Augusta National hero

The golf competition that put Georgia on the Map

Guide to the best golf experiences near Atlanta.

Photo: Shutterstock
March 2024
Rarely do as many people have Georgia on their minds as the second Sunday in April each year, when the Masters is traditionally played.

Ask your most golf-crazy friend, or just someone in your social circle with decent knowledge of the sport, to tell you which flower gave its name to the 13th hole at Augusta National Golf Club and we promise you’ll get the right answer in return.


Many people can give quite detailed descriptions of all 18 holes on the legendary course even though they have never set foot in the state of Georgia. Every year, all golfers have the Augusta National on their minds for a few days as they, along with tens of millions of people around the world, are mesmerized by the television broadcasts of the first men’s major of the year—the Masters Tournament.

Although the Masters is the youngest of the four majors in men’s golf and also has the weakest field in the group, it is the one with the greatest impact. The competition is annually ranked among the ten most watched sporting events globally, and uniquely, the competition attracts more than just the most devoted fans, which is the crowd that golf televised live normally draws.

Golf swing
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How golf became so popular

Live coverage of the tournament began in the 1950s, and the charming American professional golfer Arnold Palmer was instrumental in popularizing golf in the United States. Half a century later, Tiger Woods made golfing history at the Masters when, at the age of 21, he won the tournament in 1997 by an incredible 12 strokes.

Whether it’s all the classic shots and moments of victory, the meticulously manicured, emerald green lawns, the aura that surrounds the strictly private Augusta National Golf Club, the evocative piano tones of the intro melody, all the beautiful azaleas and magnolias in shimmering hues around the entire course, or the iconic green victory jacket that builds the appeal of the Masters Tournament is anyone’s guess.

It’s probably all of the above.

Golf ball on green
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Tickets sold out in the 1970s

Yet for most, the Masters and Augusta National remain an unattainable dream. At both the Old Course at St. Andrews and Pebble Beach in California, any golfer who wants to can secure a tee time. To even step onto the grass at Augusta National, even as a spectator, is virtually impossible. A few tickets are made available through a lottery each year, but no general ticket sales exist. Regular tickets sold out in the 1970s and have been passed down ever since.

Also, Augusta National Golf Club only has about 300 members, so your chances of ever playing the course are probably based on getting to know Bill Gates, Condoleezza Rice, Warren Buffet, or some other member. Since 2023, the club has had at least one Swedish member, when Annika Sörenstam was elected.

But even if Augusta National can’t be part of your travel plans, there are still plenty of good reasons to choose Georgia as your base for a golfing trip to the American South. Pick up your rental car from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, turn on Ray Charles’s soul classic “Georgia on My Mind,” and let us show you some exciting golfing experiences in the area.

Sea Island Golf swing
Photo: Sea Island

The best golf around Atlanta

Reynolds Lake Oconee, Great Waters

Just over an hour east of Atlanta, roughly midway between Atlanta and Augusta, the Reynolds Lake Oconee resort has a number of first-class courses to choose from. The Great Waters course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, is often cited as the very best.

Sea Island, Seaside Course

A well-known course for hosting the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic, it is located on cozy St. Simons Island on the Atlantic coast, just over five hours from Atlanta. This is the best golf course in Georgia that doesn’t require you to know a member to get a tee time.

Forest Hills Golf Club

Of course, you’ll want to at least visit the city of Augusta and drive past the entrance to the Augusta National Golf Club on Washington Road. Forest Hills is just over two miles away, and while we shouldn’t make too many comparisons between the golfing experiences on these courses, Forest Hills is well worth a visit.

Aiken Golf Club

Now your friends are wondering why we’re recommending a course in South Carolina. Aiken is right on the Georgia state line, just 20 minutes from Augusta, and it’s a real gem. You can get on the course for as little as $30 at certain times and the design is both fun and varied.

Sweetens Cove Golf Club

Sweetens Cove Golf Club isn’t located in Georgia either but two hours northwest of Atlanta in southern Tennessee. But this nine-hole course is well worth the trip. The course will celebrate its tenth anniversary in 2024, and it has already achieved cult status in the more traditional golfing circles. Its location is so named because Swedish immigrants were the first to settle here in the 19th century.

Text by Oskar Åsgård