Reynolds Lake Oconee, home to six unique golf courses and the Reynolds Kingdom of Golf presented by TaylorMade, is a thriving golf community. In the mild Georgia climate, play is continuous, with club tournaments and group golf events dotting Members’ calendars year-around.

For those new to the game (or Reynolds), becoming integrated can seem a bit daunting. Pamela Shelley, Head Professional of The Creek Club at Reynolds Lake Oconee, understands the importance of keeping golfers of all abilities and handicaps engaged. To help encourage Members who may be new to the game, she instituted a 4-hole league at The Creek Club in 2018.

Open to men and women, the league meets on Monday afternoons during the fall and spring seasons. Hear from Pamela as she discusses her inspiration behind founding the league and its benefits to Members.

What was your thinking behind starting a 4-hole league at Reynolds Lake Oconee?

As a PGA Professional, I have worked with a diverse group of golfers ranging from scratch handicaps to very beginners just starting out. The latter is the group that needs frequent engagement to keep them interested and to help expand their knowledge of the game. I began to notice that many of my true beginners were spending time practicing on the range, but felt inadequate to move up to the golf course. I realized I had to find a way to engage our freshmen of golf and encourage them to take the next step.

How does the 4-hole league work?

At Reynolds, we have a men's golf association along with women's 18-hole and 9-hole leagues; but all of those are far too intimidating to the first-time golfer. So, the idea to implement a four-hole league seemed like the perfect concept. Each week, our PGA Professional staff forms teams on Monday afternoons at 4 p.m. (a time when tee times can't typically be sold due to daylight savings). We take the four-holers out to play a four-person scramble, starting from the 100-yard marker the first week and increasing by 50 yards each week.

What are some ways the league can acclimate a novice golfer to the game?

The pressure is taken off the individual by playing in the team format and they can see that there are plenty of other beginners in the same boat. They see that it's okay to make bad swings and realize how rewarding it is when they take a good shot that improves the position of their team

Do you do anything else to add to their experience?

Before the shotgun start we meet for 30 minutes for "Pro Tips.” These can range from how to mark your ball on the putting green, to being conscious of pace of play, to setting up for a better tee shot. We usually give out some small favors during the instruction part of the afternoon, like a consolidated rule card, logoed ball markers, or even a sleeve of balls. Complimentary beverages are also provided on the practice tee during the instruction time to encourage them to relax and see this as a true social activity.

How is the experience rewarding for you?

It’s always rewarding to see people fall in love with the game of golf. More than that though, I love seeing the friendships that have been formed amongst our Members through the game. After most of our leagues, Members will go up to our Crow's Nest happy hour spot in The Creek Club clubhouse to wait for scoring and have a drink. Many friendships and foursomes have been formed through this league.

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