Staff Photo: Manny Fils SCAD golfers freshman Ashley Madden, left, and Michelle Madden, both from Waunakee, Wis., share a sisterly moment as they walk off the third green at The Oaks Course on Saturday.
COVINGTON -- It's apparent the staff at The Oaks Course not only loves the business of golf, but it also enjoys helping others.
Not only is The Oaks Course the home to two local high school golf teams, Newton and Alcovy. It also provides block off valuable tee times to various groups for golf outings, Oxford College and the mens and womens golf team at Savannah College of Art and Design's Atlanta campus.
Even though it's a 45-minute drive for the SCAD team to practice at The Oaks Course, head coach Wyatt Graff said the benefits his teams get out of it is well worth the drive.
Before coming to The Oaks Course, Graff noticed that his teams scores were suffering because they were not accustomed to the speeds or conditions of quality greens. Since then, the scores have dropped to the point where the women are ranked No. 1 in the Appalachia Athletic Conference.
"We would get to a tournament and we might have been putting on greens that are at an eight or nine (greens speed), and we get to greens that are a 10 or 11 and we're totally thrown off," Graff said. "So being out here playing in more tournament conditions definitely helps condition us for a tournament. You can't find better greens around here. They know it prepares them well, so they realize why we come out here."
While the distance at The Oaks Course may not be equal to what the men might see in tournament play, Graff likes the course because it gives his players a chance to practice their all-important short game.
"For the women, it's a very good challenge for them," he said. "We usually play between 5,800 and 6,100 yards. The white tees are just under 6,000 so it's very good for them. For the guys, it's a little on the shorter side but it gets them to use their scoring clubs some more."
Alcovy's golf team begins its season at The Oaks Course on March 4 against Salem. Newton's first home match is two days later against Henry County. The tee times for home matches are 3:15 p.m.
There are also two fundraising tournaments coming up in March. The first tournament is the Kiwanis Club golf tournament for the Richard Rawlins scholarship fund March 15. The other tournament is sponsored by Snapping Shoals EMC with the funds going to Relay For Life.
The cost to play is $75 per person or $300 per foursome.
Aside from helping groups and teams, The Oaks Course also helps players who want to get their swing back. The Oaks Course golf professional Rex Richardson is offering half-price lessons on Sundays for the rest of February. A 45-minute lesson is $40 for adults, $20 for juniors and $45 for a family.
Richardson and The Oaks Course is also offering a three-day Winter Break Junior Golf Camp starting Feb. 19.
For a cost of $75 per child, each participant will have a 90-minute PGA Professional instruction session along with a snack and drink plus a 15-minute review. Check-in for children ages 6 to 12 will be at 8:45 a.m., and the camp will end at 10:45 a.m. Children ages 13 to 17 will meet from 11 a.m. until 12:25 p.m. There will also be a drawing for a free range pass, a dozen golf balls and a nine-hole pass. Deadline to register for the camp is Feb. 17.
For more information on lessons, winter break camp or to play in the Kiwanis or Snapping Shoals tournament, call The Oaks Course at 770-786-3801 or visit www.golfoaks.com.
"They've been so supportive of college golf and supporting us as an athletic team," Graff said. "I love the course, I love their support; I can't turn it down. It's worth the drive and the course is always in great shape. Most importantly, they have some of the greatest greens around."