Callaway Gardens’ golf pedigree stretches more than six decades, all the way back to 1949, when architect J.B. McGovern, with considerable input from Cason Callaway, designed the first nine holes of the Lake View Course. Completed and opened in 1951, Lake View perfectly captured Mr. Callaway’s vision that “playing golf should be a pleasant experience in beautiful surroundings.”
The Callaways understood the beauty and importance of golf. Mr. Callaway was on the founding Board of Trustees of the Georgia State Golf Association. Almost from the beginning, the Gardens was a competition venue, with Jack Key of Columbus, Ga., winning Callaway Gardens' first-ever tournament, the 1951 Men’s One-day Golf Tourney. Cason Callaway's son Howard H. “Bo” Callaway even had a prestigious golf tournament in mind when he conceived a water ski competition at Callaway Gardens in 1960. Wanting the new event to be as revered by water skiers as the Masters was by golfers, he requested and received permission from Augusta National Golf Club to use their tournament’s name. Today the Masters Water Ski & Wakeboard Tournament endures as one of the world’s most prestigious water sports events.
Callaway Gardens would go on to host many more golf tournaments, both amateur and professional, over the years. Following are a few of the highlights, along with a few insights from PGA Tour pros who played here during the Buick Challenge.
1965: Renowned architect Dick Wilson designs Mountain View Course
1970-73: SEC Men’s Golf Championship
1973: Tommy Aaron wins the Masters while representing Callaway Gardens as Touring Pro
1975-79: PGA Club Professional Championship
1982-87: SEC Women’s Golf Championship
1991-2002: PGA Tour Buick Challenge (formerly Buick Southern Open). Winners include major champions Steve Elkington, Davis Love III and David Duval.
2005: U.S. Kids Golf Atlanta Tour Championship
2006: Callaway Gardens Collegiate Invitational
2011-12: PGA Tour Qualifying School
They Said It
“This is one of the 10 best golf courses we see all year.”
“What a great course. What a beautiful place. … If I had known the golf course was this good I would have been here years ago.”
“This course is a gem. What a beautiful piece of property. … This is one of the best kept secrets in all of golf.”
“It is certainly one of the best courses we play all year. … You walk into your villa, you have that kind of fireplace smell. You are laid up on the couch watching TV instead of lying with your head against the headboard of your bed like … every other week. It’s not like you’re home, but it’s closer to home than an average hotel. It’s fun.”
“I’ve always liked this place a lot. I bring my family down here. … It reminds me a lot of Pinehurst. It’s beautiful. I don’t know if anyone’s ever been to Callaway Gardens and didn’t like it.”