Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge

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We recently sat down with two cousins, Gwen and Mary Katherine, who planned a family reunion here that they recently celebrated. Growing up in South Georgia, the cousins are familiar with the quiet retreat of Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge. But other family members and spouses who grew up away from the area were a bit more curious about what this park could offer. This is their story, in their own words, about their recent weekend reunion. Mary Katherine: Gwen is an event planner, so I naturally let her take the lead. Our weekend reunion totally rocked because she knew how to herd about 25 people of all ages into an amazing fun time. January is when our extended family meets – after all the holidays – but together to celebrate the New Year.
  • What was your most memorable moment? Playing golf on the Wallace Adams Golf Course with our grandparents and cousins. It’s a beautiful course lined with loblolly pines, magnolias, and willows. Even though it is winter, the warm sunshine and mild temperatures made it easy for us to get in a round. There a
  • re golf supplies, snacks, beer, clothing, and souvenirs at the Pro Shop where you also rent golf carts.
Gwen: Mary Katherine is the one who arranged the welcome gifts for family by visiting McRae-Helena just a couple miles away, and shopping at the local boutiques. That was a nice touch! And it felt good to support and shop local. (Horse Creek Winery makes a watermelon pink semi-sweet wine called Jubilee and it tastes incredible.) There are 60 rooms at the Pete Philips Lodge where we stayed. It overlooks the golf course, which is central here. We booked a group rate, and each family member made their own reservation under the family name.
  • What was your most memorable moment? Telling funny family stories by the warm, glowing fire pit behind the lodge at sunset. We laughed so hard! Our family is crae crae – in a good way.
Mary Katherine: We planned different outings that families could sign up for. For example, we reserved a picnic shelter by Lake Thaxton where there is a miniature golf course designed like the real course. It may be mini golf, but even the adults were challenged to get the balls to the holes in par! It was good, outdoor fun for the kids close by our picnic gathering. Another outing was reserving complimentary bicycles at the front desk for our teens who preferred to explore on their own. They got to explore the whole park on wheels.
  • What was your favorite outing? Fishing in the 256-acre lake. The lake was created by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s around the natural diversion of the Little Ocmulgee River. There is a lovely, white sandy beach, fishing docks, and a boat ramp.
Gwen: We haven’t even described the amazing food and drinks yet! The Fairway Restaurant is where we gathered for breakfast and lunch. It overlooks holes 6 and 7 on the golf course and has high, vaulted ceilings with wooden buttresses and beautiful stonework. The menu is Southern and casual. Think delicious and healthy meals the old-fashioned way. If we weren’t out in the town, we would have dinner at Mulligan’s Grille which offers more of a pub-style menu with beers on tap or tasty cocktails made to order. What’s better than a hamburger grilled to that perfect temperature and decked out with crispy fried onion rings! Paired with a cool India pale ale, your day is going well.
  • What was your favorite outing? A long morning hike on our second day together. You have got to experience all or part of the looping 6-mile Oak Ridge Trail in the longleaf pine ecosystem. This is where South Georgia’s nature gets weird and wild! We passed stands of turkey oaks and swamps with cypress trees. Walking the white sand hills sometimes feels like walking on a beach. We kept our eyes open for two of Georgia’s rarest species, the harmless Indigo snake and the gopher tortoise – signs stated we might see them, but no luck this time.
Little Ocmulgee State Park is a tranquil 1,360-acre Georgia State Park on the Little Ocmulgee River. Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge offers 60 Lodge guest rooms, 10 cottages (currently under renovation), and a campground with 54 sites for tent and R/V camping. Call 229-868-7474 or visit littleocmulgeelodge.com to arrange your family reunion, wedding, work retreat, honeymoon, guys and gals golf weekends – you imagine the party and we’ll make it happen for you. When asked if they had any parting words for the readers about their reunion, both Gwen and Mary Katherine shared: May your first or next visit be fun, exciting, and memorable as ours!
One of the not-so-secret gems of the South is calling for you. Listen for the whispers of wildlife at Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge – a getaway destination that is the definition of serenity. Little Ocmulgee State Park is known for phenomenal golf. Plus, the nature in the park is simply awe-inspiring and is a haven for people who love to swim (in summer), go out boating, fishing, hiking, and stargazing. My wife and family booked a pre-Thanksgiving weekend at Little Ocmulgee. We surprised my parents with this destination vacation. My parents are getting on in years, and it’s not so easy to get around like they used to, so this park is ideal for accommodating everyone. Some of the highlights of our vacation included: Warm Fall Hikes Being in South Georgia, the weather is always a bit warmer than Atlanta, where we live. The topography of this park ranges from sand hills to lake swamp, giving us a wide range of wildlife and plant life to enjoy. Watch for wading birds, wood ducks, elusive alligators, gopher tortoises, browsing deer, ancient-looking armadillos, and so much more! These are common sightings, but not usually encounters. We always stay on the trails and give animals plenty of space.
  • The Short Loop Trail made hiking easier for the kids and grandparents. It is 1.7 miles in length and winds through the longleaf pine ecosystem with views of superior magnolia trees, Spanish moss, and pine trees, including loblolly and longleaf.
Picnic on the Beach One afternoon we all relaxed with a picnic at Thaxton Beach. It was a comfortable afternoon – light sweaters for some – and the picnic was the best because we picked it up ready-made from Mulligan’s Grille at the lodge. We sampled a selection of tacos, hot ham croissants, a shared chef salad, and grilled chicken wings. Thaxton Beach is a white sand beach on the shore of the Little Ocmulgee Lake. It’s a little chilly for swimming here in November, but the warm sands under our picnic blankets and gentle breezes felt just right.
  • If you are coming around Christmas time, check out Sparkle in the Park holiday lights display!
Wallace Adams Golf Course For those of you who golf, the 18-hole Wallace Adams golf course is the central attraction here with a clubhouse, golf pro, and unlimited weekday play and junior/senior discounts. It’s a stunning course lined with loblolly pines, magnolias, and willows. The Pete Philips Lodge, where we stayed, overlooks the golf course. In the back you’ll find a fire pit with chairs, perfect for meeting fellow lodge guests and taking in a spectacular sunset. We used complimentary bikes to skirt around the park. They’re available by request at the front desk. Consider this park a gift for current and future generations. Little Ocmulgee State Park opened to the public in 1940. Today the park is 83 years old (like my dad who came here with us). Around 1935, residents began acquiring land along the Little Ocmulgee River to conserve these special places before development would encroach. With the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps and the National Park Service, the park was assembled, and lodging and amenities were constructed during those formative years. I am grateful for the conservation actions of everyone and government coordination long ago. Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge offers 60 Lodge guest rooms, 10 cottages (currently under renovation, to open spring 2024), and 54 sites for tent and R/V camping. Call 229-868-7474 or visit littleocmulgeelodge.com to arrange your amazing Christmas or New Year’s getaway for golfing, fishing, boating, and total relaxation – multiple generations included. Bryan C.

The months are yielding to shorter days with temptations to make weekend getaways to cozy places. My partner and I reserved one of the golf course view rooms at Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge for our Fall getaway.

Close to Golf, Even in Our Dreams
The park’s lodge has 60 super comfortable and modern rooms. If you are here for golf, like we are, try to get rooms close to the action where you can see people playing from a distance from the room’s doorstep.

The Fairway Grill is also close to the 18-hole championship Wallace Adams Golf Course adjacent to holes 6 and 7. When you’re ready for this “19th hole” it’s possible you’ll be watching the last groups come in for the day as you cheer with a pale ale, martini, or even hot chocolate with marshmallows.

If you are new to Little O, as locals fondly call Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge, we have a couple of fall tips you might use:

  • Ask at the front desk about the use of free bicycles to make getting around the park a lot more fun and easier.
  • After dinner, bring your drinks to the lodge fire pit where it’s possible to see constellations on a clear night and meet others staying at the lodge.

The Park after Dark
Bright stars at night … that’s what rural countryside gives us. You will not be disappointed by the night sky at Little Ocmulgee. Stargaze without city light pollution. Listen for the symphony of natural sounds as some nocturnal wildlife begin to stir.

And if you are here in October, check out Helena-McRae events. Save the dates for:

Harvest Paddle
Saturday, October 14, 2023: 7:30 am
Lumber City Landing in Telfair County

Big Bend Paddlers is a paddle group organized by the Telfair County Chamber of Commerce in McRae-Helena. Bring your own kayak/canoe. This is the prettiest stretch of the Ocmulgee River with shaded areas of overhanging oaks and scenic sand bars around the bends. Get ready for a bird watching wildlife paradise in the company of others along this peaceful stretch. 

Matt Stone: ELVIS 
Saturday, October 21, 2023: 7:30 pm
Telfair Center for the Arts

The Pioneer Historical Society presents ELVIS, one of Graceland's Top Elvis Tribute Artists. Florida native Matt Stone’s remarkable voice and fiery stage presence is selling theatres to capacity. Tickets are $15; $20 door.

Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge offers 60 Lodge guest rooms, 10 cottages, and 54 sites for tent and R/V camping. Call 229-868-7474 or visit littleocmulgeelodge.com to arrange your amazing fall getaway for golfing, fishing, boating, and total relaxation.

By Anita B.

Does your nonprofit organization hold an annual Golf Fundraiser? Consider Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge in South Georgia as your host location. Why? Because everything that you need to pull off a fantastic daylong or overnight experience is right here.

I am finalizing details for a nonprofit organization’s inaugural golf tournament fundraiser in Spring 2024. If you’re in charge of a fundraiser, consider the golf amenities at the park’s own Wallace Adams Golf Course.

Little Ocmulgee’s Wallace Adams Golf Course is one of Georgia’s finest 18-hole golf courses. Here in the white sandhills region, the golf course is bordered by laurel oaks and turkey oaks, willows, magnolias, and loblolly pines, giving it a mystical Southern overlay.

The Wallace Adams Golf Course features Bermuda fairways and TifEagle Bermuda greens that you’d expect from well-known courses.

Golf carts or walk? I suggest for those who will be competing in the tournament first to walk the course in order to feel every bend and hazard and gain insights to lower their score in upcoming rounds.

Right off the golf course is Little Ocmulgee State Park Lodge featuring amazing views of the green fairways. It’s an intimate feeling to be so close to a game that you love. These could be rooms and suites that you reserve for VIPs attending the fundraiser.

The Fairway Restaurant overlooks the sixth and seventh holes and offers a casual dining atmosphere with high, vaulted ceilings. Full-service catering is provided for events in the lodge.

The catering team presents options for both buffet service or plated meals that can be hosted in the restaurant or one of our private conference rooms. Internet connection, Wifi, and audio/video equipment are available to keep your group connected.

The Pro Shop
Inside the pro shop is a tempting selection of golf accessories, clubs, apparel for men and women, and a snack and beverage bar. The Pro Shop can provide rental clubs for the fundraiser– but for groups, you’ll need to make a reservation

Did you know? There is even an airstrip a few miles away which makes it convenient for some guests who may arrive by private plane.

It feels peaceful here. No wonder Wallace Adams Golf Course is perennially ranked among the top courses in Georgia. Here’s to my fundraiser’s success, and to yours!

Plan your fundraiser: Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge offers 60 Lodge guest rooms, 10 cottages, and 54 sites for tent and R/V camping. Call 229-868-7474 to discuss your fundraiser with event staff.

By Tomas D.


South Georgia’s Family Resort

It’s time for summer vacation to begin! Yearning for a golf weekend getaway that the whole family can enjoy together? My family recently enjoyed our annual Memorial Day weekend golf reunion at Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge. The biggest selling point for us each year is all the activities there are to do outside of the golf course – especially for the young ones in the family.

Little Ocmulgee State Park is definitely a unique place in South Georgia, where the topography ranges from sand hills to lake wetlands. Locals started to appreciate this region more in the early 40’s, so they bought these lands, with the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps and the National Park Service, to increase environmental protection for future generations to enjoy.

Look for wildlife: Wood ducks and alligators, gopher tortoises, deer, and armadillos are some of the amazing animals you may see.

The accessible Splash Pad opened this weekend! From Memorial Day to Labor Day kids can dance in the water sprays on a hard foam surface. The Splash Pad is free to the public from Thursday to Sunday during the summer. We watched the kids laugh and experiment with water spray movements while making some new friends they would play with again at the park.

As guests of the lodge, we also timed our visit with the opening of the pool for summer. After a game of golf, is there any better way to cool off than with a one-off cannonball contest with your son?

Splash Pad:

  • Open now through Labor Day: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm
  • No lifeguard on duty. Splash at your own risk.

Lodge Pool & Thaxton Beach

  • Swimming pool is open to registered overnight guests.
  • You can also spread towels on the white sands of Thaxton Beach and swim in the lake.

Another great summertime activity for the whole family is to order lunch to-go from Mulligan’s Grille or The Fairway Restaurant. We sat at the picnic shelters by Ocmulgee Lake and Thaxton Beach.

Free miniature golf is beside the pavilions and is designed as a miniature replica of the park’s Wallace Adams Golf Course. Don’t forget to bring your fishing gear as the lake is full of largemouth bass, bluegill, white crappie, and redear sunfish.

We couldn’t let the weekend end without a visit to the full-service pro shop at Little Ocmulgee’s Wallace Adams Golf Course. Inside the pro shop is a wide selection of golf accessories, club rentals, along with a snack and beverage bar. Our wives wanted new golf dresses and we bought golf shirts with the course logo to add to our collections.

Little Ocmulgee’s Wallace Adams Golf Course is one of South Georgia’s finest 18-hole golf courses. Here in the white sandhills region, the course is surrounded by laurel oaks and turkey oaks, willows, magnolias, and loblolly pines – it’s like being in a Southern novel when you play this course.

The Wallace Adams Golf Course features Bermuda fairways and TifEagle Bermuda greens that you’d expect from a premium, big city golf resort. This is good stuff.

Walking is permitted year-round but because of the midday heat, we agreed two golf carts with some shade would be helpful. Stock up on water and drinks from the pro shop, even ice-cold beers and ice cream.

If your kids don’t often play golf, they can learn techniques and practice at the driving range, chipping area and practice green to encourage comfort and consistency.

We love this course. It’s a frame of mind: you are free from distractions. You are playing golf on a fair course without sweating over how to get out of a sand trap.

Some of the lodge’s rooms are right off the golf course with views of players passing through.  

For Tee Times, call the Pro Shop: 229-868-6651

  • The course is open daily (except Dec. 25)
  • Hours: 8 am to Dusk
  • Holes: 18
  • Yards: 6,625

We thanked all the staff for helping us navigate our weekend by recommending things to do both in the park and in town. They know and love their area and are happy to share locals’ knowledge and history.

May your summer sizzle and sparkle as you make a splash in Ocmulgee Lake, in the pool and splash pad, and as ice drops into your carbonated and mixed drinks at the lodge’s Mulligan’s Grille.

Plan your stay: Just south of McRae-Helena, Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge offers 60 Lodge guest rooms, 10 cottages, and 54 sites for tent and R/V camping.

By Craig V.

South Georgia’s Best Golf

Each spring, the fairways at Little Ocmulgee’s Wallace Adams Golf Course see more golfers – all ages and skill levels – because this is one of South Georgia’s finest 18-hole golf courses. Here in the white sandhills region, the course is surrounded by laurel oaks and turkey oaks, willows, magnolias, and loblolly pines – the kind of idyllic Southern landscape you only see in films.

A gopher tortoise may emerge from the woods to peek in on the action. The Wallace Adams course also has a driving range, chipping area and practice green for players to warm up in advance of their round.

  • Did you know? The gopher tortoise is Georgia’s state reptile and is a threatened keystone species in the longleaf pine ecosystem – seeing one is rewarding. Conservation actions are working to restore the habitats these tortoises and other species of the region depend on.

Are you convinced you need to join us? Come on! I just stayed here recently during our church retreat and was able to play golf with some in the youth group who have never held a golf club, and some who are on winning high school teams.

Little O’s golf course features the Bermuda fairways and TifEagle Bermuda greens that you’d expect from a premium big city golf resort, but here in South Georgia, expect the fantastic.

Walking is permitted year-round, but teens being teens, of course we advanced to each hole with golf carts.

The full-service pro shop offers all golf accessories including club rentals, along with a snack and beverage bar. After golf, we all headed to Mulligan’s Grille (the 19th hole), with excellent Southern comfort foods, drinks for all ages, and sports on TV (March Madness basketball!).

Folks from as far and near as Savannah, Jacksonville, Atlanta and beyond are converging in the nearby town of Vidalia for its world-famous Vidalia Onion Festival April 20-23, 2023! This is another reason booking a stay at Little Ocmulgee is a wonderful idea this spring.

The celebration of the harvest of Georgia’s official vegetable, the Vidalia® Onion, includes a four-day festival that’s packed with fun-filled activities that offer something for everyone. The Vidalia Onion Festival has been featured on The Food Network and recognized as one of the Top 5 Don’t-Miss Festivals Across the U.S. by MSNBC and a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event.  

Here's to sunset at the end of each of your days at Little O! You’ll be happy here at the end of an enlightened day.

Plan your stay: Just south of McRae-Helena, Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge offers 60 Lodge guest rooms, 10 cottages, and 54 campsites for tent and R/V camping.

I’m a Presbyterian Church youth group leader. Really, just a parent volunteer who loves to help kids find their true selves in the tangle of the teen years. This Spring Break, we are taking 25 high schoolers on a road trip from Atlanta to Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge in South Georgia.

Lake 8990

Far from big city distractions and garish night lights, we’ll be venturing into the woods to be surrounded by sand hills, pine trees, cool water, and serenely comfortable accommodations.

I learned when arranging our youth retreat that the lodge accommodates every kind of group, from business retreats to weddings and family reunions.

Fun Fact: Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge accommodates conference groups, reunions, and weddings of up to 200 people.

Our youth retreat is more about outdoor recreation, with morning and evening gathering times scheduled. The lodge is outfitted with the latest technology and the conference services team will help me with audio-visual set-up for our group presentations.

The lodge also has full-service catering for buffet service or plated meals. Our group, of course, is casual and rambunctious, so we’re doing breakfast and dinner buffets, with lunches packed for us as we go out kayaking, swimming, golfing, hiking, and relaxing by Little Ocmulgee Lake on Thaxton Beach during the days.

Fun Fact: Nearby, the annual Vidalia Onion Festival is April 20-23, 2023! Live bands and food and culture combine in a celebration of Georgia’s official state vegetable, the Vidalia Onion.

Outside of catering, our group can also visit the Fairway Grill restaurant that overlooks the Wallace Adams Golf Course. This is the restaurant that is handling our boxed lunches, and the authentic Southern food is amazing, so we’re ready to be satisfied!

A big focus of our retreat is to be in touch with nature and our youthfulness by engaging in the outdoors. If you’re not too familiar with all that is offered here, here’s a breakdown of the explorations and discoveries everyone has access to:

  • Group picnics in the picnic shelter are close to the 265-acre Little Ocmulgee Lake. The shelters have benches and grills and are fully covered for sun or rain.
  • A mini golf course is designed to be a mini replica of the Wallace Adams Golf Course and is free for all to play by the picnic shelters.
  • Sun-soaked days splashing in the private pool and Splash Pad (both open Memorial Day weekend)
  • Thaxton Beach is a white sand beach to spread out towels, picnic blankets and enjoy swimming, reading, or launching a kayak into the water. Fishing is allowed with state license on the lake’s dock.
  • Golfers are challenged by the highly regarded Wallace Adams Golf Course – recognized as one of the best public courses in the South.
  • Hiking through rare plant communities on a 2.6-mile loop is best done in the morning or evening during the late Spring and Summer seasons.

I hope you are learning that planning a group event at Little O is rewarding because of the beauty and adventurous options surrounding the experience.

Lake 8865

This may become an annual retreat for our youth group because the kids who came two years ago voted to have us go back. With everything there is to see and do, and an amazing conference services team who backs up all your plans with exquisite detail, you’ll find Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge is a cinch.

Plan your stay: Just south of McRae-Helena, Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge offers 60 Lodge guest rooms and 54 campsites for tent and R/V camping.

By Quentin Jones

Closer to the Atlantic coast of Georgia than most people realize, Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge is an exciting option for any family looking to do something festive – away from home - this holiday season. Follow along while I share what I’m learning about “Sparkle in the Park” festivities for all ages.

Sparkle in the Park – Dec. 3 through Jan. 2
Check this out: Visitors can drive through a special Christmas light display called Sparkle in the Park every evening from December 3 to January 2. This illuminating experience is made possible by Friends of Little Ocmulgee State Park and costs just the $5 state park Parking Pass fee (donations for the Friends are welcome).

Holiday “Blanket-In” Movies – Dec. 10
I’m also looking into the weekend of Saturday, December 10, for experiencing two classic children’s Christmas movies under the stars. Visitors bring lawn chairs and blankets, and the show begins at dark. The $5 Parking Pass covers the cost, and concessions are available for purchase from the Friends of Little Ocmulgee State Park. All this takes place in the field behind Picnic Shelter #2.

Meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus – Dec. 17
If kids want to meet Santa and whisper their wish lists, he and his wife and some elves will be at will be at Picnic Shelter #2 transformed into a Santa’s Workshop from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm on Saturday, December 17. Mrs. Claus will read aloud the classic story, T’was the Night Before Christmas. Mingle with the elves and enjoy cookies, hot chocolate, and punch. Event is free with $5 Parking Pass.

*Oh! One more thing about this evening: Sleigh rides will be offered through the Sparkle in the Park light display for $1 per person.

Plan your stay: Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge offers 60 Lodge guest rooms, 10 cottages, and 54 campsites for tent and R/V camping.

I hope you are learning a bit more about all the holiday fun available in South Georgia by Little Ocmulgee Lake. It feels like the central place to be for relaxation and a sparkle of holiday cheer!

By Quentin Jones

Feel Cooler Breezes Across the Sands, Little Ocmulgee River, and Wallace Adams Golf Course

Just a few miles north of McRae-Helena on the Little Ocmulgee River is a 1,360-acre oasis of hospitality and wilderness in South Georgia. We call it “Little O” but others will know it as Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge.

Fall may be my favorite season in this part of the state. It’s football season, and if you don’t have rooms booked yet for the Georgia-Florida game on October 29, click here. And with the new addition of the lodge’s restaurant, Mulligan’s Grille, you won’t have to worry about missing a football game while enjoying time on the road with loved ones.

Our family loves staying at Little Ocmulgee because though not far from Atlanta, we can relax in wooded seclusion away from the hustle, and traffic of our city life. Here are my Top 3 Reasons for continuing to visit Little O, especially in the fall..

No. 1:    Getting There: Explore the backroads of the Magnolia Midlands

Little O is in Telfair County, part of the Southern hospitality network of South Georgia counties collectively known as the Magnolia Midlands. If you’re driving to Little O on a Friday, you’re in luck. Many of the restaurants in Magnolia Midlands celebrate the Southern ritual of Fish Fry Fridays - when people after work and school head to the river sand bars and throw out lines for catfish.

As you plan your stay at Little O, plan to travel to Helena-McRae along the scenic backroads. You’re going to find lots of small-town charm like a local art market in a family’s barn! I bought a “chicken sculpture” from a farmer-welder that people have remarked on for years. Driving these byways slows down the pace, makes me appreciate Georgia for its real-ness. I stop for Georgia Grown products, real Southern cooking, and antique shops. And while you’re at little O, look up the nearby museums that capture the essence and history of the towns.

No. 2: Telfair County Farmers Market

I always look forward to visiting the Telfair County Farmers Market at 139 North Third Avenue in McRae-Helena Saturdays from 9 am to 2 pm year-round. When it’s growing in season, it’s for sale: watermelons, Vidalia onions, sweet corn, lettuces and herbs, strawberries, peaches and pecans. You can also purchase handmade crafts from local artisans. Stock up on holiday gifts for your office colleagues, friends, and family.

No. 3: Outside at Little O

Cooler breezes mean that play on the championship Wallace Adams Golf Course will be a breeze, literally! So is hiking. The 2.6-mile loop trail is a vibrant example of the white sandhills of Georgia. There are cacti I want to check on to see how they grew with all the rains this summer.

And calling all water babies, come with your fishing rods and kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle boards to launch from Thaxton Beach. Little Ocmulgee River won’t be cold yet, and the fall colors and breezes will feel so refreshing. Here are all the things to do at Little O.

Plan your stay: Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge offers 60 Lodge guest rooms, 10 cottages, and 54 campsites for tent and R/V camping.

See you in the South of the State!

By LYDIA SEA, Georgia wanderer finding off-the-beaten path places (and gems!)

Summer Golf at Little O Locals call it Little O, short for Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge. Just a few miles north of McRae-Helena on the Little Ocmulgee River is the 1,360-acre oasis of wilderness and comfort in South Georgia. Have you been? This last part of summer is the time to come, when their famed Wallace Adams Golf Course is not as busy as it is in Fall and Spring. Why so busy? This is a truly amazing course. Left: Pro Shop Photo I began my adventure in the pro shop checking out the golf wear for women, choosing a sassy pink golf dress because I wanted to look the part of a bold athlete! This is where you sign in, get the keys to your cart, enjoy a hot dog with relish, and pack the cooler with ice and drinks. The 18-hole Wallace Adams Golf Course is lined with loblolly pines – you may even see a red-cockaded woodpecker. Fragrant magnolia trees are mixed with willows that love water. This is an affordable, peaceful, yet challenging golf experience. Walking is permitted year-round but since it’s summer, we spoiled ourselves, using the cart for shade and ease. My group found that the greens roll true. Even with late afternoon thunderstorms alternating with South Georgia summer sunshine, the course is in great shape. The Bermuda grass fairways are neatly trimmed. New to golf, but learning from others, I overheard that this is a narrow front nine and a more open back nine. This is what is considered a fair course without hidden water hazards or secret sand traps. I can even call this course friendly – because everyone, beginners included, can feel their way around each hole. We loved the ponds, stone masonry bridge and water features. I enjoyed seeing teens with dads, and women’s groups on the course. Anyone can play golf and South Georgia hospitality is underfoot everywhere. Wallace Adams also has a driving range, chipping area and practice green where you can warm up and keep the arms and back fluid. We returned a set of rented clubs and parted ways to clean up back at the lodge.

Photo: bridge and water feature

The lights were on at the 19th hole – Mulligan’s Grille! We were diverse in what we enjoyed: a Kentucky Mule with bourbon, ginger beer and lime juice, pinot grigio and a selection of cool, pale ales with pub-style foods. If you’re hungry, try the BB Smash Burger – complete with pimiento cheese and applewood smoked bacon. Cheers! I look forward to my next visit. See you on the fairway! Plan your stay: Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge offers 60 Lodge guest rooms, 10 cottages, and 54 campsites for tent and R/V camping. The Lodge is adjacent to the golf course with views of the elegant fairways. Yes, there’s a guest-only swimming pool! You’ll need it and love it all. Place photo: food/drinks at Mulligan’s Grille By LYDIA SEA, Georgia wanderer finding off-the-beaten path places (and gems!)  
Plan a Reunion, and Weekend Getaway by White Sands and Water If you enjoy driving the scenic back roads to and from the coast as I do, perhaps you have seen the signs for Little Ocmulgee State Park? Not long ago, curiosity got the better of me and I pulled right in to check out this South Georgia gem. For a $5 car fee you enter the park and can let the kids play in the complimentary splash pad plus mini golf course or cool off in the lake. Little Ocmulgee State Park is a peaceful 1,360-acre Georgia State Park two miles north of McRae-Helena on the Little Ocmulgee River. Look down at the soil, which is more of a fine white sand. It makes for a soft lakeside beach perfect for relaxing. Image caption: The mini golf course is designed identically to scale as the Wallace Adams Golf Course. Taking in the beauty of the park, it made me think it would be the perfect destination wedding, family reunion, or weekend getaway destination. Imagine an e-vite or invitation with the words: Welcome to the white sand hills of South Georgia Above: People swim at Thaxton Beach on the sandy shore of Little Ocmulgee Lake There are seven picnic shelters and two group shelters available for reservation by the lake. When I visited, it was graduation weekend and families were honoring new grads with picnics. One of the group shelters hosted a family reunion, and they brought a smoker. Their laughter and playfulness together—every generation—was touching to me. They wore a family reunion tee-shirt. I was ready to be adopted! These shelters offered much more than shade and picnic tables; their proximity to the lake means there’s even more to do when visiting together. Some families were picnicking on Thaxton Beach by the lake. Kids and adults were splashing, laughing, drying off and sipping drinks while food was coming out of coolers and baskets.     I watched another family spend graduation weekend kayaking on the water. I know that next time I visit I will bring friends and kayaks because everything is so beautiful and peaceful here. I wanted to stretch my legs, so I highly recommend a stroll along the short loop or the longer 2.6-mile Oak Ridge Trail, where some of South Georgia’s rare plant and animal species are protected. Much of the sandy pathways are covered in shade by loblolly pines and even the rarer long leaf pines. Interior swamps are shaded by cypress and oaks. You’re not likely to see the harmless, non-venomous Eastern indigo snake, but if you do, it might be out in the sunshine warming its glossy body. Another protected animal you have an even better chance of seeing is the gopher tortoise. It’s faster than you think, so I stepped out of the way when I met one along the golf cart path. Image: Gopher Tortoise along the Wallace Adams Golf Course   Image: Lodging   Plan your stay: Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge offers 60 Lodge guest rooms, 10 cottages, and 54 campsites for tent and R/V camping. The Lodge is adjacent to the golf course with views of the elegant fairways. Complementary bicycles are available at the Lodge entrance, “for a reasonable amount of time,” as they say at the front desk. It was a great way to check out different areas of the park without using my car. When you stay at the Lodge, you can also swim at the private pool! It’s the best way to relax in the early summer sun and to continue making memories with family and friends during your South Georgia destination getaway.    
Georgia is well known for its stunning and challenging golf courses. People the world over know about The Masters® tournament every April, but true masters of Georgia golf know that the pristine setting and classic design of Little Ocmulgee’s Wallace Adams Golf Course offers a similar experience for a fraction of the price. Ranked as one of the best courses in the Southeast, the Wallace Adams course is surrounded by loblolly pines, willows, and magnolias, creating the perfect natural setting for a round reminiscent of the legendary Masters® course. I’ve seen the Augusta icon, but like most Georgians, will never get a chance to play it. That’s why I frequent Wallace Adams at Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge. Wallace Adams is a course for everyone. I like to describe it as friendly because the course allows players to play distraction free, without worry of hidden water hazards and secret sand traps. Skilled players and beginners alike will love the challenge of the front nine, where the pines and vegetation hug each hole, creating beautifully crafted settings that require shot-making skills. I score better when I make well-thought shots off the tee instead of hitting purely for distance on every drive. The back nine, originally designed by O.C. Jones of the Robert Trent Jones family, is less restrictive and features smaller, sloping greens that follow doglegging fairways. Regardless of the style of play, golfers here must be thoughtful of each shot. Every playing style – long-ball hitters and short-game strikers – must use their skills wisely. I got in trouble trying to air it out in hopes of straightening the doglegs. If you make it, it can pay off, but be careful. If you don’t make it, you can easily find yourself in a difficult situation. I learned my lesson after having to punch out of deep rough when I didn’t clear a stand of pines. I suggest picking your spots carefully in the fairways to set up skillful second and third shots to lower your score. Along the way I enjoyed the lush Bermuda fairways and TifEagle Bermuda greens that are as pristine as the most renowned golf resorts in the world. Grabbing a cart is always an option, but I suggest taking the time to walk the course, which is allowed year-round. Walking let me see every bend, every hump, and every hazard from a new perspective, giving me the information I needed to lower my score in subsequent rounds. The full-service pro shop at Wallace Adams course had everything I needed to be ready to play. It had the full range of golf accessories, clubs, apparel, and more. I brought my own, but if packing your clubs is not an option for your stay at Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge, the pro shop also has clubs for rent. The practice area at Wallace Adams is well maintained and was the perfect place to get in the groove before my tee time. The chipping area features approaches like what I saw on the course and the practice green was the same speed as those on the course and gave me the chance to learn how to read the greens before teeing off. There is also a fully stocked snack and beverage bar so you can properly fuel your round. A Bloody Mary to start and a couple of beers after 18 holes was the perfect way to end a great round of golf. I also noticed during my stay at Little Ocmulgee that Wallace Adams Golf Course is a favorite among locals who are lucky enough to live nearby. But with the lodge at Little Ocmulgee State Park on site, it is also the perfect place for a full-fledged golf getaway. There is even an airstrip nearby so you can fly in to stay and play. It’s easy for me to see why Wallace Adams Golf Course is perennially ranked among the top courses in Georgia. Book your next golf retreat by visiting us online or calling 229-868-7474. Tee times can be made ahead of your arrival at https://little-ocmulgee-golf-course.book.teeitup.com or by calling the Golf Pro Shop at 229-868-6651.