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Outside the Lines
By John Scott Lewinski | Photo: Highlands photo by Bernie Coulson; Fishing photo by Blake Crosby | February 21, 2017
The rolling countryside surrounding metro Atlanta is home to some of America’s most elite resorts for lovers of the outdoors—all offering a blend of pampering accommodations and gorgeous scenery. However, a few have staked claims to rugged specialties, inviting sports enthusiasts to enjoy some of the region’s best nature-based recreation.
Only 60 minutes from Atlanta, this resort’s SpringBank Sporting Club provides an 1,800-acre spread with both a sporting clays facility and wing shooting opportunities.
INSIDER INTEL According to Skip Smith, director of SpringBank Sporting Club and a Level III National Sporting Clays Association instructor, “Having two courses allows us to better fulfill our guests’ needs. We can set one course for novice- to intermediate-level shooters and the other for intermediate to advanced shooters.” The resort changes the layout often to accommodate tournament needs and to keep guests and members entertained and challenged. “The five stand allows for lessons and instruction no matter the weather, and the courses offer a variety of shots in the woods, over open fields and even over water,” adds Smith, “thanks to reclaimed bauxite mines located on the property.” $135 per hour per person for private shooting instruction
WHAT ELSE? Experienced guides, custom Jeeps and specially trained sporting dogs are available for on-property hunts. A newly enhanced clubhouse invites shooters to relax before and after any shoot. 597 Barnsley Gardens Road, Adairsville, 770.773.7480
Players who make the four-hour pilgrimage to the May River between Hilton Head Island, S.C., and Savannah will find a world-class track designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus. If a player’s game could use a little work before taking on The Golden Bear’s work, the course employs PGA professional instructors to help polish the rough spots.
INSIDER INTEL However, the star of Palmetto Bluff is the May River Golf Club. David Stinson, PGA director of golf operations, is proud of the environs his course calls home. “Our low-country landscape along the May River winds through ancient oaks draped in Spanish moss. Its lush fairways and greens couple with our exceptional caddie and golf service program to make our May River Golf Course a must-play golf destination.” Peak season green fees from $305, non-peak season green fees $205
WHAT ELSE? Recently acquired by the Montage Hotels & Resorts line, the property took on a 100-room expansion and offers facilities for hiking, shooting and salt-water fishing. 477 Mount Pelia Road, Bluffton, S.C., 843.706.6500
Old Edwards Inn & Spa
Tucked into the southwest plateau of North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains, Old Edwards Inn & Spa offers a more peaceful path to nature. Guests explore specially mapped private mountain hikes with varying levels of strenuousness through some of the most stirring views the region can offer.
INSIDER INTEL Amanda Sullivan, Old Edwards Inn marketing director, explains that the property’s Highlands Plateau is in the middle of a temperate rain forest with headwaters forming lakes, rivers and waterfalls. “The trails that meander through the mountains here wind through one of most rare and diverse ecosystems on the continent,” she says. “One minute you are skirting the edges of a granite outcropping, and the next, you are wondering through a peaceful glen. Add to that the four distinct seasons, and you understand why people say that there is an energy here that makes them happy.”
WHAT ELSE? Beyond hiking, try zip lining, kayaking or Highland Excursions (a guided Land Rover tour into the wilds, and get as “off road” as your adventurous spirit desires). 445 Main St., Highlands, N.C., 866.526.8008
Foxhall Resort & Sporting Club
A membership-based resort (membership rates vary), Foxhall claims the largest collection of outdoor activities in the American Southeast. Open year-round to meet the various hunting seasons, visitors can take on white-tailed deer, quails, pheasants, turkeys, doves, ducks and geese on property with full licensing.
INSIDER INTEL “Foxhall's unique placement right outside Atlanta, coupled with the breathtaking scenery and our exceptional service, makes it a hunting destination like no other,” says the resort's concierge Lisa Walker. “Shooting grounds and quail hunts are open to the public. All other activities are for members or resort guests staying in one of our lodges or Lakeview Terrace Villas (from $430 per night).” The resort provides guests and member expeditions with necessary transportation, guides, dogs, trail cameras, hunting stands and other essentials according to the seasonal game.
WHAT ELSE? When not on the hunt, guests can enjoy on-property fishing, clay shooting, hiking and other outdoor highlights. 8000 Capps Ferry Road, Douglasville, 770.489.4380
The Ford Plantation
Taking its name from the industrialist who used the spot as his retreat, The Ford Plantation runs along the Ogeechee River outside Savannah. Its licensed guides stand by to tell guests what’s biting and where to cast their lines. According to Communications Director Shannon GaNun, The Ford Plantation rests on the best fishing waters in the low country, situated on the river’s tidal stretch spreading across creeks and tributaries that are home to largemouth and striped bass.
INSIDER INTEL “Down the river, salt marshes are lined with oyster beds and hone to redfish, sea trout and giant tarpon. Offshore, our Ford Marina and the Georgia coast offer artificial reefs that provide a fishery for cobia, snapper, grouper and sheepshead. The Gulf Stream challenges with the opportunities for wahoo, mahimahi, blackfin tuna and marlin.”
WHAT ELSE? Away from the water, The Ford Plantation is proud of its Pete Dye-designed golf course and a selection of more earthly pursuits like horseback riding and clay shooting. 12511 Ford Ave., Richmond Hill, 912.756.5666