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Champions of Charm

By Kelsie Allen Barton | December 2, 2016 | Articles

When it comes to golf, there are three names that even novices of the sport can typically rattle off: Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. They’re some of the greatest legends to ever play the game, with 13 green jackets, 34 Major victories and 159 tournament wins among them. So it’s no surprise that when this talented trio decided to collaborate on a private golf club, the result was pretty spectacular.

Nestled amid rustling pines on 350 acres in Evans, Ga., just outside of Augusta—aka the golf capital of the world, and a just-over-two-hour jaunt from Atlanta—Champions Retreat is the realization of these iconic figures’ shared vision. The 27-hole course inhabits a former untouched timber plot and is broken up into three Nines designed by Palmer, Nicklaus and Player, respectively: the Island, the Bluff and the Creek. The immaculate tract of land hugs the banks of the Savannah River, offering breathtaking vistas and challenging yet fun play for golfers of all handicaps—beginners included!—for a truly one-of-a-kind experience.

But the uniqueness of Champions Retreat extends far beyond the links. Upon stepping off the course, golfers find themselves in a community of handsome, rustic cottages that are available for rent and individually accommodate anywhere from four to eight couples. Each cottage boasts vaulted ceilings and expansive windows for sweeping views of the property; a kitchen fully equipped with snacks, bevs and state-of-the-art appliances; luxurious king-size beds; spacious living and dining areas ideal for seating large groups; and access to fire pits and porches that lure the party outdoors. VIP treatment is available at every turn, whether it be a handwritten welcome note or sweet treats as part of the property’s turndown service.

Just a short golf-cart ride away from the cottages is the centrally located Grille House, which serves up sophisticated versions of comfort-food classics with a side of Southern hospitality. Waiters are friendly, knowledgeable and service-oriented as they deliver mouthwatering farm-to-table dishes, everything from the Champion’s Burger—a custom blend of Angus beef and short rib, pimento cheese, bacon and housemade pickles—to slow-braised Savannah River Farms pork shank to pan-seared rainbow trout coated in Georgia pecans. And with certified sommelier Doug Snyder helming the program as director of food and beverage, diners can expect top-notch recommendations for wine and cocktail pairings with every plate.

Champions Retreat staff are eager to arrange all kinds of adventures for members and their guests, whether a group is interested in an after-dark putting competition, a personal yoga session on the helipad, in-room spa treatments after a long day on the green, or live music and s’mores by the campfire on Deck 5 (located at the Island’s fifth hole, which overlooks the river). The club loves to foster camaraderie among members and guests, often throwing events such as Friday happy hours, Saturday football tailgate buffets and special tasting experiences. Additionally, the brand-new Barn at Champions Retreat, which debuted during Masters Week 2016, is the centerpiece of the golf club’s private-event capabilities, offering 10,000 square feet of rustic-chic space—think rough sawn pine walls and a grand fireplace, plus Pinterest-worthy glass-bottle chandeliers and copper dining chairs—for hosting weddings and other celebrations.

Although the club is rightfully revered for its world-class golf, those who have had the pleasure of spending a weekend (or longer) at the property would likely argue that its elegant amenities, delectable dining and gracious service rival the premier course. The seamless experience that Champions Retreat creates is best summed up in the words of the late, great Palmer: “There is not a better setting for golf in the South.” Open to the public for Masters Week 2017; young professional membership (ages 24-39) available; for inquiries regarding membership, golf, cottage rentals or events, contact, @champions.retreat


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