North Fulton Golf Course in Atlanta, GA
Tee Time: August 13, 9:30, 88 F, Calm
Designer: Chandler Egan, 1935
Playing Partners: Nicholas Carroll
Tees: Blue, Par 71 (71.9 rating/126 slope/6,570 yards)
Course Handicap: 13 (11.3 index)
Stats: 93 (49-44); 38 putts; 5/14 fairways; 5/18 greens; 3 penalty strokes
North Fulton Golf Course in Atlanta is a deceptively tough track, especially for an average public golf course. The course on the whole plays fair and doesn’t cost you any unnecessary strokes if you play well, but bad golf is punished. The vegetation lining every hole is thick almost to the extent of being impenetrable. There are hazards that do come into play and force second thoughts on strategy before teeing off. The greens have tricky breaks that even after the second round in as many days, I still had no clue to what any one putt might do. I swear some broke one way and then the very next putt darted in the opposite direction. The layout, however, is pretty bland. No holes really stand out as memorable and most play either straight away or with slight dog-legs. The creek does snake throughout the course and every appearance it makes is in a spot perfectly located to swallow even well-struck shots. Snake is the operative word there, as numerous signs warn of cottonmouths and deter all but the most desperate from treading past the red stakes.
The front side plays harder on this course, mainly because of hole #’s 5 and 9. The par-5 5th, bending left over 487 yards, requires accuracy off the tee. Not just for trying to reach in two, but also to keep double-bogeys off the scorecard. The first shot needs to be a fairway wood straight up the gut. Too far left or short and it’s wet. Too far right and it’s on a practice range. Too long and it’s with the walkers in the Atlanta woods. The tiny landing area makes your second shot need to be perfect to reach in two, probably with a 3-wood at the minimum. A large dogwood tree on the left influences the shot shape to get around it and a front-sloping green taxes your short game. The par-4, 388-yard 9th hole doesn’t look hard on paper. But it plays very uphill and the second shot ranges from 160-200 yards to a green protected in front by a wide bunker and downhill chips waiting over. It takes another 5-wood or iron to avoid the seemingly omnipresent creek and the large green sits atop the hill just waiting for your three putts.
The closing nine at the North Fulton Golf Course plays a little easier. The elevation changes play more in the golfer’s favor with lots of downhill tee shots to wide fairways. Tough holes to wait, however. The par-5 10th runs narrowly along the boundaries of the property for its entire 488 yards with O.B. on either side. The long, downhill par-4 15th gets the creek on the left and through the middle of the landing areas and is the most likely hole to cost you a $4.99 brand new Pro-V1. The 17th is the most fun hole on the course, especially with the tees playing up 20 or so yards to really bring the creek into play off the tee. From there the water can be carried with a great shot, or conservatively laid up and assuring this 491-yard par 5 has to be played in 3 shots.
Overall, North Fulton Golf Course is more fun than many muni-type courses in comparison. But a lack of memorable holes, the entire set of 4 par-3’s was particularly bland, make this track better suited for practice rounds if you need to gear up for something bigger. The course allows you to play a wide variety of shots if you feel like it and the grass of the rough and fairways does play similar to other courses in the South. I could see a beginning or weekend golfer being able to improve over multiple passes through these grounds.
#18, Par 4, 446 yards, 2-handicap, My Score: 5
The finishing par-4 18th hole is a monster that seems completely out of character compared to the rest of the course. It requires length off the tee, preferably down the right side to get a favorable roll. From there it still could be a mid to long iron uphill to a flat green. While the distance is the real reason this hole plays so tough, trees do line the right side of the fairway and a greenside bunker waits on the left, which really comes into play often with all of the lies that force balls that way. If the weather hasn’t been too muggy, you might still have the strength and a dry grip on the driver to launch one out there and make a par. Otherwise, good luck.
Amenities: C; the snack bar is well stocked and the putting green is useful. Not having a driving range hurts a little, but the real negative is the staff possessed the charm and kindness of the local DMV.
Difficulty: C+; not overly tough, but the woods lining the course are thick, several holes have tricky elevation changes and the greens can run fast
Scenery: B-; the Atlanta skyline is visible throughout most of the course and the surrounding park and running trail provides a nice backdrop to the round, especially when some of Georgia’s sexier females jog down the path.
Value: B; for the price of $28 for residents, the track could be a great value at $5-10 cheaper for 18, but it is fairly priced in comparison to similar public courses.
Overall: 2.73 (C+); this golf course mainly loses points for the grumpy staff, because it is a decent course and provides a few fun holes that make the round worthwhile. While it shouldn’t even be a top-10 course for the region, it is playable.