Most golfers have daydreamed about enjoying the sweet life of a PGA Tour pro.
We gloss over the endless hours of repetitive practice, the long odds, the anxiety, the years in Podunk minor-league towns, the left-to-right downhill knee-knockers on the 18th hole on Friday just to make the cut and get paid for the week.
In our fantasy, it's all Mercedes courtesy cars and oversized checks.
It is a fantasy, after all. But it's a fantasy that you can make almost real starting early next spring at
Reynolds Plantation outside Atlanta.
The highly regarded resort community on picturesque Lake Oconee has just opened as an East Coast branch of "the Kingdom,"
TaylorMade-Adidas Golf's whiz-bang, Tour pros-only club-testing-and-fitting facility with headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif.
Beginning in April, for $9,000 plus taxes and tips, you can spend three nights and two days not just being treated like the pros, but also being in their exalted company.
Days in Paradise
It's called "the TaylorMade Tour Experience at Reynolds Plantation," and here's how it works: You arrive at Reynolds and head to the Kingdom for an exhaustive club-testing and custom-fitting session for a full set of new TaylorMade sticks, from driver to putter.
The fitting employs a state-of-the-art motion-analysis system -- yes, the same one deployed on staff pros like Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Vaughn Taylor and Gary McCord, who have all visited the Reynolds facility -- that uses nine high-speed cameras, a computer and a launch monitor to collect and crunch any and all relevant information about your swing, warts and all.
Then you and no more than five other participants enjoy an elegant dinner with a TaylorMade tour pro -- David Toms, Joe Ogilvy, Kenny Perry, Scott Verplank and Hale Irwin are among those set to participate -- at your five-star accommodations, the
Ritz-Carlton Lodge at Reynolds Plantation. (I was there a few years back and in my mind's tongue can still taste the superb food at the onsite Georgia's restaurant, and I also remember fondly the gracious Southern hospitality and service on offer.)
In the meantime, TaylorMade staffers work feverishly to assemble your personalized set of sticks for use starting the next morning.
You'll be playing one of Reynolds' four outstanding resort courses, designed by Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio, Rees Jones and Bob Cupp. The tour pro will join you for nine holes and then for lunch, where you're free to ask him all the questions you wished the toady network announcers would, but never do. (Suggestion: Don't ask, "What's Tiger Woods
like?" It won't go over well.)
Following lunch, a teaching pro from either the Kingdom or the Reynolds Golf Academy, helmed by the well-respected instructor Charlie King, will give a two-hour group instructional session; afterward, you can opt for more instruction or an afternoon round.
My Kingdom for a Course
The Academy is an impressive place: 18,000-square-foot putting green; excellent short-game area to run through all those niggling little shots; vast practice range that includes places to work on your fairway bunker play as well as every manner of sidehill, uphill and downhill lie.
Or you can decide to go tackle one of the courses you didn't play that morning.
The thing about Tour pros is that once the event is over, they have to leave for the next tournament. You don't. So if that $9,000 hasn't put a crimp in your savings -- and if it has, you may not be the target market -- consider extending your Reynolds stay to a week.
After all, it will still take you a few more days to hit every course. And I'd be remiss if I didn't recommend that you also go off-property, just down the road, to play one of my favorite courses anywhere,
Cuscowilla Golf Club. It's a brilliant, flowing Bill Coore-Ben Crenshaw design and, years later, I can still recall every hole.
Even pros need to get away from the game to recharge the batteries, and there are no shortage of options for an extended stay here.
A massage at the Ritz-Carlton's sprawling spa will remove any kinks -- except the ones still in your swing.
Fishing is probably pro golfers' second-favorite pastime, and Lake Oconee is said to have the most fish per acre in Georgia, chockablock with catfish as well as largemouth and striped bass. Canoeing, kayaking and waterskiing are also available, as are tennis courts and handsome walking trails.
Or you just sit and read a golf instruction book by the Ritz's infinity-edged pool, excited about your custom-fitted set of TaylorMade clubs and new swing thoughts -- and thankful that you never have to make a left-to-right downhill knee-knocker to make a cut.
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Evan Rothman is a freelance writer living in Staatsburg, N.Y., and senior writer for
Golfweek. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Esquire, Men's Journal and other publications.