BEYOND THE GREENS
From historic tours to water sports, Augusta features so much more than just golf
STORY: Karon Warren
Say “Augusta” and most people usually think of just one thing: the Masters golf tournament held each spring at Augusta National Golf Club. But this Georgia city on the South Carolina border approximately two hours east of Atlanta offers much more outdoor recreation than hitting fairways and putting on the greens.
Take a Tour
Built in 1845 as a source of power, water and transportation for the city, the Augusta Canal today serves as one of the most popular outdoor recreation areas. Along with miles of hiking and biking trails beside the canal, visitors can canoe and kayak on it. Guides from Petersburg Boat Tours provide history and background on the development and evolution of the canal and its impact on Augusta. Not only is seeing a different side of Augusta from the water a lot of fun, but gliding along the canal‘s calm waters is profoundly peaceful.
Petersburg also offers options based on guests‘ interests, including history, nature, the Civil War, music and even the sunset. In addition to Augusta’s natural beauty, other points of interest to check out during a tour include the Confederate Powder Works, the city’s 19th-century textile mills and two 18th-century houses.
Hit the Water
Outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy being on the water will love kayaking on Betty’s Branch, a tributary to the Savannah River. Put in at Riverside Park in Evans, 20 minutes from downtown Augusta. Along the way, boaters will travel under a railroad trestle, see wildlife like turtles sunning on tree logs and catch a glimpse of the Savannah River. The waters here are much more sedate than the quick current of the Savannah River, making it ideal for first-time or less skilled kayakers.
For those who want to experience both the quick and the slow, get in on the Benderdinker, one of the area’s most popular annual kayaking events. It brings together a fun paddle, live music and delicious bites and drinks along the route. Paddlers follow a path up Betty’s Branch and return down the Savannah River, arriving back at the starting point in Riverside Park.
Play the Course
No, not that course, although golfers can head to the Forest Hills or the Bartram Trail greens to get in a few rounds. The courses at the Professional Disc Golf Association headquarters in nearby Appling, Columbia County, however, are designed for disc golfers with three championship courses composed of “holes” among the trees, shrubs and open fields.
Even the most skilled frisbee throwers will likely be challenged by disc golf, a sport that, like traditional golf, requires use of different clubs, that is, discs, each with its own functionality: distance, accuracy and control. Hitting the “hole,” which consists of a chain basket on a pole, is a feat made particularly difficult thanks to obstacles including trees and shrubs, as well as hilly terrain. Even though the sport, like golf, does take skill, the real fun is competing with friends to see who leaves with bragging rights. Plus, it’s a great workout that doesn’t really feel like one.
While Augusta certainly draws a crowd each spring for The Masters, there’s plenty of reason to visit this city throughout the year for its other outdoor offerings.
Professional Disc Golf Association