The Chateau Elan Golf Course opened to great acclaim 1989. There was finally an upscale golf course that was available to the public in the Gwinnett County area and the opportunity was embraced by everyone who had access to a 6-iron.
The Braselton course remains as good as ever. The Chateau Course – as well as its sister Woodlands Course that was added in 1996 – remain popular for daily-fee golfers throughout the region. It’s easy to explain: a good layout, good conditions and a fair price.
Both Chateau Elan courses are now part of the Georgia Golf Trail, a diverse group of quality courses that can be found throughout the state.
Information on the Georgia Trail is available at GeorgiaGolfandTravel.com.
Griffiths a master designer
Chateau Elan was designed and built by architect Denis Griffiths, who now makes his home there. During construction it wasn’t uncommon to see Griffiths in the driver’s seat of an earth moving machine, shaping the fairways just as he envisioned.
Griffiths’ quest wasn’t to make an 18-hole monster that was unplayable for most visitors. He was looking for a playable layout that would be interesting and keep players coming back.
“That’s our goal, to have 18 good golf holes and not three great holes and six bad holes,” Griffiths said.
That mission is accomplished at Chateau Elan, a par 71 that’s long enough to challenge the serious players who stake out the ground at the back of the tee box, but short enough to be playable and enjoyable for average players and seniors. Five sets of tees range in length from 7,030 yards to 5,092.
Chateau Elan is a course that makes you think. Yes, there are places where you can whale away, but Griffiths forces you to contemplate the target off the tee and consider the approach for your second shot.
A perfect example is the second hole. The dogleg right par-4 takes a 90-degree turn as it crosses a creek. Big hitters can try to fly the water, but there’s no room to bail out and the risk heavily outweighs the reward. A safer play is a 160-180 yard tee shot that sets up a straight 150-yard approach to an open green.
Griffiths is always messing with your mind. Water comes into play on 10 of the holes and some times it just tempts you to take it on. Other times it’s the bunkers; Griffiths is a master of illusion and makes a golfer imagine there’s more – or less – to a carry.
Excellent par 3 selection at Chateau
There are four solid par 3s on the course, with No. 8 being especially tough from the back tee. There you emerge from a chute of trees and typically hit into the wind. Fortunately, there’s a big green waiting for you.
One of the top holes on the back nine is No. 14, a 400-yard par 4 that finishes to an elevated green guarded on the right by a rock formation and occasional waterfall. It’s both lovely and dangerous.
The final four holes are excellent and offer scoring opportunities. The 15th is a medium-length downhill par 5 guarded by a pond. The 16th is a par 3 from an elevated tee box to a large green. (This is the hole that’s visible from Hwy. 211.)
The 17th is a quirky par 4 that offers players a chance to layup for a 150-yard approach or try to bite off more real estate to a riskier elevated fairway. This is a hole guaranteed to leave you scratching your head and wondering how you could have played it differently.
The 18th is a grand hole that offers players a chance to let out the shaft, greeting them with wide fairways. The approach shot is launched toward an large elevated green guarded on both sides by sand traps.
“I’m really fond of No. 18. I love it as a finishing hole,” Griffiths said. “From my perspective, it’s almost the epitome of a perfect finishing hole.”
Chateau Elan remains an outstanding golf course today. The fairways are very good and the rough isn’t overly penal. The greens hold shots and roll true. The practice area, which also houses the Dave Pelz Scoring Game center, is excellent.
With its record of excellence over three-plus decades, Chateau Elan remains a quality destination for golfers.