by John Kim
Take I-85 north (from Atlanta) to exit 126, turn left, go to third gate on the left. Call 678 425 6050 for further help
Introduction: Chateau Elan is often noted as a winery and a resort. Yes it has one of the best spas in North Georgia, but even more importantly, it has two Denis Griffiths courses for the daily fee public, and both are spectacular. The conditions are typically top-notch, and the layouts are as challenging and enjoyable as you will find within the immediate Atlanta area.
Setting up your round:
Chateau Elan enjoys a great reputation for putting on top tier tournaments. If you are ever looking for a host for your corporate outing, look no further than here. That sometimes makes it tough to get a tee time for the daily fee player, be sure you call ahead. The good news is, rarely are both courses unavailable for play. The Chateau course was the original course here for the public, and can be considered the "easier" course. The Woodlands course is just as scenic but probably a bit narrower. Both offer plenty of challenge and are equally enjoyable, if you have to pick, try the chateau course first.
When You Arrive: Two putting greens, a large driving range with tons of practice flags to sharpen your skills, and a practice bunker will get your game ready. A top tier golf shop and restaurant/grill area will also meet your every need.
Hole you will love: On the Chateau course, you will love Hole #12, a medium length par 3 reminescent of another famous #12 par 3 in Augusta. It's all carry over water, you will have to adjust to swirling winds, and though it's not easy, it's somewhat of a breather in a killer run of tough par 4s. On the Woodlands course, hole #9 is a short par 5 that plays shorter than many par 4s in the area. If you can hit it straight, you can have a career hole here. Anything higher than a par on this hole will be disappointing for most.
Hole you won't: It's a gorgeous hole, but it's a potential round killer. Hole #14 on the Chateau is long, narrow, and has the most treacherous 3 tiered green you will find. Admire the waterfall running up to the green on the right, it might be your best memory of the hole. On the Woodlands course, the toughest shot you'll face all day is your tee shot on the par 3 #2. It's a long iron over water, through trees, to a green with a false front and guarded by bunkers. If you're going to miss, miss long. I've seen shots hit pin high on the left roll all the way back into the drink.
Overview: People quiz me sometimes why I drive "all the way up" to Braselton to play golf (about 45 mins from downtown). First of all, it's not that far, and secondly, when you play here, you'll realize why. As with all courses, you can decide for yourself if the drive and price are worth it, but if you haven't been up to try, you're depriving yourself of a great golf experience. I think the vast majority of golfers will agree, Chateau Elan rightfully sits among the best courses that the area can offer.