The Sandy Creek Sporting Grounds is an idyllic post-round playground
Courtesy of Reynolds Lake Oconee
After you’ve experienced all six (soon to be seven) golf courses at Reynolds Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Ga., you may be ready for a shot of a different variety. And there’s no better place to find one than the Sandy Creek Sporting Grounds, an 800-acre facility where you can hike, fish, kayak, canoe, go off-roading — and shoot to your heart’s content.
The Sporting Grounds’ crown jewel is a 20-station sporting-clays course situated along a mile-long trail circuit. The course was designed in 2017 by the facility’s director Justin Jones, a man whose lineage in shooting sports runs deep. Jones’ grandfather and father captained the British Olympic trap-shooting teams, and his family farm in Wales is home to the leading trap-shooting grounds in Great Britain.
Jones himself is an international shooting champion, and the Sandy Creek Sporting Grounds he designed is intended to bring British tradition and authenticity to the heart of Georgia.
“I designed [the shooting course] very much like a golf course,” Jones says. “We have par 3s, par 4s, par 5s in terms of difficulty on each hole or each station. Different distances, just like on the golf course. Every month, we move around the machines — the traps that actually launch the clays — just like moving the pin on a green.”
Interested visitors will be happy to know that shooting experience is not required. Jones estimates that 70 percent of his guests are first-time shooters. Each group of guests is accompanied by a certified guide, and the course can be configured to launch clay targets at a variety of speeds, trajectories, angles, elevations and distances to accommodate every level of shooter. According to Jones, golfers may be surprised to find they have a natural predisposition for success, thanks to the hand-eye coordination required. In fact, a day on the Grounds may even improve your golf game.
“I had a golfer come out, and he was struggling with the shooting,” Jones says. “He had a dominant left eye. I closed his left eye for him, and he started hitting everything right in the middle. So then he started doing the same for his putting, which has improved dramatically too.”
Yep. It sounds to us like a course well worth taking.