Three spectacular courses set to host initial LOCALiQ Series events
July 27, 2020
By Stan Awtrey, PGATOURLA.COM
ALPHARETTA, Georgia—The new eight-tournament LOCALiQ series has found an ideal place to get started.
Georgia will host the first three 54-hole tournaments in the new series that the PGA TOUR’s International Tours created for its members. The sites for these three events may all be within the borders of the Peach State, but each one is quite different. One features a parkland design that plays along a large lake, another offers dramatic elevation changes and scenic views, and the last plays around quiet rolling hills and numerous spots of water trouble.
It is an ideal location for players from the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada and PGA TOUR Series-China to return to competition after having their seasons halted because of issues with COVID-19.
The LOCALiQ series will begin Aug. 4-7 at The Golf Club of Georgia here then travel a few miles to the north on Aug. 10-13 for the second event at the Echelon Golf Club. The final leg is Aug. 25-28 at Callaway Gardens in the historic town of Pine Mountain.
“All three are fantastic golf courses and each one celebrates a history of holding a wide variety of PGA TOUR, PGA of America, Georgia section PGA and other high-profile amateur events,” said Mike Paull, the executive director of the Georgia PGA. “It will be hard for the players to believe they’re still in Georgia. They will definitely be challenged.”
All three courses come with plenty of street cred.
The Golf Club of Georgia’s Lakeside Course which will host the LOCALiQ Series event. The club’s original course—the sister Creekside Course was added two years later—was designed by Arthur Hills and was named “Best New Private Course in America” when it opened in 1991. Several of Lakeside’s best holes play along Lake Windward, starting with the challenging 11th, with its green that seems to sit in the water.
The finishing hole is a par-5 that offers aggressive players a shot at birdie or even eagle—if they dare challenge the pond in front of the green.
“It will be a good test for their games,” said Charles Fox, the PGA professional at the Golf Club of Georgia. “Long game, short game, the greens are challenging. I think they’ll like it.”
The Golf Club of Georgia is home for numerous players from a variety of professional tours. During the COVID-19 shutdown, the club hosted a weekly tournament for those elite players and the winning scores averaged between 5- and 6-under each week, Fox said.
The club is best known as the host for the Georgia Cup, an 18-hole match that pairs the reigning U.S. Amateur champion against the reigning British Amateur champion the week before both will compete in the Masters. Participants have included Matt Kuchar, Sergio Garcia, Danny Lee, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Bryson DeChambeau and Viktor Hovland.
The club hosted the Nationwide Championship, a PGA TOUR Champions event, from 1995-2000, which Hale Irwin won twice. It has also hosted the Georgia Amateur, U.S. Open Sectional qualifying and an NCAA Regional. It is the site of the annual Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate Invitational hosted by Georgia Tech.
Echelon Golf Club is located less than 30 minutes away from The Golf Club of Georgia. The course, designed by Rees Jones, was originally intended to be the private Georgia Tech Club. But that was at about the time the economic recession hit in the mid-2000s and the club eventually became a daily fee facility. It continues to grow in popularity and was rated as the No. 1 public access course in Atlanta by Golf magazine.
Echelon can be a monster; the slope rating from the back tees is an attention-getting 154. It plays 7,558 yards from the tips, more than enough to challenge the skills of the professionals who will compete there. It will also test their stamina. The course has numerous dramatic elevation changes and is visually stunning, particularly on the back nine.
Echelon’s 13th hole, a 508-yard par 4, was recently named one of the area’s top 18 public golf holes by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The elevated tee shot must carry a broad, native area to a green that runs downhill and doglegs to the right. The 20-mile view from the tee box is one of the best around.
Callaway Gardens is easily accessible to Atlanta, less than two hours south and not far from LaGrange. Callaway Gardens is only a few miles away from Warm Springs, home of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Little White House, where the former president went for rest and rehabilitation.
Callaway Gardens has seen its share of golf competition, too. The resort hosted the PGA TOUR’s Buick Challenge from 1991-2002 and was one of the most popular destinations for the players and their families. It produced some big-name winners over the years, including major champions Davis Love III, David Toms, David Duval and Steve Elkington.
The resort has two courses, but competition will be on Mountain View, a 1965 layout designed by Dick Wilson. Mountain View isn’t overly long (7,057 yards, slope of 137), but the fairways are lined with towering pine trees and demand accuracy off the tee. The signature hole is No. 6, a 539-yard par 5 that requires dealing with water off the tee and on their approaches to the green.
From there the LOCALiQ series heads south to Florida. Players will compete in four other 54-hole events, then complete the schedule with a 72-hole championship. The winner of the final tournament and the top-two players on the final points list will receive sponsor’s exemptions into a 2021 PGA TOUR event.
“We have so many gifted, hard-working players who were anxious to play this season on their respective Tours before the effects of COVID-19 caused us to change our plans. To be able to provide this Series and these quality playing opportunities is very gratifying,” said Rob Ohno, PGA TOUR Senior Vice President, International Tours.