By Stan Awtrey
Turns out Ty Cobb isn’t the only notable thing about Royston, Georgia. Turns out they’ve got a fine golf course there, too. Highland Walk Golf Course at Victoria Bryant is also a Georgia Peach.
The 18-hole facility is one eight courses operated by the Georgia State Parks. Highland Walk is one of two facilities in northeast Georgia, only about an hour from metro Atlanta and a short drive from Athens.
It’s definitely worth the drive.
Once you arrive at the friendly facility, you’ll find a challenging golf course with hilly terrain that you’d expect in that part of the state. You’ll also find conditions that likely exceed your expectations, with quality fairways and excellent Bermuda greens.
Bill Shuster has been at Highland Walk since the place opened. The golf professional came to Royston and never left. He’s seen the course grow into one of the area’s most respected facilities.
“Highland” definitely describes the terrain. You’ll be playing up a hill or down a hill for most of the day, but there’s nothing monotonous about Highland Walk. There’s enough variety to keep everyone happy. It plays 6,421 yards from the tips, but that’s more than the average player needs. Our group played the gold tees, which measure 5,664 and that was plenty of distance.
Highland Walk is unique in that it plays to par 37 on the front nine, with two par-5s and one par-3. The back nine features three par-3s and plays to par 35.
The course opens softly, with a short, downhill par-4 that plays less than 300 yards. But don’t get fooled. It gets more difficult. After another docile downhill par-4, the difficulty gets ramped up quite a bit at the dogleg left par-4 third hole. No. 3 requires a stiff drive up the left side, which is lined with trees, and a well-placed drive can leave you with a mid-iron into the green. But if you get too aggressive and find the woods on the left, you’re almost certainly left with a double-bogey.
One of the most interesting holes is No. 4, a 497-yard par-5 that doglegs to the left. The interesting aspect is the split fairway that’s available. Playing up the right side adds to the yardage, but offers a more open avenue to the green. Taking the low road to the left features a fairway the side of a landing strip, with trees hovering on both sides. It’s smart to play the high side, but it’s more fun to take the fairway less traveled – and take your chances.
/The 15th hole is one of the longest in the state, measuring 601 yards from the tips. It’s advertised as a three-shot par-5, but may be more like a four-shot par-5. Not only is it long, it plays uphill and the trees on the left are intrusive to say the least. A par on this hole is a good score.
The signature hole is No. 17, a 374-yard par-4 that requires a drive over a ravine that cuts the fairway. And don’t get fooled by the false front, which could have you watching a short approach shot roll back to your feet.
The finishing hole is a long uphill (what else) par-4 that measures 487 yards, but plays much longer. The hole plays all the way to the top of the hill, where the clubhouse and that bottle of GatorAid are only a few steps away.
Highland Walk has everything you need. There’s a range to hit a few balls before the round and a putting green. A new fleet of carts is on the way. And the prices are good – just $43.50 during the weekdays for regular play, $40.50 for seniors.
It’s the sort of golf course you can play every day and not get tired of it. And isn’t that one of the best compliments you can give a place?
Highland Walk is part of the Georgia Golf Trail, as are all the Georgia State Parks courses.