WHERE MANKIND AND MOTHER NATURE LIVE IN HARMONY
By Mike May
While millions of outdoor enthusiasts — walkers, hikers, bicyclists, birdwatchers, boaters, fishermen, and zipliners — have been visiting Callaway Gardens since the resort opened in 1952, golf remains the number one athletic attraction at this resort.
When you step foot on the first tee at either the Lake View course or the Mountain View course at Callaway Resort and Gardens (17800 U.S. Highway 27, Pine Mountain, Georgia), get ready for an exciting and eye-opening adventure. Your next four hours should not be solely consumed with your pursuit of eagles, birdies, and pars while trying to avoid bogeys, double bogeys, or worse. While playing golf will be the focal point of your Callaway excursion, it’s important to take note of the flora and fauna that help shape and define this golf experience. Even the city where this resort is located has a name which personifies the rural experience – Pine Mountain.
The overall golf experience at Callaway Resort and Gardens, one of the 20+ locations on the Georgia Golf Trail, is truly impacted by the plant and animal life which thrives and survives in this area of western Georgia.
“Without a doubt, Callaway Resort and Gardens is one of the jewels of the Georgia Golf Trail,” said Doug Hollandsworth, founder, Georgia Golf Trail. “This resort offers as much to do for the golfer as the non-golfer.”
While Callaway Resort and Gardens was built for visitors to get some R & R, there are some ‘residents’ of the property who don’t pay for their room or board, yet they are an integral part of the Callaway experience. Those ‘freeloaders’ are white-tailed deer, turtles, Eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies, Eastern bluebirds, gray squirrels, red-tailed hawks, mallard ducks, Canadian geese, great blue herons, red foxes, grey foxes, wild turkeys, and the Georgia state bird, the brown thrasher. It’s worth noting that the bluebird nest boxes, which you will see on both golf courses, actually serve two purposes – one for the bluebirds and one for golfers: (1) they are homes for these colorful cavity nesters and (2) they serve as 150-yard markers along the golf course.
Callaway Resort and Gardens is also filled with a wide variety of flora as the property is overflowing with trees, plants, and flowers to see, smell, and admire such as the rare plumleaf azalea, which is the Callaway Resort and Gardens’ floral emblem.
Lake View opened in 1952, the same day that Callaway Gardens opened for business. The Mountain View golf course, which has been open since the mid-1960s, hosted a PGA Tour event — the Buick Challenge — from 1991 to 2002.
As you play both courses, take notice of the loblolly pines in the surrounding forests. The loblolly pine is the chief pulpwood source in Georgia, but the ones at Callaway Resort and Gardens remain untouched. Other significant plant life include the climbing muscadine grapevine, southern magnolias, Yaupon holly, and longleaf pine. The climbing muscadine grapevine has purple thick-skinned, fall-ripening fruits, which are commonly seen in sauces, jellies, and preserves. The story about southern magnolias at Callaway is impacted by love. Decades ago, Callaway Gardens founder Cason Callaway presented his wife, Virginia, with a gift of 5,000 southern magnolia seedlings which were planted throughout the property. The Yaupon holly is a native evergreen which provides food and nesting sites for many songbirds. And, long, “pompon” needles characterize the longleaf pine, which once dominated Pine Mountain Ridge.
In addition to the variety of plant life, animals roam freely across both golf courses, though they do their best not to be seen by mankind. Keep an eye out for red fox, gray fox, gray squirrels, Eastern fox squirrels, wild turkeys, and white-tailed deer, which is the largest mammal at Callaway Resort and Gardens. The deer are often spotted in the early morning and early evening hours, grazing along the edges of the fairways. The gray squirrels live acrobatic lives as they are seen moving and flying among the treetops, as they go to and from their large, leafy nests. The ponds and lakes are filled with mallards, Canadian geese, great blue heron, bufflehead ducks, and two types of turtles – plate-size yellow-bellied sliders and palm-size stinkpots.
Even the fishing pro shop and hub of boating operations at Callaway Resort and Gardens has an ‘outdoorsy’ name: the Kingfisher Outfitters, which is located below the very popular Gardens Restaurant.
In addition playing golf at Callaway Resort and Gardens, visitors can also go biking, boating, bird-watching, fishing, hiking, swimming (in a pool or in a lake), or play a few sets of tennis.
When making the trek to Callaway Resorts and Gardens, pack a suitcase as there are many accommodation options. They include the spacious, first-class Lodge and Spa; the Mountain Creek Inn, which has a classic hotel feel; the Mountain View Golf Cottages, which overlook the practice facility; the Southern Pine Cottages, which are nestled in the woods; and the Mountain Creek Villas & Vacation Homes, which are perched in a more natural setting. Each accommodation option comes with free admission to Callaway Gardens.
So, when you are ready to see the magnolias, get a glimpse of the azaleas, see wild turkeys, and play two great golf courses, visit Callaway Resort and Gardens. To reserve your time or inquire about golf packages, call 1-800-852-3810 or access http://www.callawaygardens.com/golf.