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Mac Plumart

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Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« on: November 03, 2010, 05:30:28 PM »
Due to the generosity and hospitality of Chris Cupit, I got the opportunity to take some friends out to Chris’ club, Rivermont, in the northern Atlanta ‘burbs and meet some fellow GCA’ers yesterday.  As the day progressed, it ended up being one of my favorite golfing experiences to date.

For starters, our group was treated to a description of the course by Chris and, the sadistic golf course architect, Mike Riley.  They described some of the nuances of the course, like the redesign of hole #5, how to approach hole 8, and the punchbowl on 9.  And what became apparent through their talk was that there was more to this course than initially meets the eye…which, as we know, is what is what good golf course architecture is all about.

I had the opportunity to play the course previously with Bryan Icenhower, a member, and I had the great privilege of seeing Mike and Chris goofing around hard at work redesigning holes 7, 8, and 9 and supervising the construction.  In fact, I posted a bit on this previously.  http://golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,45238.70/

And just like their talk illustrated, to unlock all the mysteries of Rivermont you need to play the course many times.

#1—is a great opening hole.  From the white tees (one up from the tips) the hole is a 378 yard par 4 that kind of eases the golfer into the round.  The drive is not threatening and the green is somewhat protected by a bunkers and a creek bisects the fairway somewhat near the green.  The green has some movement to it, but not too much.   Nice opener.

#2—is one of the best holes I’ve played.   It is a 517 yard par 5 with a few different options on how to attack the green.  And oh that green!!!  MAGNIFICENT!!!  On the website, Chris describes this green as “devilish”.  Yeah, I guess I’d describe it that way…well, maybe I’d use another word.   :-X





#3 is a great par 4 with a green that I’d advise you to keep the ball below the hole on.  And #4 is a great version of a redan.  What a great hole and, of course, a great green!




#5 is a stunningly good par 4 with a strategic decision to make as that creek, that appeared previously, meanders across this fairway as well.

#6 is a forced water carry par 3 with perhaps the most unique par 3 green I’ve ever seen.  With its “half pipe” feature inspired by Winged Foot (incidentally  both Chris and Mike won championships on the Winged Foot courses).

#7 was recently redesigned and makes for a great par 5.  This is hole is a real test of driving ability and offer key strategic decisions as well.  And yet again this hole has another fantastic green, this time the “milk jug”.




#8 is another hole that was recently updated ;




as was #9, which can only be described as an Alps/Punchbowl.  But in the recent changes the front edge of the punchbowl was lowered/removed and the golfer can now see the green and adjust strategy as needed.




The back nine has a great and intimate feeling, which is a testament to the courses routing.  I don’t know the total acreage they had to work with, but it couldn’t have been the easiest property to work with and throw in the neighborhood surrounding the course these restrictions could have provided easy excuses to offer up a mundane/average course.  But that is not what this architectural effort yielded.  The routing is so good that the neighborhood is barely noticed and I suppose I would compare the routing efforts to a Canterbury or an Inwood in terms of getting the most out of a small plot of land (I haven’t played Merion so I can’t comment on that one).


#10 is another great par 5 that winds the golfer down the fairway into another great green site with interesting contours.




This hole is followed by a fantastic short par 4 (276 yards from the tees I played).  That is heavily guarded by severe bunkers.   In fact, you’ve got a rendition of a Devil’s A$$hole off to the left of the green. 

#12 is a tremendous par 5 with a massive bunker lurking to the left of the green.  Although not as big as the bunker to the left of the 4th green at Sand Hills, it did remind me of it.  It is so big, Chris and Mike gave it a name, “Big Bertha”. 




#13 is a longer par 4 with a crazy false front to deal with.  I think Mike is a complete jerk genius for putting this feature in as I couldn’t get my damn ball to stay on the green it adds an incredible amount of variety to the course.

#14 is a nice par 3, #15 is a blind tee shot par 4 that plays into a very solid green.


#16, to me, is the best hole on the course and reminds me a lot of Cuscowilla in its feel.  In fact, the natural feeling of the course might be best personified in this hole.  Like Cuscowilla, the bunkers at Rivermont have very natural reddish-brown sand in them.  Since Georgia is the land of red clay, I don’t want bleached white ocean type sand in GA bunkers.  Give me the native looking reddish sand, it just fits.  The holes layout will shape your drive, but your approach will require you to hit a fade off a hook lie.  Bring your skill or face bogey.  I like it!




#17 is a drop shot par 3 that offers stunning views and #18 brings to the table a demanding approach shot with a green that offers a backstop to play unique shots off of. 

I suppose I am taking the time to write such a lengthy post for one main reason.  We talk an awful on this site about courses like Pebble Beach, Cypress Point, and Crystal Downs, but the courses that I think need to be talked about are courses like Rivermont.  It is a very affordable private course with extremely good golf course architecture.  And we need more of these types of golf courses.  Many more! 

This is a hidden gem of the highest magnitude for the golf course architectural junkie.  You want a redan?  You got it.  You want a “milk jug” green, “Big Bertha” bunker, “half pipe” greens, strategic decisions off the tee and on the approach?  You’ve got’em.  And to talk about the greens again, they are plain and simply magnificent.  Plain and simple.

So, anyway…I think in addition to talking about courses like St. Andrews and Pine Valley, we need to bring to the forefront course like Rivermont; Architecturally significant courses that don’t price out the core golf course architectural fanatic.  If hidden gems with significant golf course architectural interest are going to compete with the big budget “signature designer” courses, we’ve got to lead that charge.

Kudos…Chris Cupit and Mike Riley.  AMAZING work!!!

Thanks for a wonderful day!!!!
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Michael Dugger

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Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2010, 06:04:40 PM »
Indeed that does look like a nice course, Mac.  I am curious about the width, it looks like it might have been blasted through forest/trees.

Is the course adequately wide?  Could it be wider?
What does it matter if the poor player can putt all the way from tee to green, provided that he has to zigzag so frequently that he takes six or seven putts to reach it?     --Alistair Mackenzie--

Mac Plumart

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Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2010, 06:18:58 PM »
Hey Michael...

I'd love for Chris to chime in on the width as I am sure he'd have exact distances regarding width of the fairways.

But from my experience, the course is adequately wide.  It actually gives a fair amount of leeway off the tee and requires more and more precision as you get closer to the green.  Most of my photos are on the approach shot and not the tee shot.  So, it does look pretty tight.  But I only lost one ball off of a drive that I thought was prett decent (on 15).  I pulled a tee shot and hit a bullet up the left side of a fairway that sloped right to left.  Ball bounced and rolled OB.  I needed to play up the right side.  That was my fault.  

Could it be wider?  I don't think so.  Like I mentioned, they don't have an over-abundance of land...like say Ballyneal or The Golf Club.  And I think they maximized the use of the land.  I hit squirely tee shots on 5, 9, 16 and was fine.  It seemed to be fine by me.  But like I said, I'd love to see Chris comment.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2010, 07:20:16 PM by Mac Plumart »
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Mike Leveille

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Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2010, 06:41:21 PM »
Ditto to everything Mac said about Rivermont, Chris and Mike.  Chris was a generous and gracious host, and both Chris and Mike should be extremely proud of what they have produced at Rivermont.  It is a really fun course and should not be overlooked just because it is not a big name course.

As for the course itself, I'll add the following to Mac's thoughts as they relate to three of my favorite holes on the course:

Hole 2:  The green is awesome, with all of its undulations, but the massive bunker about twenty yards short of the left side of the green helps to make the hole.  The hole is a dogleg left, with a bunker on the inside corner.  This concept usually tempts the longer player to play to the inside of the dogleg to shorten the hole.  However, a drive up the left side leaves a partially blind shot over the huge bunker, while a drive up the right side (the outside of the dogleg) leaves a clear view of the green.   This gives the player the option of playing a running shot and would seem to minimize the possibility of missing the green to the left (which leaves the player a very difficult chip).

Hole 6:  When we arrived at the tee, all I saw was a big pond with a green set about ten yards over the pond so the water is not really in play.  On top of that, the green looks relatively plain from the tee (probably just my poor eyesight), seemingly just a big, round, flat green.  All looked pretty boring.  I should have known better after I saw Mac walking onto the back right portion of the green, where the pin was set, and noticing that I could no longer see anything below his knees, as the back-right portion of the green is a small punch bowl (minus a rim on the right side).  I managed to place my tee shot on the front right portion of the green, leaving a forty footer that went down a big slope starting ten feet or so from the pin.  It was obvious that I would not be able to putt directly at the hole and stop it anywhere near the hole, so at Chris' recommendation I aimed a few feet left and putted it about ten or fifteen feet past the hole, part way up the backside of the punchbowl, and then watched the ball roll back hole high leaving me a simple enough four footer, that I promptly missed (must have been a bad read from our host).  Simple looking hole, but great stuff.

Hole 12.  My favorite par five, and perhaps my favorite hole, on the course.  The hole, which is fairly straight or a slight dogleg left depending on which tee you play, is reachable with two good shots.  However, the fairway slopes gently from left to right, which would seem to increase the difficultly of holding the fairway off the tee.  The second shot is what I really love, as you play back uphill to a green set on top of a hill and fronted (maybe ten yards in front, not sure) by a cavernous bunker.  With the bunker set back a bit from the green, the player on the bubble of being able to reach the green is left with the dilemna of laying back for a fairly easy wedge shot, or having a go at the green but risking an extremely difficult 25 to 40 yard bunker shot from well below the green if he comes up short.  Of course, the green has all sorts of interest, sloping fairly hard to the right.

I suspect I will have more favorite Rivermont holes after playing it again (I have now played it twice, post-renovation), as it seems to be one of those courses that have a lot of subtle (and not so subtle) details that you only notice if you happen to put the ball in the wrong place.

Great stuff Chris and Mike.

Mike Leveille

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Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2010, 06:47:05 PM »
As to Michael's question regarding width, the fairways and playing corridors at Rivermont are plenty wide and it does not at all feel restrictive off the tee.  In fact, there are a number of holes, the fifth being the most obvious, where the player really has options as to what side of the fairway he wants to play to, depending on how much risk he wants to take off the tee in order to get a better look on the second shot.  The only exception may be the par five seventh, which is cut out of the trees and pretty much just tells you to hit it straight down the middle, but the reward awaits at the uniquie "milk jug" green.

Chris Cupit

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Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2010, 06:57:26 PM »
Mac,

Thanks for the kind words.  It was a fun day and I would love to have the guys back--maybe on a nice warm spring day and we could get even more people to come?  I still have a few beers left :D

MD

One thing that is nice and lucky is that while our course is not a "core" course, for a real estate course it is very wide and rarely do you feel that homes are on top of you or that they are intrusive at all.  In fact many people express shock that our course is in such a suburban area as they often say "you feel like you are up in the mountains".  As Mike and I mentioned yesterday morning with the guys, we need to be more vigilant about keeping our fairway width from getting narrowed down but here are my ball park estimates of fairway widths (assuming normal drive zone area):  

#1  40 yards  
#2  45 yards
#3  35-40 yards
#5  65-70 yards!!!
#7  30-35 yards
#8  40-45 yards
#9  45 yards short if bunkers, 25 yards if you try and drive up the neck of the fairway
#10  30-35 yards
#11  25-30 yards  (narrowest hole--301 yards from TIPS)  Width from OB left and creek right is easily 75 yards
#12  30-35 yards
#13  40 yards
#15  35 yards
#16  landing area plays 60 yards wide due to slope of fairway
#18  45-50 yards

Certainly there is more width "tree line to tree line".

We are lucky to have mature trees (39 years as a club) that block almost all the views of the homes.  We have creeks in play throughout the course but I think OB really is in play on just a few shots.  It is certainly not a real estate course where you feel like its picket fences on both sides of the course.    

Chris Cupit

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Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2010, 07:11:13 PM »
Here's the crazy second green form behind:

The short 11th hole.  The pot bunker now has some nice hairy purple lovegrass growing all over and inside it.  If you try and drive the green and pull it lft into that little S.O.B. you could end up with anything :D  The little guy has about 4 square feet of sand, the bunker in the background is one bunker--about 4500 square feet!

OK.  This is the side view of #13 with the huge false front/slope in front and it was the site of the best shot of the day BY FAR from Mr. Leveille.
He's 103 to the middle, into a decent breeze with an uphill lie from a cuppie bermuda rough lie.  It's going to play close to 115-120 and if he manages to carry onto the top tier it's likely to go over the green and leave a nasty come back chip. So.....Mike plays a hooded 9 iron, lands it short of the green and forty feet right of the hole (as planned).  The balls rolls up the hill, curls hard left to five feet and he made the putt for three--best damn shot I've ever seen on that hole :)  
« Last Edit: November 03, 2010, 07:14:49 PM by Chris Cupit »

Jim Eder

Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2010, 07:15:51 PM »
It looks absolutely wonderful.  I love the bunkers and the greensites look excellent. Thanks for sharing!!

Gary Daughters

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Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2010, 09:42:23 PM »
I think the newly designed #9, as I expressed in an email to Chris, is more multi-dimensional than the post-renovation Alps/Punchbowl.  However, I really did like the previous version, and maybe Chris can tell us why he decided to change it.  Membership revolt?  That wouldn't seem to be it as a membership hearty enough to handle the green at #13 can surely put up with a lot. :)

In terms of difficulty, I consider Rivermont to be "sneaky fast."  I shot maybe a stroke or two off my average last week with quite a few 3 putts.  It is a very playable and very fun course with a lot of variety;  if an occasion came to really stimp up the greens I think you might be talking about something different altogether.

Another shot of that Devil's A##hole:


Mac, I find the texture (and color) of the sand at Rivermont to be far preferable to that at Cuscowilla.  It is thicker, heavier, cleaner.. more fun.  Feels like Scotland.. Dornoch!  

It's fascinating how that little ripple of a ridge on the #11 green can cause almost as big a headache as the huge false front at #13.  

I grew up playing the old unvarnished Joe Lee Rivermont.  Ben Crenshaw came out once and played in an exhibition.  Back then the club's most prominent member, or hanger-on, was the one and only Evel Knieval.



« Last Edit: November 03, 2010, 10:39:17 PM by Gary Daughters »
THE NEXT SEVEN:  Alfred E. Tupp Holmes Municipal Golf Course, Willi Plett's Sportspark and Driving Range, Peachtree, Par 56, Browns Mill, Cross Creek, Piedmont Driving Club

Bruce Wellmon

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Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2010, 10:37:35 PM »
The last few times I came to Atlanta, I played East lake and Longshadow. I certainly need to add this to the list. I must admit I had never heard of Rivermont.

Mac Plumart

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Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2010, 10:42:58 PM »
Bruce...

Me either!  And I live 15 minutes from it!!!  That is part of the reason I am screaming from the tree tops about this course.  It is good...DAMN good...and no one knows about it.  NO ONE!!!  We need to fix that. 

Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Bruce Wellmon

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Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2010, 10:53:01 PM »
Bruce...

Me either!  And I live 15 minutes from it!!!  That is part of the reason I am screaming from the tree tops about this course.  It is good...DAMN good...and no one knows about it.  NO ONE!!!  We need to fix that. 



 I am about 3 hours. But, my next trip............

Phil_the_Author

Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2010, 11:26:00 AM »
The problem with Rivermont is that it was originally a very pedestrian course built in the middle of a housing project. As a result, many in Atlanta view it that way as they've gravitated to the numerous courses built throughout the area in the last 15+ years.

They absolutely don't know what they are missing! This course is flat out FUN! Mike Reilly did a superb redesign and he'd even tell you that he had to hole Chris back rather than the other way around. One of Chris' goals was to try to create Raynor-type greens in an Atlanta housing golf course... Boy did he succeed! You walk away saying what a great routing it is without reralizing that the routing never changed; that is the sign of a tremendous re-do.

This is the best kind of golf course in that the better you play the more you have to think about what you want to do. Even though there are definite "right ways" to play most of the holes there are also alternates and abilities to recover from even wider drives than the wide fairways permit! There are also a great many true risk/reward decision to contemplate. Add in some wild false fronts and a couple of bastardly-hidden small bunkers and it both challenges and excites the player of all skill levels.

You walk off 18 not only wanting to play it again but wanting to join the club.

This is more than a "hidden gem" it is very special and will mature into something quite exciting in the next few years.

Mark McKeever

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Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2010, 11:35:22 AM »
The wickers compliment the greensites very well!  Looks like a lot of interesting holes.

Mark
Best MGA showers - Bayonne

"Dude, he's a total d***"

Anthony Gray

Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2010, 07:27:05 PM »


  Those upper and lower landing areas are wonderful options off the tee.I did not read all the posts...private or public?

  Anthony


J_ Crisham

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Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2010, 08:30:20 PM »


  Those upper and lower landing areas are wonderful options off the tee.I did not read all the posts...private or public?

  Anthony


Very private- not sure if they let dentists in or not but think NGLA, Fishers Island,  same kind of crowd.....

Chris Cupit

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Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #16 on: November 04, 2010, 11:08:13 PM »
Anthony,

As I hope you could gather, Jack was exaggerating quite a bit.  Rivermont is private but exceptionally affordable and accessible.  I am not sure there is another metro Atlanta club with lower monthly fees than us (Except the Canongate group but that is really semi-private and a whole different animal).

I am certain almost none of my members have ever heard of NGLA or Fishers Island or care to :D

The club and members are great.  My play is mostly all member (not much member and three guest stuff) with the guys coming back for some food and drink to give each other a bunch of grief after the round.  I think we have the honor ( ???) of selling more Jagermeister at my club than any other club in Atlanta and I am sure the ensuing dice games at the bar are as fun as any other club tradition at other clubs!

Jack is just mad as he was blackballed for not drinking enough Jager!    

Jack--here is the new ninth green.  The old "complete" punchbowl just wasn't big enough and the balls all tended to end up in too small an area on the green.  Combined with the old path right of the green and a single entry point, the green was simply getting worn out in the middle.  The new green lowered the entire front of the green, expanded the green from 6000 square feet of which much was unusable to about 8500 square feet, most of which is pinnable.

The old shot was completely blind, which I loved, but most people hated.  Also, many felt that the second shot played too easy as even an indifferent shot would often end up next to a well played shot.  I think we fixed that ;D

Below are pics of #9 green:

Looking into the green from in front--new front pot bunker and large right bunker.  Path on right completely re-routed away from play and left of the green:



View from left front bunker looking across the green:  (Yes, tiny false front means a ball can roll back into that little bunker--it is nasty--just ask Phillip Young ;))







Half-Pipe back of #6 green that Mike putted to:



Gary Daughter's favorite bunker now that it is properly "hairy" ;D:


« Last Edit: November 04, 2010, 11:18:02 PM by Chris Cupit »

Mac Plumart

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Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2010, 05:47:41 PM »
Phil...

I think you are right when you say this, "You walk off 18 not only wanting to play it again but wanting to join the club.  This is more than a "hidden gem" it is very special and will mature into something quite exciting in the next few years."

In fact, I just joined!!    ;D


Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

J_ Crisham

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Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #18 on: November 05, 2010, 07:33:20 PM »


  Those upper and lower landing areas are wonderful options off the tee.I did not read all the posts...private or public?

  Anthony


Very private- not sure if they let dentists in or not but think NGLA, Fishers Island,  same kind of crowd.....
Chris,  Rivermont looks great! Just trying to get a dig in on Dr. Gray.  ;D  I have to say that you have some of the best green complexes inthe Southeast. As your pictures attest you have a hidden gem. The new 9th green is wicked-would enjoy watching young Kyle feather a shot from your front bunker-perhaps a return to Atlanta this Spring is needed.

                                          Wish you well,  Jack

Chris Cupit

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Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #19 on: November 05, 2010, 07:41:25 PM »
I'm keeping my eye on all the dentist applications!  I'll make sure none sneak through too easily!  I'm ready for a spring trip--my rash from the red basketball shirt in Houston just went away ;D  I'm ready for some real fun now. 

I want to know what is more unlikely--Kyle feathering ANYTHING or you having a few Jager shots.  You know, you dentists could save money on the gas by just loading folks up with a few shots first...just a thought.

Thanks for the kind words about the course.

Chris

Bill_McBride

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Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2010, 11:38:19 PM »
Phil...

I think you are right when you say this, "You walk off 18 not only wanting to play it again but wanting to join the club.  This is more than a "hidden gem" it is very special and will mature into something quite exciting in the next few years."

In fact, I just joined!!    ;D




Good for you, Mac.  Rivermont looks like a fun place to play.

Wade Schueneman

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Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #21 on: November 09, 2010, 10:05:55 PM »
I grew up in Atlanta and have played most of the "big name" courses in the area (except Peachtree), and after 2 rounds at Rivermont I can honestly say that it is easily my favorite course in Atlanta and one of my two favorite in the state of Georgia (along with Seaside). 

The green on #2 is awesome, but so are MOST of the other greens as well in my opinion.

Chris, thank you again so very much for your hospitality.

Mac Plumart

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Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #22 on: November 12, 2010, 09:53:47 PM »
Funny...

I know these dudes!!!

http://gsga.org/sites/courses/layout9.asp?id=436&page=58410

Chris Cupit and Mike Riley.  Winning Championships at Winged Foot (in another life) and now as part of the Rivermont team that wins the Georgia Team Championship over my other club, St. Ives.

Congrats!!!
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

C. Squier

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Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #23 on: November 13, 2010, 09:40:21 AM »
I want to know what is more unlikely--Kyle feathering ANYTHING or you having a few Jager shots. 

Wow, talk about a dead heat. 

PThomas

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Re: Rivermont CC in Atlanta---A True Hidden Gem
« Reply #24 on: November 13, 2010, 07:32:53 PM »
nic pics Mike

wish i coulda made it, maybe next year

keep those beers on ice Chris ;)....
194 played, only 6 to go!!

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