Course Review: Trophy Club of Atlanta (Alpharetta, GA)

September 20, 2011

After about a 13-year hiatus, I recently had the opportunity to return to a good golf course in Alpharetta known as the Trophy Club of Atlanta. At 6:52AM on a Thursday morning, the course was only $29/person on Golfnow.com, so I decided it was a good chance for me to return. Before my review, I’ll give a little background to this club.

For those who don’t know, there have been several major players in the Atlanta golf scene over the years. Most of the conglomerations end up dissolving somehow. The current such conglomeration is Canongate Golf Clubs, which has privatized many courses around the perimeter of the city of Atlanta, specifically bringing in distressed public and formerly independently private clubs with the allure of corporate funding. Although it’s a neat idea, it hasn’t panned out well as the membership rates have continued to dwindle over the years. Before Canongate, Eagle Greens had purchased a number of courses in Northeast Atlanta (between Atlanta and Athens, generally), but they went out fast in a blaze of glory.

However, before all of these was a small coalition of courses known as the Champions Club. Champions Club originally owned Champions Club of Gwinnett, Champions Club of Atlanta, and Champions Club of Appalachee. The “Champions” logo went under and was rebranded under new ownership, the “Trophy Club.” The Trophy Club of Gwinnett eventually cut out of the group and became the Country Club of Gwinett. The two remaining Trophy Clubs were eventually bought by mega-conglomerate American Golf Corporation. I’ll spare you all a rant on American Golf Corporation, but needless to say, they’re not one of my favorite management companies.

What does this mean for today? Well, not a whole lot. The course is what it is. However, what it tells you is that the course shares a shell with some “sister” courses in the area, all being similarly short, tight designs that are generally well-laid out and fair. Understanding these things can let a player know whether to go to either of the other two courses, assuming the player forms an opinion after playing one of them.

The reason I haven’t played this course in 13-or-so years is not because I dislike the layout. In fact, I have played Country Club of Gwinnett many times in the last few years (not since this blog started, though. Maybe I need to return. Hmmmm). It’s just that 1) it’s in Alpharetta, which is a ways from my usual stomping grounds, and 2) it used to cost far too much. The only reason I played it before was that I had a junior golf tournament there. I still remember driving out with my dad. The course was pristine back then. I played terribly but I remembered the course well. Some of those holes stuck with me all this time. Quite an interesting memory.

But enough mumbo jumbo…on to the review.

Trophy Club of Atlanta (in its current iteration) is a public golf course in Alpharetta, GA. The course features champion bermuda greens which both my playing partner and I found to be unbelievably challenging in that their speed on downhill putts was TREMENDOUSLY faster than the speed on uphill putts. Although they are certainly well-kept, it seemed as if breaks were very hard to read because the influence of the hills was so tremendous. A downhill putt would roll so quickly that it didn’t take the break. An uphill putt was very much influenced by grain. Those who read our blog regularly know that LG and I are very into putting, and a good putting experience (not necessarily putting up great numbers, but enjoying our experience) is important to an enjoyable round.

What I did find interesting is that, at 6700 yards from the tips, the course is an interesting 72.5 rating. Many of the holes are short but tight, requiring precise driving to keep the ball in play. My playing partner and I hit a lot of irons off the tee (and, I’m sad to admit, many of them were very poor). While it’s a completely different feeling from hitting drivers all day (which can wear you out mentally), it certainly wasn’t easy.

The upside to this, however, is that the greens for most par 5s were reachable for me, even from the back tees. Of the four par 5s, I hit 7-iron right of #2, 5-iron just short of #9, 6-iron onto #10, and 3-iron onto #18 (into wind). I do hit the ball fairly long (drives in the 310-range), but two of the holes were manageable even if I didn’t have quite the length advantage that I do.

Interestingly as well, the course plays around a rather large man-made lake in the center of the property, just like Country Club of Gwinnett, with other holes winding through neighborhoods. Shot making is pretty critical, and it just so happened that I had a good ballstriking day, but keeping the ball in play is CRITICAL on this course.

At $29 with cart, the course was definitely worth the cost.

As always, however, I must state that there are several drawbacks. First, the greens. Bermuda just sucks. Any course that has it is not going to get much credit from me. So far, the only course I’ve played where the bermuda was not noticeably different from bent was at East Lake Golf Club (site of the Tour Championship). Even there, however, the underpinning of the surface was VERY hard, so stopping the ball on approach shots (especially with V-grooves) is not an easy task. These greens were highly variant in speed from one green to the next, and many breaks were unreadable due to the influence of the grain on the speed. Lipping out 10-foot putts is not a fun way to play the game, and it happened to me all day. Additionally, the rough is inconsistent. In some places, it was no different from the fairway, in others it was hardpan, and in others we literally lost balls because they were sitting down in the thick shrubbery. Although I don’t mind SOME risk/reward holes where I might have to take out a 5-iron on certain days, the par 4s on this course were abominably short. Only 3/10 par 4s on the entire golf course (we played the first hole from forward tees on the starter’s request) were over 400 yards, and the ones that were shorter were WELL short–339, 326, 367, 374. While the layout was interesting, there were many spots where you could get in A LOT of trouble without knowing it would be so bad (just like Country Club of Gwinnett, which now I am feeling more and more like I should review). A few trips around the course doesn’t guarantee you’ll know where to hit it either. It had good elevation changes on some holes and really ugly layouts for others. And many of the holes played too close to houses.

All-in-all, the course was definitely worth the price of admission. If it weren’t so far away, I’d probably go back. But knowing it has bermuda greens makes me more hesitant about getting back out there.

Price: 8/10
Condition: 7/10
Greens: 6/10
Green Stimp speed: 7/10
Layout: 8/10
Value: 8/10
Proximity to Atlanta: 5/10
Overall: 7/10

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7 Responses to “Course Review: Trophy Club of Atlanta (Alpharetta, GA)”

  1. RR Says:

    JK: You are a blog-posting machine. Stop making LG jealous with your golf outings. Don’t you have a kid?!!

  2. LG Says:

    ….droooooool…..

  3. mcneil Says:

    played yesterday, I agree, the green look great but do not like the way putts roll on Champion Bermuda greens. Free of ball marks

  4. golf god Says:

    Its funny reading inept knuckle heads like you reviewing golf courses. You should try working on the Golf course for one week (I highly doubt you would make it one day) maybe then you would be a little more educated on what it takes to operate a course. The mere fact you have no Idea why courses are going to Bermuda is comical, probably because of your total lack of knowledge of the game of golf. Keep swinging away, whining and blaming everything and anyone but yourself for your lack of ability. That seems to be your greatest talent.

    • JK Says:

      Yikes.

      Although I considered simply deleting what would otherwise be a worthless comment on your part, I decided it would be a good idea to use this opportunity to let our readership know of our qualifications for reviewing golf courses since you decided to put it in question (not that anyone needs qualifications to have an opinion of a golf course, but, nonetheless). I personally have played the game of golf for over 20 years. I’ve worked in the golf industry not only on the equipment side but, yes, also working on a golf course for a little over a year (yah, I made it more than a week). I currently play to a 0.6 handicap and putt at about 30.5 putts per round. The great bulk of my play has been in the Atlanta area (as I’ve lived there primarily for the 20+ years I’ve been playing the game of golf), and I’ve played nearly every course–public or private–in the Atlanta area at some point (including playing this course twice–once shortly after it opened and once for this review some 10 years later). When reviewing any course in the Atlanta area, my reviews are couched against what I’ve seen at other courses, so my experience in playing basically every course in the Atlanta area gives me enough background to judge a particular one (I think).

      First off, no one is blaming the course for any effect on play. I shot 75. At a 0.6 handicap, that’s about 1.5 shots more than I should have taken. Not exactly getting burned. My review was about the conditions of the course, which were substandard. Second, I never said I don’t know why courses are going to bermuda grass greens. I said a course that does this will get little credit from me. Heat in Georgia is no joke, and the ability to keep bent grass greens without burn out or fungus is a difficult task. However, the result of going to bermuda is a less than enjoyable experience for the golfer. Courses are short-sighted in this approach. Bermuda has its own challenges, not the least of which is managing the grains. Champion bermuda grass is, in my opinion, a poor surface. The TifEagle and MiniVerde seem to have figured out the dwarf bermuda, but Champion, to me, has not. The Champion grass tends to be wider leaf and much grainier, especially when it is allowed to grow out once or twice (as happens when we get torrential rains in Georgia). I could go on all day, but that really isn’t the point. The point is, I know what I’m talking about.

      Next time you decide to call someone out for being an inept knuckle head, choose wisely. I know you internet tough guys need a place to throw your insults. This blog is not it.

  5. Jared Says:

    Great blog!


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