Ash­ton Hills named among best

Pga.com lists area course as No. 8 in At­lanta area

The Covington News - - SPORTS - BRYAN FAZIO bfazio@cov­news.com

Through­out the nine months In­dian Creek Golf Course was closed to tran­si­tion into Ash­ton Hills Golf Club, Bryan Raines and his staff were hard at work mak­ing a golf course they could be proud of.

Just eight months later, the di­rec­tor of golf and Ash­ton Hills staff aren’t the only ones happy with the course, lo­cated at 10400 By­pass Road, but also Ge­or­gia golfers who visit pga.com.

The web­site ran its an­nual “A Quick Nine” col­umn re­cently, polling read­ers on the best pub­lic golf cour­ses in the At­lanta area, and Ash­ton Hills turned up on the list at No. 8.

The course made the list at No. 10 in its pre­vi­ous in­car­na­tion as In­dian Creek, but was never ranked this high. The eighth-ranked course is some­thing Raines wasn’t ex­pect­ing so soon, even though he has heard plenty of pos­i­tive buzz about Ash­ton Hills.

“It came as a shock to me,” Raines said. “My for­mer as­sis­tant called me and told me, said, ‘You guys are listed 8 out of the 10 best pub­lic links cour­ses in At­lanta.’

“It shows that you’re go­ing in the right di­rec­tion, and peo­ple are re­ceiv­ing the golf course well with the new greens and the new changes.”

While the course was shut down from Novem­ber 2011 un­til Au­gust 2012, Raines and his staff were busy work­ing on a ma­jor facelift, re­sod­ding greens, re­do­ing the bunkers, re­mov­ing hun­dreds of trees and re­fur­bish­ing the club­house.

Ash­ton Hills opened Aug. 17, and has nu­mer­ous pos­i­tive re­sponses from golfers both in the New­ton County area and Ge­or­gia, in gen­eral, with much praise be­ing placed on the greens. Raines changed the area around the pins from Bent Grass to MiniVerde Ber­muda grass, al­low­ing for bet­ter con­di­tions dur­ing the hot sum­mer months.

“Ob­vi­ously, the greens are a big plus,” Raines said. “Whereas nor­mally this time of year, you’re hav­ing slow putting con­di­tions

be­cause it’s so hot, the big grass strug­gles; now you don’t have to worry about keep­ing greens alive in the sum­mer. Now we’re not hav­ing to do that, and we’re able to main­tain a real good qual­ity of greens with firm and fast con­di­tions.”

Those con­di­tions have brought up the num­ber of play­ers com­ing through Ash­ton Hills since it re­opened 11 months ago.

“We’ve been hear­ing a lot of re­ally good com­ments,” Raines said. “We’ve no­ticed our on­line book­ings from peo­ple strictly not in the Cov­ing­ton area have re­ally got­ten bet­ter. We’re bring­ing play­ers in from DeKalb, Gwin­nett and as far as At­lanta and Ma­ri­etta. Ob­vi­ously, we’re get­ting our name out there in a bet­ter way than we had be­fore.”

Be­ing listed as one of the nine best pub­lic links cour­ses in At­lanta will con­tinue to get Ash­ton Hills’ name out among golfers, men­tioned along with cour­ses such as Bear’s Best in Suwan­nee (No. 1 on the list); Ech­e­lon Golf Club in Al­pharetta (No. 2); Stone Moun­tain (No. 3); Reynolds Plan­ta­tion in Greens­boro (No. 7); and For­est Hills in Au­gusta (No. 9).

“We’re ob­vi­ously in group of a lot of re­ally good golf cour­ses,” Raines said. “I was re­ally pleased with it.”

Gabriel Khouli /The Cov­ing­ton News

Bryan Raines, Ash­ton Hills di­rec­tor of golf, works on a bunker at the course, which was pre­vi­ously In­dian Creek Golf Club be­fore im­prov­ing and re­open­ing Aug. 14, 2012.

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