Stone Mountain Golf Club
by John Kim
Stone Mountain Golf Club (managed by Mariott Golf) offers two eighteen hole layouts that are as different as they are challenging and enjoyable. The original layout, Stonemont
, is a classic Robert Trent Jones Sr. layout that is as stern a challenge as you'll find in Atlanta. The newer layout, Lakemont
, is a John LaFoy creation that offers a strong test of skill in its own right. Lakemont's front nine plays along the mountain and lake and offers some of the most scenic holes in the Atlanta area.
Setting up your round: Despite being a resort course, Stone Mountain gets plenty of play from locals who find their layouts appealing and their location convenient. The course also hosts several outings and local tournaments. The good news is, with two layouts, getting out on one typically isn't too difficult. Next day tee times aren't too hard to get during the week, weekend times need to be booked further ahead.
When you arrive: The pro shop is consistently voted one of the top clubhouses in the country. No kidding. It isn't huge, but it is packed with all kinds of goodies, including usually some great bargains. There is a full service restaurant and a grill area as well. The putting green is just outside the pro shop, but the driving range is a somewhat far away. You'll need a cart to get to the range, though it is fairly close to the first tee of both courses. There is an additional practice green and practice bunker near the range.
Hole you will love: On the Lakemont course, there are several spectacular holes to choose from. My favorite is #5, a short par 4 that yields lots of birdies, and offers a very scenic setting. A fairway wood or long iron with a slight fade should put you in a wedge distance of a green that sits alongside the water. Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson gaze down on you as you line up your putt. On the Stonemont course, Hole #2 is one of the few "breather" holes on the course. A short par 4 that can be driven by long hitters, a mid iron and wedge will yield plenty of birdies as well.
Hole you won't: If you struggle with par 3s, Stone Mountain will eat your lunch. On the Lakemont course, there are 5 par 3s. #6 is as difficult a one as you will find in North Georgia. Playing 225 yards (from the back tees), there is water in front, all the way down the left, and behind, with a large rock wall guarding the right side of the hole. You're almost better off hitting it into the water than to the right. On the Stonemont course, #6 is also a par 3. This one is also 220+ yards (again, from the tips), and though not quite as penal as it's counterpart on Lakemont, you'll still see plenty of big numbers here.
Overview: If there were no big "rock" to draw people to the park, you could still create a buzz with these courses. These are two of the better tests of golf in the area. If you are not a single digit handicap, I'd urge you select what tees you play with great caution. That being said, these are also two of the more enjoyable layouts as well. The courses offer good conditions, good prices, and all the amenities you could hope for. If you score well here (whatever that means for you), you can really stick your chest out a bit and know you played some good golf. I thouroughly enjoy the challenge every time I come out. Higher handicap players should try the Lakemont course first, but you can't really miss with either. Bring plenty of golf balls and a good attitude, and you'll have a great time. You can take my word for "granite".