.1/126) will provide them with enough of a challenge that they can still leave with a little dignity. Most women here play from the Silver Tees (5,098/69.9/121). No matter your skill level, just choose the tees that are right for your game and you’ll have a great time.
The golf course at Forest Hills features a variety of holes, some straight, some turn to the right and others dogleg to the left. Water only comes into play on the two par 3 holes on the back, other than that, there’s no wet stuff to worry about. The greens are not too fast and roll true.
This gently winding dogleg right that plays downhill and features a variety of trees on the right side including dogwoods, magnolias and pines and a sparse pine forest on the left. The green is fronted by a single bunker that guards the front right side of the green and slopes gently from back to front with a lot of undulation. A middle pin position can lead to low scores so be sure to check the pin sheet.
From the White Tees, a good drive down the right side will easily clear the fairway bunker and can lead to a low score. Others can choose to play out to the right and short of the fairway bunker on the right and then hit a layup shot over it and short of the deep bunker that guards the right side of the green. This is a pretty golf hole.
This is perhaps the most scenic hole on the golf course. It starts off with a blind tee shot, slightly uphill. Trees line each side of the fairway, creating a narrow passage way and a lone fairway bunker guards the right side off the tee. I’m sure it sees its fair share of balls. Your second shot plays downhill and is also blind and leaves an approach shot to a smaller two-tiered green. There’s not a lot of trouble on this hole, just hit three solid shots to get there and it’s easy!
This monster par 5 plays straight downhill, with fairway bunker left and trees to the right off the tee. Number 11 also features some 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 about 40 yards short of the green, awaiting any short approach shots. The green is oddly shaped and has a lot of undulation in it. Par is good.
For a hole that’s pretty straight forward, this one can give you fits. Number 16 plays over water and slightly uphill, perhaps a half to one club longer than normal. Short is better than long as there is plenty of room in front of the green, which is flanked by bunkers on both sides. Anything over the green makes for a tough up and down.
It’s not often that a golf course ends with the easiest hole on the course but that is exactly what Forest Hills does. Your toughest chore on this hole is to keep your tee shot in the fairway as it can get very narrow in the landing area. A good tee shot will leave a short pitch to a large green with bunkers front, left and right and trees long.
Forest Hills offers a good time for golfers of all ages and abilities with wide open fairways, magnificent trees and putting greens that roll fair and true. From the back tees, Forest Hills will challenge even the best of players and the five sets of tees make it playable for any level of golfer. With all of the pine trees, rolling terrain and not much water, 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 live in the Augusta area or plan on spending a good deal of time there, Forest Hills offers eight different membership plans, so there is something to suite everyone. All memberships include green fees, complimentary usage of the driving range and a two-week advance booking on tee times. They also receive a 15% discount on merchandise other than golf clubs, golf balls, and Augusta University Jaguars gear.
If you plan on being in the area that magical Master weekend in April, be sure to book your round early at Forest Hills. They are running some great Masters Week Packages which include greens fees, cart, range balls and a boxed lunch, all for one low price. You’ll also see some 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.
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