There’s a new signature design to accompany the six golf courses at Reynolds Lake Oconee, and the architect, Justin Jones, reports that the topography is “superb.” He was given a landscape of rolling terrain, water, grassland, trees and open space on which to design.
But there won’t be any golf shots struck on Jones’ course. Jones designed Sandy Creek Sporting Grounds, Reynolds’ new destination for everything from shooting sports and archery to fishing and hiking.
Jones is a Welshman who comes from a family of accomplished shooters. He has been involved in building and managing shooting grounds since age 19, when he joined the Jackie Stewart Shooting School at Gleneagles in Scotland. He also was involved in the design of shooting courses at The Greenbrier, Sea Island and Barnsley Resort in Georgia.
Sandy Creek’s cornerstone is the sporting clays course, which covers nearly 50 acres. “I’ve pretty much designed it like a golf course,” Jones said, discussing the options he has created like an architect describing the variety of golf holes in his newest layout. One of Jones’ favorites is No. 15, the pond shot. “We built a pier over the pond shot, and you shoot a couple of ducks coming into the pond,” he said.
The course is one mile in diameter, and Club Cars have been retrofitted with gun and cartridge racks to transport guests. A halfway house also is being built, should guests need refreshments before making the turn.
The beauty of Sandy Creek, as Jones describes it, is that there’s something for every guest. There’s a raised veranda with a five-stand of adjacent stations, and, with room to accommodate several dozen people, it’s ideal for groups. Next to that is an air-rifle range with knockdown targets.
There’s also an instructional area that accommodates rapid-fire team shooting. Good luck figuring out who hit which targets. “It’s organized chaos, but it’s terrific fun,” Jones said. “It’s a great end to a corporate day.”
Reynolds Lake Oconee even brought in stone masons to construct five Scottish grouse butts – semi-enclosed shooting stations.
If you prefer a quieter amenity, there’s a covered, five-station archery range tucked away in the woods, and three fishing piers on the lake. Guests can rent kayaks, canoes and rods.
Jones anticipates the bulk of Sandy Creek’s business will be with families and corporate groups, but there will be instructors available for one-on-one lessons. All Sandy Creek activities will be guided.
Jones said he was given 800 acres on which to build and used less than a quarter of that. “This is just Phase 1,” he said. He anticipates the addition of an off-road driving school a ropes course, and perhaps other activities.
“You’re going to find this is one of the finest sporting grounds anywhere when we’re finished,” he said.
(Note: This story appears in Golfweek’s Ultimate Guide.)