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By Len Ziehm

This is not a report on your traditional golf travel destinations.  Sky Valley Country Club is in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  At an elevation of 3,297 feet it’s the highest and northern- most course in Georgia.

The location is a plus for this Georgia Golf Trail layout, which justifiably bills itself as “Georgia’s Highest and Coolest City’’  and “Georgia’s Summer Retreat.’’

“We’re the only club in our range that’s open to the public and open year-around,’’ said Ryan DeBois, the club’s general manager. “All but two of the others are completely private and are closed between Nov. 1 and April 30. We’ve had people playing in January.’’

Though the temperatures were on the high side for this area during our visit, Sky Valley attracts plenty of visitors anxious to escape the heat of nearby states – particularly Florida. It’s also a 2 ½-hour drive from Atlanta, so that area provides large numbers of visitors as well.

One minor drawback, though.  The location of Sky Valley – the name of the club as well as the city in which it resides – isn’t easy to pinpoint on maps.

“We’re different.  We straddle the North Carolina and Georgia state lines,’’ said DeBois. “Our back nine is in Georgia but a couple of the holes on the front nine are in North Carolina.’’

Anyway, Sky Valley is located between the towns of Clayton, Ga., and Highlands, N.C.  It’s in Rabun County, Ga., and is included in the Highlands Plateau area that includes Cashiers, N.C.

Sky Valley is no mystery to people in the know. Two former Georgia governors and a president of Florida State University have had homes in the mountains overlooking the course, and football coaching legend Nick Saban has been a frequent player there.

There’s been a golf course at Sky Valley since the 1980s. A resort course was built on a cattle farm there, and a chimney from those days still adorns the No. 3 fairway.. The facility had an array of problems surviving until a founders group of neighbors banded together to pull it out of bankruptcy in 2010 and took ownership in 2013. More