Friday, March 24, 2017

Augusta Canal Tour - National Heritage Area

Paddling is a popular pursuit on the Augusta Canal - Woof Woof!!
Revitalized Mills are a growing part of the canal tour
Kingfisher flying by - woosh!
Tourism is booming in Augusta these days, and going for a boat ride during an Augusta Canal Tour offers a close-up view of not only the old mill area, but the sprawling greenway and bike trail options. While the canal is not very wide, it is a wildlife magnet and I can report sightings of an otter, kingfisher, and turtle along with many kayakers on the water enjoying the gentle flow found in the Augusta Canal. I was surprised to learn that the technology revolution is now driving renovation at some of the old mills along the canal route, bringing economic revitalization.

To learn more about Augusta click on Forest Hills Golf - Frog Hollow Tavern - The Partridge Inn

Tour boats are low-rise to fit under the canal bridges!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Partridge Inn - Augusta

Partridge Inn has classic Southern looks
While there are many hotels options along the I-20 corridor at Augusta, I delved deeper in the downtown area to stay at the Partridge Inn, a historic facility situated on the highest point in town. Established in 1910 this facility has veranda and porches galore to warm the heart of those seeking southern comforts. Upgrades from a regular room include optional suites with a private balcony, and I can recommend a room that face towards the medical district for the best viewing after dark.

Roof Top bar overlooking downtown Augusta
Some rooms come with a private balcony!
The Partridge Inn is a full-service boutique hotel with shuttle van service, restaurant, rooftop bar and lots of historical documents on display. Hilton hotels purchased the property in 2015, making it a fine addition to their Curio collection, which only includes the kind of unique lodging that makes your visit that much more memorable. In room coffee, a snack bar in the lobby, and a full room service menu are always available. While there is no continental breakfast at the Partridge Inn, they offer a considerable breakfast buffet downstairs in the restaurant, and dining on the veranda along Walton’s Way is a must.

Dining on the veranda was awesome
My supper began with a serving of meatballs with spicy yogurt. A crisp outer texture was no surprise given the grill marks, while the inside was pink and soft. The main course of blackened salmon was served with stone ground grits and asparagus. My food was served hot and I was grateful since a light breeze was wafting through the historic magnolia trees near my table. All the service at Partridge Inn, from the front desk to the bar and grill, came with a dose of Southern hospitality.

To view more about Augusta click on Forest Hills Golf - Frog Hollow Tavern - Augusta Canal Tour

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Bobby Jones and Forest Hills - Golf in Augusta

Life Size portrait inside the Forest Hills clubhouse
The nationwide sporting world revolves around college basketball during the annual NCAA tournament known as March Madness. In early April a worldwide audience tunes in the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National.  The significance for Lowcountry residents is that a trip to visit Augusta and play golf there is just a short drive away, and of course the very next week the golf calendar heats up even more as the PGA Tour returns to Hilton Head. Playing at Forest Hills Golf Club connects the dots of golfing history since Bobby Jones won the 1930 Southeastern Open there on his way to completing the historic grand slam that year.

Memorial Plaque to Bobby Jones at No. 1 tee
By chance, my recent visit to play golf at Forest Hills took me right by the Augusta National grounds on Berckmans Road. Looking around the newly renovated pro shop and full service grill at Forest Hills, I learned that the course is owned by Augusta University and operates as a course that is open to the public. Memorabilia on display from 2010 and 2011 commemorates their back-to-back collegiate championships when Patrick Reed was a student. Reed is better known today as a solid PGAT Tour pro, and as the fiery American during international matches such as the Ryder Cup.
For an enjoyable round of golf - Tee it up at Forest Hills
A large plaque by the first tee, erected by the Georgia Historical Society, spells out in great detail how this course is forever tied to the Bobby Jones Grand Slam. Jones called his 13-shot victory on this Donald Ross designed course “the best-played tournament I ever played in my life.” After a straight drive on the first tee, my scorecard after 18 holes was more like an exact opposite of Jones’ magical play. However, I can report that the course is wide-open with lots of sloping topography, large longleaf pine trees and very little water in play. The course was easy to navigate, and lots of Augustans make Forest Hills the place for their Saturday golf plans.

To view this feature story in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view more about Augusta click on Partridge Inn - Frog Hollow Tavern - Augusta Canal Tour
Lots of topography on this course!

For past blog entries on 2016 travels click Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center - ACE Basin NERR - Abbeville - Seabrook Island - Rembert - Boykin - Kershaw County

For past blog entries on 2015 travels click  Little St. Simon's Island - SouthWest Florida - Alabama Black Belt - N.C. Brunswick Islands - Jensen Beach, Florida

For past blog entries on 2014 travels click on Barnsley Resort - Bald Head Island - Chicago - Fontana Village 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Frog Hollow Tavern - Augusta

Scallops with chipped pecans
Marinated Lamb, potato casserole and asparagus
With the recent prosperity from tourism now joining forces with the long-term success of The Masters, Augusta is enjoying the benefits of fine dining. Dinner at The Frog Hollow Tavern downtown at 1282 Broad Street begins with checking in at the hostess station and then taking a seat in a waiting area. Once seated at a table with a view of the sidewalk traffic outside, my server informed me of the special James River Valley oysters from Chesapeake Bay. While I did not choose this option, I knew from being a lifelong oyster connoisseur that this was not your ordinary oyster offering. Instead I chose scallops which were cooked to tender perfection and the butternut squash puree was easy to sop up.

Ready for a hearty supper after a long day outdoors
Going with the “Farm to Table” option included lamb chops with Yonce asparagus and goat cheese potato casserole. The presentation was impressive and the portion of food was equivalent to what a hungry customer would eat. The lamb was dark on one side and pink on the other, and this meat cut easy with a steak knife. The gouda mac and cheese side order was very filling, and I was glad to wash it down with a glass of their House Malbec wine from Mendoza, Argentina.

Could not have said it better!
At the end of my meal I tried the crème brûlée dessert, which was big enough for two. Owner and chef Sean Wight stopped by my table to ask how the meal went and I replied that either I was more hungry than I thought, or everything I tasted was savory because there wasn't much food left. As I exited the restaurant there was not an open table in sight, and parking on Broad Street was packed. And just imagine all the activity the week of the Masters in April, when the epicenter for legendary golf amid southern splendor brings downtown Augusta dining into full bloom.

 To view more about Augusta click on Forest Hills Golf - Augusta Canal Tour - Partridge Inn