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Fazio Course at Barnsley Resort, North Georgia

Godfrey Barnsley immigrated to America from England in 1824, and his affluence in the South encompassed both shipping and cotton interests, enabling him to purchase 4000-acres of land in Northwest Georgia. The same property changed hands in 1999 and the new owner commissioned Jim Fazio to develop an 18-hole golf course. Playing golf in the foothills of Adairsville offers scenic vistas, elevation changes, and the challenge of hitting shots into tight fairways.

The Fazio course is layed out over a generous 378-acres, making a motorized cart a necessity for any round of golf. The course is 7200-yards at its maximum length, which is deceptive since it blends in well with the natural landscape. On the back nine holes, the cart path undulates as it crosses hardwood bottoms in between ridgelines that define the Barnsley Resort property. At these highest elevations, hiking paths and horse trails intersect, revealing other ways that guests at Barnsley Resort can get outdoors and look back down the hill towards the campus.

The opening two holes of the Fazio course favor a links design since they meander through the relatively flat terrain of a valley. The third hole is the first of the par-3 holes, which are a hallmark of this course, offering the temptation for an easy par while yielding scores over par for any wayward shots. The third hole begins a steady diet of elevation changes for the remainder of the course, but the narrow green demands an accurate tee shot or you risk losing a golf ball. The course is carved out of the local landscape, and going into the rough typically equals going straight into the hardwoods that populate the area.

The fourth hole looks like a canyon to the Lowcountry observer, and demands the ability to execute sidehill and uphill shots in order to reach the green. There is no dishonor in hooking or pushing a shot from one of these treacherous lies, especially if you are visiting from an area with zero elevation changes. Golfing basics like choking down on your club and swinging down on the ball to make good contact will be called upon for any shots that don’t go straight down the middle. The same undulations and dramatic drop-offs that make for tough golf shots are also what makes some of these golf holes exquisite.

The Fazio course is open to the public, and it also sells memberships to locals, and sees a fair amount of traffic coming in from Atlanta which is just one hour South of Adairsville. The Bermuda grass on the greens putts true, but it’s the speed of the greens that make them tough, with the 18th green playing the hardest since it has three different levels. Approach shots to any green must factor in elevation changes, with uphill shots demanding a higher club than normal, and downhill shots requiring less club. Factor in the wind and you’ve got the making for some fun swings throughout your round, the kind that make playing golf with your buddies a hoot.

The cooler temperatures of October make the foothills of Georgia an appealing place to play golf, but for those with the inclination to stay a day or two at the resort, then certainly other outdoor options can be added. Their equestrian facility offers trail rides and is also home to the Barnsley barnyard farm animals. In fact, I saw several goats along the 10th hole of the golf course, where they are fenced into the woods to provide natural clearing without the use of chemicals or equipment. Other wildlife I spotted on the course included a great blue heron, Cooper’s hawk and a signature white swan that resides on a pond by the clubhouse. Regulars shared that seeing deer and turkeys along the course is always a possibility.

Canoeing and fishing in the largest pond by the 18th hole is another way to channel your outdoor heritage, while utilizing the backdrop of the Fazio course. For those not as interested in spending hours in the sun, Barnsley Resort has a full service spa, a history museum and even a fitness center. Rose gardens, grape arbors and the ruins of the Barnsley mansion are all just an easy walk away from your cottage, so the more time you spend here the more you find to do. Start your plans by visiting the Internet at www.BarnsleyResort.com or call the golf pro shop at 770-773-2555 and ask for pro Chase Rutledge.

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at LowcountryOutdoors.com

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (360 Posts)

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com