The history of the Barnsley Resort is very poetic, if not sad. Godfrey Barnsley, a businessman and cotton broker who became one of the wealthiest people in the southeastern United States, built Woodlands, the original manor, in the North Georgia foothills for his wife, Julia. Woodlands and its elaborate gardens were inspired by the work of Andrew Jackson Downing, a pioneering landscape designer. Construction began in the 1840s on land that the government took from the Cherokee nation and divided into 160-acre homesteads, of which Barnsley purchased three. Julia would never see the home built for her and passed away before its completion. In 1906, long after Godfrey had passed away, the roof of the main house was blown off by a tornado and the family moved into the kitchen wing. The main house was never restored and is part of the “Ruins” you find on the property, just beyond the Rice House restaurant. The entire property is gorgeous and meticulously maintained.
Barnsley Resort offers visitors the pleasures and pursuits of a fine Southern estate: exceptional cuisine, a championship golf course, a sporting club, relaxing spa, excellent horseback riding and wilderness trails for hiking, walking and biking. It’s perfect for leisure vacations, business meetings, and romantic getaways and is just a short drive from either Atlanta or Chattanooga.
If you’re checking in to Barnsley Resort with nothing specific in mind to do for the next few days, trust me, you won’t be bored. Want to relax and take it easy? Consider the seasonal swimming pool, a relaxing canoe ride on the lake or a nice leisurely stroll around the grounds. If you want something a little more strenuous, how about biking, hiking or horseback riding? Shooters will find the Beretta Shooting Grounds by High Adventure Company to be one of the top wing shooting and sporting clays facilities in the Southeast with two 14-station clays courses that feature a diverse layout of shots.
For many guests, Barnsley Resort is all about the golf. Whether you’re playing a round on the Fazio Course or taking a lesson at the Golf Performance Center, you’re bound to be impressed. The Jim Fazio designed golf course offers stunning views of the North Georgia mountains and features what many golfers consider to be the best collections of par 3’s in all of Georgia. The course blends in well with its natural surroundings and features strategically placed hazards that make the course incredibly memorable. There’s plenty of room off most tees and the approach shots to many of the greens involve avoiding a hazard or two, but what you’ll likely remember most are the greens. They are some of the quickest, most undulated greens I have ever encountered and only add to the thrill of this North Georgia golf masterpiece.
The other piece of the golf puzzle at Barnsley is the Golf School. At the ripe old age of 32, Head Teaching Professional Kyle Morris has been studying the golf swing for more than half his life. In his own words, Kyle fell in love with the game at the age of 5 and by the time he was 16 years old he was caddying for a friend of his on one of the professional tours. During that time, Kyle developed a passion for the mechanics of the golf swing and decided to make a career out of it. He attended the Golf Academy of America in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where he studied Sport Psychology, Methods of Teaching, Biomechanics and Attitude & Motivation Assessment. After a few stints as an Assistant Pro at various clubs, Kyle made the decision to get back into teaching full time and took the position of Head Teaching Professional at Barnsley Resort.
After spending an hour with Kyle at the Golf School at Barnsley Resort, I’d say he made a smart career move. He has a knack of quickly identifying a problem – or potential problem – and offering solutions. His knowledge and use of both the Trackman Launch Monitor and Swing Catalyst Balance Plate is uncanny, but more impressive is his ability to make it simple and easy to understand for the average golfer. Don’t get me wrong, if you know and understand the intricacies of the data generated by these two teaching systems, Kyle is happy to discuss the minutia with you. He understands it all. Whether your golf game needs some fine tuning or a complete overhaul, Kyle and the competent staff of the Golf Performance Center can help get your golf game back on track.
There are several types of accommodations available at the Barnsley Resort. The Inn was inspired by a British architect named Edwin Lutyens, best known for designing English country homes. The Inn’s architecture compliments the pedestrian-friendly resort. Step into the lobby and you’ll find stained and hand-scraped hardwood floors, exposed beams and a grand staircase. Each night – weather permitting – you’ll find a fire going in the living room; the perfect place to gather with friends after a brisk stroll around the grounds. Outside, stop by any of the many firepits on the property and enjoy some S’mores.
Barnsley Resort also offers several cottages with diverse floor plans. Each unit is unique, with hardwood floors, wood-burning fireplaces and clawfoot bathtubs. Many cottages have two one-bedroom suites with a living room, bedroom with a king-size bed as well as porches to enjoy the view. There are six Manor Cottages with four bedrooms, porches and a shared living room, making them perfect for family gatherings. Estate Cottages are also very popular for family gatherings, weddings and business groups. Each cottage sleeps between 6 and 18 people and the majority have pantry-style kitchens with full-size refrigerators, ice makers and dining tables.
Guests of Barnsley Resort have their choice of three restaurants and with new Executive Chef Nicolas Lebas in charge of the menus, they are in for a treat. The recently renovated Woodlands Grill is a laid-back dining venue that overlooks the picturesque Fazio-designed golf course and the surrounding hills. Dugan’s, the bar at Woodlands Grill, is the perfect place to meet up with friends or catch your favorite team. The restaurant offers delicious meals and an extensive wine list, craft beers and premium liquors. The lunch menu includes unique and tasty appetizers and entrees such as Pimento Cheese Beignets, Deep-Fried Deviled Eggs, Grouper Sliders and a Brisket Philly sandwich.
The Rice House is located in a 19th century farmhouse and many of the ingredients used at the Rice House are locally sourced, including farm-grazed beef, locally foraged mushrooms and seasonal garden ingredients produced at the gardens on the property. Dinner at the Rice House is truly a garden-to-table experience. In fact, the back of the menu goes into detail on the various food purveyors. The menu here is curated on a weekly basis, focused exclusively on what’s in season from local farmers and purveyors from within a 150-mile radius of the resort, as well as what’s in its peak at the resort’s on-site garden. A sampling of Chef Nicolas’ creations now include a Buttermilk Fried Quail appetizer, a Brasstown Braised Short Rib and Grilled Atlantic Skate Wing.
Unlike most resorts, Barnsley Resort is pet-friendly and with more than 10 miles of hiking trails, outdoor sitting areas with fire pits, lawn games and outdoor dining, your four-legged friend will certainly feel like a pampered pooch. There is no limit on what Fido can weigh and crates are not required, but leashes are. Pet friendly accommodations include the Cottage Suites and Arbor Cottages and can be outfitted with their own suite of amenities: pet beds, bowls, bottled water and treats. Pet sitting can also be arranged if you find the need for some “alone” time! A portion of the $150 – $250 pet fee is donated directly to PAWS Atlanta, an organization which provides love, nutrition, medical care and basic training to enrich the lives of orphaned animals until new homes can be found.
Barnsley Resort is open year round and can be booked online at www.BarnsleyResort.com.