Nestled several miles north of Augusta National Golf Club, the 27-hole course complex at Mount Vintage Plantation Golf Club resembles golf’s most hallowed grounds in ways that extend beyond geographical proximity. Designed by Tom Jackson, the course rolls through curtains of carolina pines, speckling nearly 2,000 acres with white-sand bunkers and scenic water features that test the accuracy of every swing.
The two original nines, the Chester and the Vintage, shine with visually stunning vistas and elevation changes—on the Vintage course alone, 8 holes boast a rise or fall of 30 feet or more. Opened in 2008—eight years after its forebears—the Independent course puts water in play on all but 1 hole, testing golfers’ abilities to manage high-pressure shots or skip balls close to pins.
Bethany Roley and her all-female staff of certified group fitness instructors create a supportive environment for ladies get in shape. The great outdoors serves as the stomping grounds for their fit camp activities, and each one-hour session combines cardiovascular conditioning and muscle-toning exercises. Bethany also offers personal training sessions where she hones in on each client’s fitness goals.
Tami, a trainer at North Augusta Martial Arts, leads groups through high-energy boot-camp sessions that quickly burn away calories. In addition to encouraging slimmer, svelter physiques, the classes improve cardiovascular health and endurance.
A mother horse and her newborn colt saunter up to the wooden fence, greeting the children eager to pet the creatures' noses. The team members of Graystone Ranch thrive on seeing these types of interactions. Managing 500 acres of woods and pasturelands that serve as a preserve and rehabilitation center for both domestic and exotic animals, the ranch hands form a nonprofit team dedicated to teaching children and adults how man and animals can live in harmony.
Concurrent with such educational programs as summer camps, the grounds also host abundant recreational opportunities with two spring-fed lakes, wooded hiking and horse-riding trails, zip lines, and a petting zoo. Further diversions range from a gem-and-mineral museum to a horse-painting program, which lets kids put their colored handprints or re-creations of a favorite Monet on the sides of a white horse.
When it comes to nightly entertainment, Joe's Underground Cafe fulfills plenty of pub requisites: trivia, poker, live music, and pint glasses brimming with domestic and imported beer. Although many of its dishes, such as Philly-style cheesesteaks and chicken wings, evoke classic pub grub, the cafe's culinary team doesn’t limit itself. Chefs cater to more refined palates with almond-topped baked brie, whip up comfort foods such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches filled with banana, and prepare homemade desserts.
The warm, no-frills bar sits at the bottom of hard-to-spot stairs, located beneath Augusta's SRP Federal Credit Union but still high above the city's subterranean mutant population.
Reminiscent of the English countryside, a benched wooded trellis leads visitors into Surrey Tavern, where brews and tunes abound every night until 2:30 a.m. While bartenders pour everything from domestic beers to top-shelf liquors, the tavern's ground-level stage hosts a daily lineup of musicians, from acoustic duos to Jimi Hendrix tribute bands. In addition to local and international acts alike, Surrey Tavern entertains patrons with pinball machines and an automatic dartboard. Outside, overhanging greenery enlivens an open-air patio where crowds can sip libations, snack on pub food, and mercilessly tease the sun until the moon scares it away.