By Tim Ferguson
Whenever I venture outside Morgan County and tell people I’m from Rutledge, the most common response I get is: “Oh, that’s where Hard Labor Creek State Park is. I’ve played the beautiful golf course there.” That beautiful golf course is The Creek at Hard Labor Creek State Park, a tremendous asset to Rutledge.
Thousands of people come to play the course year-round, many coming from metro Atlanta and throughout the southeast. Their busiest time of the year is Masters week, when golfers come from all over the country to play the course during the Masters. Throughout the year many of these golfers venture into the restaurants and stores of Rutledge, bringing commerce to our city. The course is very attractive to travelers because of its close proximity to I-20. Each spring The Creek hosts the Georgia Peach, one of the largest girls’ junior golf tournaments in the state. It also hosts the Georgia Junior Golf Tour and Atlanta Junior Golf events. The Creek has hosted the high school region and state tournaments and is the home course of the Morgan County High School Bulldogs, whose end-of-season banquet is held in the grass between tee box No. 1 and the No. 9 green, a magnificent backdrop for that event.
The Creek is a top-notch golf facility and everyone is made to feel welcomed. Whether someone is newly learning the game of golf or plays many times a week, they feel comfortable. The prices make it affordable for anyone. There are youth golf camps, a driving range and you can arrange lessons with a teaching professional at the clubhouse. When I visit The Creek I see friends, families and couples of all ages spending quality time together. Some of the more avid local golfers can be seen many times a week and one gentleman is a fixture on the driving range almost every evening. The local members test their skills on Saturday, Sunday after church and Wednesday in tournaments known as the “Dogfight.” A group of local ladies plays every Tuesday and enjoys lunch at The Caboose after their round. What a blessing it is to have such a great facility in a rural area.
On Knox Chapel Road, approaching the course, there is a driving range where deer can be seen most evenings and a spacious parking lot by the clubhouse. One of the most spectacular views in Rutledge is from a rocking chair on the front porch of the club house. This panoramic view includes two tee boxes, four fairways, the practice green, and the No. 9 and No. 18 greens. In the warm and inviting clubhouse you can purchase everything from golf apparel and equipment to snacks, drinks, a biscuit or sandwich. One can sit in a nice chair and read a magazine while watching TV by a warm fire.
There are two things that make The Creek special: the friendly staff and the picturesque setting of the golf course. The staff is warm and friendly, making customers feel welcomed. There is a feeling of family from the staff. Those who work behind the counter, in the kitchen, at the cart barn, in maintenance or the marshals out on the course are passionate about golf and The Creek. Thanks to all the staff at The Creek for your hard work, kindness, courtesy and generosity to the Rutledge community.
Moving out onto the course, the first hole has been voted the “Toughest Starting Hole” in Georgia. The course is quite hilly but flattens out where it lines the creek. During spring the hills are bursting with flowering dogwoods. A favorite hole is No. 3, a par three that drops straight downhill over a pond onto a large green. This hole also serves as a favorite sledding hill on rare snowy days in Rutledge. Holes 7, 8 and 9 are reminiscent of Augusta National because of the way they line up alongside one another, separated by tall Georgia pines. Hole No. 14, known as the waterwheel hole, is the signature hole of the course complete with the sound of a flowing creek, a waterfall and the waterwheel. If you would like to help preserve the waterwheel, go online to Friends of the Park for information. Come visit The Creek, the crown jewel of Rutledge. When you’ve finished, stop by our wonderful shops and restaurants in downtown Rutledge.