Golf Getaway: Valdosta, Georgia is a winter wonderland for golf & food.

Golf Getaway:

Valdosta, GA is a winter wonderland for golf & food.

By Tim W. Jackson

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The stroke off the tee just felt right. The ball sailed high into the blue Georgia sky, dropping to the green grass probably 275 yards away—by far my best drive of the day. It allowed me to nail a birdie on the 9th—and final hole—at the Quiet Pines Golf Course in Valdosta, Georgia. What a way to end our first foray into golfing in this delightful Deep South city, which is nearer to Jacksonville, Gainesville and Tallahassee, Florida than it is to Atlanta.

Needing a bit of an escape—and looking for any chance to get on the links—my wife and I chose to go south for a weekend of golf and food, and decided, on a bit of a whim, to try Valdosta. We made an excellent choice!

In fact, let’s get back to Quiet Pines. We rolled into town in the early afternoon and didn’t have time for a full 18 holes before dark, so we enjoyed this public 9-hole course at Moody Air Force Base just northeast of Valdosta proper.

It’s a fun, reasonably priced course that features 3,357 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 36. The course opened in 1968 and is managed by the U.S. Air Force Services Agency. After an enjoyable round of golf, we hit The Dive Bar right on the premises to enjoy a beverage and ponder dinner options. After conversations and recommendations from the friendly staff and a few patrons, we decided to dash back into Valdosta for dinner at Friends Grille + Bar.

Grab a drink at The Dive Bar after a round of golf.

The views are just as stunning as the golfing at Quiet Pines.

Refuel with a hearty steak dinner at Friends.

Located in the Summit Pointe plaza, Friends has the atmosphere of a neighborhood bar and grill and features, of course, a big bar, a lovely patio and plenty of seating inside. Its menu offers “laid-back Southern cuisine,” with much of the ingredients sourced locally. The menu looked amazing, so choosing one entrée was a challenge. Feeling like I could use some red meat, I finally opted for the ribeye topped with béarnaise butter. My wife enjoyed the pan seared pork tenderloin with apple butter and toasted pecans with a side of creamy mashed potatoes. Wow, what a meal, and what a first day in Valdosta.

We were thrilled that Saturday was another day with blue skies and crisp temperatures perfect for a round of golf. On this day, we had made plans to experience Kinderlou Forest Golf Club. Touting itself as “South Georgia’s premier golf and residential community,” it’s the home of a Davis Love III Signature-designed 18-hole championship golf course. In fact, it has been home to eight PGA Tour qualifying tournaments in its relatively short history.

We grabbed lunch at The Oaks, a restaurant located in the clubhouse. I enjoyed the Kinderlou Club while my wife loved the Buffalo chicken wrap (fried, of course!). Then it was time to hit the links for a full afternoon.

This course has five tee boxes on each hole, which makes it especially nice for couples or groups with different skill levels and driving capabilities. The course plays as long as 7,781 yards or as short as 4,713 yards, with three more options in between. It’s also interesting that in an area as flat as southern Georgia, the community offers undulating hills and even offers a deep natural ravine on the fourth hole, adding an extra challenge.

In addition to the beautiful weather and beautiful course, the houses in the community are lovely to look at as well. We spent plenty of time gazing with great interest at the houses surrounding the course, not to mention the amazing houses on the main boulevard.

Nothing like eating a club sandwich at the golf club!

Pull up a chair at The Oaks for a convenient lunch.

Sink your teeth into fiery Cajun BBQ shrimp at 306 North.

After a fabulous day of golf, we were tempted to just head back to The Oaks for dinner but decided we should explore Valdosta a bit more. We headed into the historic downtown district and ended up at 306 North, and with that name we’ll never forget its address. The restaurant bills itself as “a blend of Southern sophistication in a casual upscale environment,” which is a pretty apt description.

I’m not really an appetizer guy, but I just had to try the Cajun BBQ shrimp while we awaited our entrées. They were as delicious as I had hoped! Being from the South and having eaten pork chops all my life, I sometimes surprise myself with an inclination to lean toward pork chops if I find them on a restaurant menu. I have to say that the crispy buttermilk fried pork chops with marsala gravy were an excellent choice. I enjoyed the honey-truffle grilled sweet potatoes and smoked gouda grits as sides. My wife, never one to pass on a potato, had creamed potatoes plus the sweet potatoes to go with her chicken piccata, which must have been delectable because it was gone before I could think to ask for a bite.

We awoke Sunday morning thrilled to launch into the day, but with a bit of sadness that the trip would be coming to an end. We decided to start the day with brunch at Steel Magnolias, also in the historic downtown district, just a few blocks away from 306 North. We wanted to get in our final day of golf as soon as possible, so we arrived as soon as the doors opened at 11 a.m.

As always on this trip, choosing menu items was a tough task, but I finally settled on seared sea scallops and pork belly while my wife enjoyed some amazing chicken and waffles. (Yes, I did get a few bites of that deliciousness.) We were quite stuffed but delighted with our choices and ready for our last round of golf.

Grabbing lunch outside is a year-round pleasure in Valdosta.

Meals at Steel Magnolias are as beautiful as they are delicious.

The interior of Steel Magnolias is filled with historical rustic charm.

For our final foray on the links, we chose Stone Creek Golf Club, which is just off I-75 in Valdosta about 22 miles from the Florida border. The 18-hole course is set among more than 800 acres of woodland and wetland, complete with a beaver pond, bass lakes, and plenty of wildlife. A semi-private course built in 1992 with the slogan “where Southern hospitality meets championship golf,” that’s correct on all counts. While golf is open to the public, the course sits among 700 homesites in the gated Stone Creek Valdosta community.

The course is a par 72 with 6,652 yards from the longest tees. Golfers can choose among five different tee boxes on each hole. The weather, again, was crisp but clear and wonderful for a day outdoors. The relatively new Champion Dwarf Bermuda greens played like a dream. Though we ended on a vexing par 4 on the 18th, the day overall was amazing and we were sad to see it come to an end. We would have loved to hit a few balls on the driving range, spend more time in the pro shop, and grab a bite at the golfer’s grill, but our time on this trip had run out.

On the drive away from Valdosta, mostly what my wife and I discussed was when we might get back to this little jewel of a city in southern Georgia. The golf was great, but we want to see so many other things on our return trip, too. So if you’re looking for a golf-filled getaway, move Valdosta to the top of your list.