While fans are not allowed at the Masters this week in Augusta, the rest of the Georgia Golf Trail is welcoming, and Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa should be high on the list to stay and play. While safely checking in last month, the throaty roar of engines echoed outside. An exotic car club had booked their stay and the Maseratis, McLarens, Porsches and Ferraris were revving up to hit the twisty mountain roads. Drawing fascinated onlookers as they warmed up around the resort drive, envy grew with each passing loop.
No worries, within the resort there are plenty of distractions for the other guests, golf of course being the main focus. Director of Golf and PGA Pro Steve Phelps started us off with the course’s story. An Indian village was discovered during excavation, so they met with the state and tribes. Some of the 400,000 artifacts are displayed in the resort gallery outside of the pro shop, most were returned to the seven Cherokee clans then they buried the village and built around it. They agreed not to mow the sacred area but may annually burn it down. Consequently, the vegetation and florals create quite a wild garden. Turtles are believed to have saved Cherokee lives during the creator’s great flood. While the ponds and lakes on course serve as live turtle havens, turtle shaped tee markers pay tribute to the native heritage.
The mountain top number one tee descends to the valley where the Denis Griffith design loops around so that golfers might feel like they are immersed in a bowl of fruit loops during peak foliage season. Two words might best describe Brasstown – big and bold. On the wide fairways long drives are a premium from any of the five sets of tees. Mountains tower above the course. Steve noted that the west mountain is an indicator for rainy weather on the golf course and it proved to be true. When it was shrouded in smoky clouds, we donned our rain gear and played on. General Manager Charles Burton joked that since it is a Scottish links course, a bit of rain is appropriate. In any weather, it is well conditioned with super scenery and simply a fun run.
Charles hails from Roanoke, Virginia and says this is just like home. Brasstown Bald in the Blue Ridge Mountains is actually Georgia’s tallest peak, approaching a mile high with glimpses of four states. Fall foliage is stunning. Brasstown Valley’s Dining Room windows face this glorious view with an open veranda seating option. Fine fare is reasonably priced, no jackets required. Jeans are smart casual attire for a laid-back meal with the sun setting over the mountain. Meatloaf is distinctively comforting with a blend of grass-fed Wagyu, American bison and ground veal smothered with mushroom gravy. Fresh local mountain stream trout griddled with lemon herbs satisfies a lighter appetite’s desire when the rolls are irresistible. We’re adding Brasstown Valley honey butter to our culinary repertoire – simply soften the butter and whip with a drizzle of honey and a dash of minced scallions.
Peepers serenade in the evening as outdoor firepits flame the mood. Indoors, a grand fireplace warms the lobby beneath mighty antler chandeliers with a bar tucked in the corner. Plush seating is spaced for safety. We shared travel tales with a venturous young couple from Nashville while still distancing. They attended a cooking class earlier and highly recommended the horse trail ride. They planned to check out a local winery the next day. We had no time for either this trip, but we spotted some happy riders in the pasture above the stables before departing the next day. Options range from hand-led kiddie rides and 4.5-mile scenic trail rides to hayrides with smores.
The Equani Spa looks exceptional for tranquil treatments with unique rituals of the Cherokee people and a labyrinth for contemplation. Brasstown Valley also has a premier conference center when large gatherings become acceptable again. Ten minutes away is Lake Chatuge with a marina in Hiawassee, famous for its fairgrounds, antique mall and wine cottage for local tastings. This special region of Georgia’s Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains is attracting more and more homeowners seeking nature’s solitude in a beautiful setting. With less than a 20 hour stay we fell in love with Brasstown Valley and hope to return to explore more of the mountain beauty in and around Young Harris on the Georgia Golf Trail. http://www.georgiagolfandtravel.com