Located less than 20 miles north-east of Augusta, the Tom Fazio designed Sage Valley Golf Club was founded by real estate developer Weldon Wyatt, and unashamedly built in the mold of Augusta National. The club is set within an undulating forest of longleaf pines, the 500-acre site originally owned by a timber company, who also sold Wyatt an additional 1,000 acres to act as a buffer zone and ensure the facility remains totally secluded.
Despite having a large lake and enough elevation change for interesting golf, this was an expensive course to build as Fazio transplanted hundreds of fully grown trees, planted azaleas and other flowering shrubs and installed the latest air-circulation system beneath each green to ensure perfect year-round conditioning. As consultant architect at Augusta National, Fazio has a great feel for the aesthetic characteristics that make that particular property so beautiful, and his landscaping work at Sage Valley is of the highest order.
Flowing naturally through the tall pines, the course features generous fairways, quick, sloping greens and attractive bunker shapes, that are often used more to frame the hole than to present strategic issues. Although none of the holes could be accurately described as poor or uninteresting, only a few really get the golfing juices flowing. The opening stretch is where most can be found. The 1st is an exciting starter that falls substantially to the fairway below, while the 2nd is a gorgeous par three dropping across part of the main lake to a stunning peninsula green framed by some of Fazio’s transplanted pines. The 3rd is then a fine driving hole that doglegs left around the lake. The second shot down to the 5th green, the tempting short par four 6th and gently rising closing hole are among the other noteworthy moments.
Despite lacking the really distinctive and exciting golf holes that you find at the truly great venues, Sage Valley is a pretty solid layout and superior to most of the other modern Augusta-clones in the South.
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