Reynolds Lake Oconee: Defining The Georgia Lake Country Lifestyle

Written by Executive Golfer

LAKE OCONEE, GEORGIA: The Masters at Augusta National, with azaleas and dogwoods in full bloom, signals the beginning of the spring golf season. One can almost smell the sweet Georgia pines and freshly mowed fairways. For more than 25 years, many from around the world have taken their first “swings of spring” at Reynolds Lake Oconee, located less than an hour from its famous neighbor.

Founded as a rustic retreat 100 years ago, and famous for three decades as Reynolds Plantation, the 10,000- acre property is known today as Reynolds Lake Oconee, a world-renowned golf destination where success was fueled by the emergence of Atlanta as one of the fastest growing cities in the country and the new capital of the South.

Today, Reynolds, owned and operated by MetLife, is a private resort community with six championship golf courses, 10 restaurants, a 251-room Ritz-Carlton hotel, miles of lake and Lake frontage, and more than 2,400 residences.

“The Atlanta airport is just over an hour away.Incredibly, 80 percent of the country can be here on a non-stop flight, with an easy drive down I-20 out to the lake,” said Dave Short, senior vice president of marketing and sales. “We have a private club social infrastructure; a magnificent, tree-lined lake; low-density neighborhoods with front-row golf views; and a luxurious Ritz-Carlton Resort sitting right in the middle. Reynolds is a well-rounded community with all the amenities and services anyone could desire. I frankly don’t see a comparable community in the Sunbelt.

“MetLife’s real estate portfolio has always been regarded as of superior quality, and Reynolds certainly fits that bill.  We have dozens of homes under construction, our referral sales have more than doubled, and real estate sales are up 30 percent year-over-year since MetLife’s acquisition. There is a certain swagger here, and you see it when members bring friends on property. As with other top clubs, we are built from within, and we see that happening here every day,” summarized Short.


World-class golf, boating, and lake activities may be the best-known attributes at Reynolds, but its appreciation of culture and the finer things in life is also apparent.

The Linger Longer Living Series, headed by Marie Garrison, arts and cultural director for Reynolds, provides a broad selection of cultural lifestyle experiences for residents and guests.

“Each year we orchestrate 75 diverse cultural events that are not available, at any price, to the general public,” proclaimed Garrison. “Our members enjoy learning, whether it is an interest in knowing more about our area’s history or adding a new hobby.

“My goal is to have a full calendar of varied events that meshes education with entertainment. It is a term I fondly call ‘edutainment.’ Among other things, we bring bestselling authors, events, and curricula that energize the broad interests of our members and their families.”

If you have a special interest, there’s a good chance Reynolds has a club for it. “If we aren’t already doing it or planning it, or having someone who has done it talk about it, it’s only a matter of time,” said Garrison.


By any measure, Reynolds is a huge golf operation. A staff, led by 20 PGA professionals, serves 3,000 golf members on six courses, managing multiple on-site game-improvement platforms and club operations.

“We organize more than 200 club events each year for a wide variety of member-groups,” said Mark Lammi, PGA Master Professional and director of golf operations at Reynolds. “We are particularly proud of our junior golf initiatives that attract a whole new generation of golfers.

Our junior programs are a complement to our collegiate tournament, The Linger Longer Invitational, a major college event now entering its 11th year.”

Lammi and his staff aggressively support the growth of the game by encouraging families to play together. “Rob Bowser, our lead instructor, has activated after-school programs. During the summer, his staff runs a robust schedule of junior summer camps and complimentary family clinics,” reported Lammi.

Along with other junior initiatives, this summer Reynolds will host one of the premier junior events in the world—the AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions, showcasing the stars of the future. “This is a huge honor for us,” said Lammi. “These are the best-of-the-best players in the American Junior Golf Association and are not only the golf stars of the future, but leaders off the course, as well.”

The newly expanded Reynolds Kingdom of Golf, presented by TaylorMade, is the only game improvement center of its kind on the East Coast.

“We integrated swing assessment technologies with hands-on PGA TOUR caliber club fitters and the instructional prowess of ‘Top-100’ instructor Charlie King,” detailed Lammi. “Our TaylorMade club building center makes the Kingdom the only place in the country where golfers can have a full set of TaylorMade clubs built on premise outside of Carlsbad, California [global headquarters for TaylorMade]. At Reynolds, we offer the very best in golf from every angle of the game.”


“The first time we visited Reynolds, I caught a glimpse of my kids, mid-flight, jumping off the end of the dock. I have been hooked on the lifestyle ever since,” said an enthusiastic Lon Grundy, general manager. “Our future is bright. Reynolds has enjoyed success for nearly three decades, but it is critical for us to keep the community relevant for people of all ages.

“Our newest restaurant, The National Tavern, is an example of how investments have prepared us for generations to come. It has a hip, edgy rhythm to it that’s a terrific addition to our campus. The food is best in class, the atmosphere is blue-jean informal—my kids love it—and the vibe just draws you back. We have the right setting and formula for future growth. Few communities in the world can match our combination of amenities built by a developer with a long-term vision that stretches decades into the future,” said Grundy.


“We are often described as the sixth clubhouse at Reynolds,” said Ralph Vick, general manager of The Ritz- Carlton. “I doubt there are more than a handful of private clubs in the world that boast the social energy a Ritz- Carlton provides. The benefits for members are immense—from fireworks over the lake, multiple terrific restaurants, our lakeside summer concert series, to our magnificent spa. Don’t be surprised after you’ve enjoyed a sweet tea and a touch of our graceful service indigenous to the South, you are screaming across the lake on a jet ski, or paddleboarding in one of the gentle coves that lie adjacent to the hotel. I must admit,” stated Vick, “although we are bustling with activity, once in a while there is nothing like enjoying our signature pulled-pork BBQ nachos, then sneaking away for a few minutes to chill in one of our lakefront hammocks.”


It’s common for new residents to report that golf attracted them to Reynolds, and it was the lake that caused them to put down roots.

The club has four full-service marinas and last year the staff serviced 4,500 member boat launch requests.

“Give us 30 minutes and we’ll have your boat ready, fueled, stocked, and gurgling away in the water,” said Charlie Vaughn, who recently celebrated 20 years as the director of marina services at Reynolds. “We take care of the heavy lifting and if you are here for an extended week-end,  that can literally double your time on the water.”

For members who don’t own boats, the club has a fleet of watercraft available for rent. Everything, including fuel, is offered, creating the ultimate turnkey lake experience.

“For a growing portion of our members, an afternoon on the lake is becoming a habit,” reported Vaughn.

“Since the opening of Lake Oconee Academy, a blue ribbon, top-50 school in the country, we have many families storing their Bowriders and Wakesetters here and, when school lets out, that energy spills into the water,” said Vaughn. “With 350 miles of shoreline and hundreds of fingers and coves, they have plenty of water to play on!”


The landscape budget at Reynolds would make most golf course superintendents green with envy. With 1,000 acres of green space, the grounds crew maintains miles of

turfgrass and thousands of perennials each year.

“Proper conditioning is critical,” said Lane Singleton, vice president of agronomy. “When golfers discuss their day, it’s great to hear them brag about green speed and overall course conditioning. We love that. In the coming weeks, spring arrives at Reynolds. In the Georgia Lake

Country when the willows start to dance around and the azaleas open up and blaze away, I know then things are kicking into high gear and the Masters is approaching.”


Reynolds, like its famous neighbor just up the road in Augusta, also has a handful of cottages that are for member and guest use.

“We love to share the Georgia Lake Country life when we can,” said Dave Short, “and between our cottages or a stay at our Ritz-Carlton hotel, you’ll get a taste of what ‘living like you’re on vacation’ is all about. “And, just like so many families have found, you might never want to leave.” 

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