Wellness 101: An Eden on the Georgia Golf Trail
Editor’s Note: This post is one in a series featuring the journey of wellness guru and golf enthusiast, A.J. Ali, who is traveling through every state in America while playing golf as a way to raise awareness for healthy living. After losing his father and brother to health-related illnesses and after a close call with a blood clot and pulmonary embolism two years ago, A.J. has dedicated his life to living well and sharing his experiences to encourage others to focus on wellness.
Located in the Appalachian foothills at Pine Mountain, just outside of Columbus, Ga., the features of Callaway Gardens are extensive, excellent and endearing. In many ways, the resort feels unspoiled by today’s frenetic pace of life. It’s still the Eden the Callaways first envisioned… and then some.
For golfers like me, who would rather travel with family than apart from them, Callaway Gardens is the perfect getaway. It’s a worthy destination that will challenge and reward your game, but also comfort you because you know your non-golfing family members are having just as much fun with the resort’s other amenities.
Georgia was state number two in my “Wellness 101 50-State Challenge” journey. After discussing my travel route with Doug Hollandsworth at Georgia Golf and Travel, I decided to experience Callaway Gardens as the perfect stop before making my way to Greenville, South Carolina. What I found during my stay was that it’s true what people say about the kindness of Georgians – every person I met at the resort treated me the same way – like family.
Arriving late at night, after a long drive from Florida, I received a warm reception from Chelsea Mullins, the Summer Family Adventure Coordinator. She gave me the “must see” list, introduced me to several other wonderful team members and then recommended the delicious pecan crusted chicken salad to this weary and hungry traveler. The Vineyard Green, conveniently located right inside the Mountain Creek Inn where I stayed, is one of several great restaurants at Callaway Gardens.
The next morning, I awoke refreshed and ready to experience all the goodness that Callaway Gardens had to offer. Although I would only be there for one full day and small parts of two others, I was determined to see and do as much as possible.
Callaway Gardens has two incredible courses — Lake View and Mountain View. I played Mountain View, which served as the site of the PGA Tour’s Buick Challenge for 12 years from 1991 until 2002. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and my driver got a good workout as most of the tee shots beg you to grip it and rip it. As a bonus, I left there with a dozen more golf balls than I came with after following a few wayward tee shots into the beautiful woods that line the fairways.
After my round (a 99 with 6 fairways hit, 3 greens reached in regulation and 34 putts), I was greeted by an energetic Rachel Crumbley, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, and her son Matt. They took me to see – and do – several things during a couple of sun-drenched hours in the late afternoon.
Matt and I played tennis, I rode a bike along the trails and did the zip line training at the TreeTop Adventure course (I didn’t quite have the time, or guts, to brave the 700-ft zip-line during this visit). We visited the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, saw some of the 700 varieties of Azaleas, and toured Mr. Carson’s 7.5 acre vegetable garden.
While I hardly made a dent in the number of adventures that Callaway Gardens offers, one thing was clear. Everything involved in this awe-inspiring location is based on a love of nature and people and the desire to see them come together in a special way.
There’s one last thing that makes Callaway Gardens extra special: the water. Callaway Blue is a brand of water that is sourced from the Blue Springs at Callaway Gardens and the name comes from the way quartzite rock filters it from the springs. The water is extremely pure as a result and the abundant light refraction gives the water its blue appearance. It may be worth a return trip just to sip the water, savor the sights and simplify life for a few days… and ride that zip line of course.
All in all, Callaway Gardens was like no place I have ever been before. The Mountain View course was impeccable, the activities were endless and the staff and guests welcomed me with open arms. It is clear to see that Callaway Gardens is the hidden Eden of the Georgia Golf Trail.
For more updates, my schedule of wellness stops and plenty of photos and videos, visit www.gofundme.com/wellness101.