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Reynolds Plantation a 'hidden gem'
Golfing Gwinnett

OK, so this place isn't in Gwinnett.

I'll admit, up front, I have never been there to judge for myself - I'll gladly go on your dime. I just re-gripped my irons.

But I trust Conde Nast Traveler knows its stuff and it ranked this place as the fifth best golf resort in North America.

About a two-hour drive from this county, tucked up against the Lake Oconee about halfway between Atlanta and Athens along Interstate 20 sits the Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation.

It offers 99 holes of golf and each of its courses boasts their own fully functioning clubhouses and the courses were designed by the likes of Bob Cupp, Tom Fazio and Jack Nicklaus.

"We've got a real hidden gem out here," said director of golf Mark Lammi.

The only catch is to play the courses you have to stay at the Ritz-Carlton Resort. But that makes the Plantation a close destination for golfers here to take a long weekend, play quality golf and not waste most of that vacation time driving hours away or risking your clubs to the arduousness of air travel.

And since it's a resort, if you're a member of a golfer-non-golfer family there are plenty of options to keep spouse or kids busy while out on the links.

The Plantations offers spa services, bike trails, boat rentals on Lake Oconee and, of course, swimming.

"It is really an all-encompassing resort although golf has been the main focus," Lammi said. "People come here in that situation (with both golfers and non-golfers). We have couples coming in and they do just that, where two will play golf and two will do the spa."

Though the resort has been a secret of the area for some time, in recent years its national draw has grown with the addition of the Taylor made Performance Lab and a private golf academy managed by Charles King, one of Golf Magazine's top 100 golf instructors.

But none of that really matters. The draw of this place is the golf and our proximity to it.

It's a place to get away and play a course other than your home track. Because no matter how perfect your home course is, there is always an added thrill to playing somewhere new where every distance and tree and trap aren't etched in your brain.

And even if you stay a few days, you can get that feeling every round.

"We can't claim to have any one of the best golf courses in the state," Lammi said. "But what we do have is the best collection of courses in the country."

Norcross boy second in Grand Championships

John Stembridge of Norcross shot a 4-over 217 to finish second in the boys 15-17 division of the Atlanta Junior Golf Association's Grand Championship at Chateau Elan.

Stembridge finished just one shot back of winner Randy White of Canton who shot 3 over for the three round tournament.

Finishing behind Stembridge in the boys 15-17 division were Lilburn's Kris Chong who finished in the top seven, Lawrenceville's Sean Bolen (T-13), Suwanee's Marc Edel (17th), Lawrenceville's Robert Evans (22nd), Dacula's Matt Youmans (T-25), Lilburn's Peter Kim (T-36), Lawrenceville's Andrew Sterritt (T-36), Loganville's Travis McAllister (T-53) and Norcross' Jonathan Lynn (T-56).

In the girls 7-18 division Suwanee's Gina Kim was the only local finisher, shooting a 290 to finish fifth.

Norcross' Jason Mendel was the top local finisher in the boys 12-and-under division, shooting a 249 to finish in the top nine. Finishing behind Mendel were Lilburn's Andrew Stolorena (T-11), Suwanee's Brennan Bogdanovich (13th), Suwanee's Bailey Ulp (15th) and Duluth's Landon Hoffman (17th).

Nikhil Lakhanpal of Duluth finished in the top 16 in the boys 13-14 division followed by Suwanee's Chris Rajek (29th) and Lilburn's Michael Stolorena (33rd).

Yang top 10 in Women's Amateur

Suwanee's Louisa Yang shot an 11-over 227 in three rounds to finish sixth in the Georgia Women's Amateur at Augusta Country Club.

Yang's 11 over was 15 shots off winner and hometown favorite Laura Coble who recorded the only under-par score of the tournament at 4 under for the week.

Local finishers behind Yang include Ginette Spinucci of Stone Mountain who finished tied for 12th, Darlene Werhnyak (14th) of Lawrenceville, Jean Dawson (24th) of Suwanee and Deana Atkins (T-34) of Dacula.

Golfing Gwinnett is a weekly column that highlights golf in the area and welcomes contributions from courses and individuals. To be included in the column, fax information to 770-339-8081 or e-mail to ben.beitzel@gwinnettdailypost.com.