The Luring Qualities of Reynolds on Lake Oconee
By Scott Kauffman
As a Chicago-area commercial real estate broker, Tunnicliff certainly knew a thing or two about real estate and he was immediately smitten with the southern community conveniently situated between Atlanta and Augusta. With plans to one day retire in a part of the country where he could still enjoy the four seasons and rolling hills, Tunnicliff thought Reynolds Plantation was the perfect place to stake his claim.
Returning home to Chicago, Tom shared his plan with wife Mary, who thought the retirement idea was a bit premature. Keep in mind the couple was in their mid-30s at the time and starting a family with two kids, ages 2 and 4.
“No. 1 we don’t have any money for it,” Mary Tunnicliff says with a smile, recalling the conversation going at the time. “And No. 2 there’s nothing there. Remember, this was back in 1992 when Reynolds Plantation was just starting out. But Tom said, ‘You just won’t believe this place. It’s incredible.’
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“At the time, we hadn’t really discovered life at Lake Oconee. So I thought if you’re not golfers, I just don’t see it. But I went down a couple times and realized, ‘He’s right; this is just God’s country.’”
After watching Reynolds Plantation continue to develop and steadily grow into one of the most celebrated lakefront golf and resort communities in the country, the Tunnicliff family finally made the plunge and purchased a golf view homesite and membership in 1999.
Initially, the avid golfers would come down for long weekends, enjoying the Lake Oconee setting by renting homes in the community. Six years later, the Tunnicliffs were tantalized once again by the development when Tom spotted a must-have resale home during another golf trip in 2005.
The home was owned by a family from England and practically brand new. It was a fully-furnished, turn-key golf cottage on the brand new Tom Fazio-designed National Course. Tom saw the smaller second home as a great way to ease into his dream retirement. Mary, on the other hand, wasn’t convinced seeing that they already owned a homesite.
“I told him, ‘We’re building a new home in Illinois, are you crazy?” Mary says with another smile. “You’re yelling at me for keeping the copper gutters and staying under budget, and you want to buy another home. Well, I toured it and we ended up buying.”
So the family stepped up the Reynolds Plantation property ladder once more. Again, Reynolds Plantation has a way of pulling people in – and sometimes up on the property scale like the Tunnicliffs – thanks to an array of compelling amenities and 374 miles of picturesque Lake Oconee shoreline.
One reason Reynolds Plantation is so successful in attracting people of various backgrounds, demographics and stages in their lives is due to the wide-ranging real estate options offered.
For instance, folks interested in literally just putting a stake in the ground as a placeholder for the future can purchase homesites from the $40,000s to more than $1 million. Meanwhile, low-maintenance turn-key cottages, villas and condos, which make for excellent second homes or retirement properties, are attractively priced from approximately $200,000-$750,000.
Then, for full-time residents making Reynolds Plantation their permanent residence or families seeking larger second homes to entertain their growing brood of children and grandchildren, a variety of single-family residences are available from the $300,000s to more than 4 million.
Some of the popular newer homes being developed are the Cottage and Villa homes being built at the Landing, Reynolds Plantation’s original Bob Cupp-designed course that opened in 1986. The Landing Cottage Collection are terrific second-home or a lower to mid-price options for full-time residences. The larger Landing Villas, priced from the $400,000s to around$600,000, are approximately 2,200-2,500 square feet and offer great views of the 10th and 18th holes.
Another exciting new residential offering are two showcase model homes located on the fifth fairway of the private Creek Club golf course. Positioned atop a wooded hillside overlooking the tees and popular split fairway of the Jim Engh-designed layout, these Reynolds Plantation Signature Homes are a study of timeless design and contemporary features.
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The first model, built by preferred builder Camden Homes, greets visitors with classic dormers, traditional lap siding and tasteful stone accents. A natural wood pergola spans the twin garage doors, mirroring the hearty columns that frame the clean and inviting entryway. Inside the 3,700-square-foot, 4-bedroom, 4 ½-bathroom residence, the home appears intimate in scale yet projects an open, airy feeling with vertical lines, elevated ceilings, eight-foot interior doors and clerestory windows that flood the main living space with light.
Next door, a somewhat larger 4-bedroom, 4 1/2-bath home built by Jones and Jones Premier Builders, has an equally attractive front elevation that is highlighted by pronounced rooflines, shake siding accents and more traditional columns flanking the double front doors. The heart of this home is a stunning great room with soaring ceilings and large windows that perfectly frame the gorgeous green fairways.
Custom homes like these are what inspired the Tunnicliffs to build their next dream property at Reynolds Plantation. Indeed, 10 years after purchasing their golf cottage and graduating their two children from college (including a daughter from nearby University of Georgia), the Tunnicliffs are working on their third property at Reynolds Plantation – this time located directly on the lake.
“Everything here is just beyond amazing” says Mary Tunnicliff. “As a golfer, I’m in Mecca. It’s just a golf heaven. And now that I’m 56 and Tom’s 57, we’re fighting the age battle mentally! And this place with all the activities and lifestyle it offers, I’ve never met younger people in my life. A lot of them are retired and might be in their 60s or 70s, but you’d think they’re in their 30s or 40s.
“You meet people all the time and just say, ‘I want to be like that!’ I’ve made such wonderful friends at Reynolds Plantation. When I’m here, I literally feel like I’m on vacation every day.”
Scott is the foremost expert on golf course real estate and resort-style living worldwide. The licensed Florida real estate broker has published hundreds of articles in a variety of national golf, travel and lifestyle publications and been quoted by USA Today, Smart Money magazine, San Jose Mercury News and CNN. Kauffman is also one of the founding partners of Golf Media Network, the parent company of The A Position.