The Subtle Differences Between Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair Property

Many prospective home buyers look at Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair when looking for lakefront property.

This begs the questions, Why is Lake Oconee more expensive than Lake Sinclair, and what is unique about each one?

For starters, Lake Sinclair has a more residential vibe. Lake Oconee has a lake resort feel.

But what about specific differences? Here’s what you need to know.

Location

Lake Oconee is roughly 70 miles from Atlanta, making it more desirable for many buyers from the Atlanta Metro.

Lake Sinclair is around 90 miles from Atlanta.

Twenty miles may not seem like much, but Lake Oconee is much more developed than many parts of lake Sinclair outside of Milledgeville. The northern parts of Lake Sinclair are very rural. In many cases, you’ll need to take winding roads to reach your destination, adding time to your drive.

On the flip side, Lake Sinclair extends much further south. It’s been our experience that buyers coming from Macon, Savannah, and other parts of Georgia and Florida may end up preferring the location of Lake Sinclair due to distance.

Lot Types

The most significant difference between Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair lot types is no-one owns property up to the water on Lake Oconee. Around the lake, there are yellow markers that denote the boundary to where Georgia power owns the lake. Each year, Georgia Power charges a nominal $100 fee to access the lake.

All Lake Oconee lots are fee simple up to those mentioned Georgia Power boundaries.

It’s important to know you must contact Georgia Power before making any changes to the land passed these yellow markers, such as removing trees or building a dock. Our skilled agents will help you navigate this with ease to ensure you’re working within the guidelines.

Lake Sinclair has over 6000 lots that are full fee simple, meaning you own property to the seawall. Roughly 15,000 lots on Lake Sinclair have some type of lease access based on a 340 contour line. Depending on the lease lot, there may be a transfer fee and an annual payment required for access to the lake. In either case, the expert agents at Kim and Lin Logan Real Estate are well versed in the specifics of each lake. They will help you navigate each type of property as needed.

Nearby Towns and Communities

Lake Oconee is 12 miles from Eatonton, GA, in Putnam county.

Lake Oconee is 13.5 miles from Greensboro, Ga, in Greene county.

Lake Oconee is 23 miles from historic Madison, Ga, in Morgan County.

None of these towns sit directly on the lake, but the surrounding lakefront communities and development on highway 44 have grown the infrastructure on Lake Oconee. In the heart of Lake Oconee, you’ll find the Lake Oconee Village, which brings Publix along with many restaurants, small shops, and a movie theatre to the Lake Oconee area.

Lake Sinclair is surrounded by three counties: Baldwin, Hancock, and Putnam, with the closest city being the college town of Milledgeville. Milledgeville has a population of over 18,000 and served as the state capital of Georgia from 1804 to 1868, notably during the American Civil War. The metropolitan area of Milledgeville has a population of 54,776. Milledgeville is much more of a city than you’ll find at Lake Oconee, so there are more restaurants, shopping, and the like than in Lake Oconee.

Lake Sinclair has a more established city in the lake area but also extremely rural areas on the eastern part of Lake Sinclair.

Lake Oconee is a bit more uniform throughout and has a vacation getaway feel without relatively larger towns or cities.

Water, Docks, And Boathouses

Georgia Power owns both Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair, and water levels are controlled by the Wallace Dam. This leads to stable water levels year-round, even in the case of drought. You will get some lower water levels in extreme drought, but not in comparison to many other Georgia lakes.

If you are buying property on either Lake Oconee or Lake Sinclair, you need at least 100 feet of private frontage to have a max dock. A max dock is the most desirable dock as it allows for multiple boat lifts to protect your boat.

But there is an important differentiator between the two lakes: You can not have a boathouse on Lake Oconee whereas Boat houses are everywhere on Lake Sinclair. For many, having the boathouse adds a lake getaway touch and an aesthetically pleasing option to protect your boat and experience lake life.

Golf

Lake Oconee is a golfers paradise. The world-class golf and the surrounding communities of the Lake Oconee golf courses is a huge differentiator between Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair. Lake Oconee is well known for its golf and upscale golfing communities like Cuscowilla, Harbor Club, and Reynolds.

Cuscowilla is home to a highly acclaimed course designed by two-time Masters winner Ben Crenshaw and architect Bill Coore. Cuscowilla ranks as the #3 Golf Courses in the state of Georgia, according to the top 100 Golf Courses.

This well-groomed location is challenging for players at all levels. It is designed to play into the natural beauty of the property. This private course is now offering a select number of non-resident golf memberships. Learn more about playing golf at Cuscowilla by visiting 126 Cuscowilla Dr, Eatonton, GA 31024.

HARBOR CLUB, Lake Oconee

Harbor Club sought the expertise of Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish when designing their course, which opened in 1991. For the past 25 years, The Harbor Club on Lake Oconee golf course has earned a prestigious reputation and won many awards. This challenging yet enjoyable design has received multiple awards by Golf Digest for the past three years and ranks 4.5 of 5 stars on its “Best Places to Play” list. The Harbor Club Course was recently ranked fourth on Golfweek’sGolfweek’s 2017 State-by-State Best Courses You Can Play in the State of Georgia. Play at The Harbor Club, located at 1111 Polo Circle · Greensboro, Georgia 30642.

Reynolds, Lake Oconee

Reynolds currently offers six courses for play, designed by five of the most talented architects in the world. From Bob Cupp’s “The Landing” and “The Preserve,” to Jim Engh’sEngh’s Scottish-inspired “Creek Club” and Jack Nicklaus’ course at Great Waters with its stunning lake views along every hole on the back nine, each location provides a distinctive experience in this private, unique retreat.

The six Reynolds Lake Oconee courses are:

The Landing opened in 1986 originally as Port Armor Golf Club, designed by Robert E. Cupp. The Landing golf course offers 7,048 yards of golf across an 18 hole championship course. This was the first golf course built on Lake Oconee and remains a top choice of Golfers from around the country, Visit The Landing Course at 1104 Landing Drive Greensboro, GA, 30642.

Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair

The Preserve Course is also a Robert E. Cupp design and is located in Reynolds Plantation. The Preserve golf course was the first course at Reynolds and was established in 1988. In 2016, The course underwent extensive renovations from tee to green. Renovations also included a new “Quick-Six” unique flexible course. Play at the Preserve, located at 1091 Clubhouse Drive Greensboro, GA, 30642.

The Great Waters Course, designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus, opened in 1992. The golf course spans across natural rolling hills and along miles of lake shoreline. Nicklaus renovated the course in 2010 and again in 2019.

The Oconee Course was designed by Rees Jones and has provided an idyllic Lakefront setting for golfers since 2002. The Oconee course is a par-72 course that plays to a maximum of 7,029 yards. Play at The Oconee Course, located at 1031 Cottage Cove Greensboro, GA 30642. The pro shop is within walking distance from The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee.

The National Course is a 27-hole course designed by Tom Fazio. The National offers three nine-hole layouts, The Ridge, Bluff, and Cove, and are all 36-par courses. The National Course was completed in 2000 and recently renovated in 2014. Each of The National nines describes the land and surrounding views along Lake Oconee and the Oconee River Valley. Play at The National Course, located at 1130 National Drive Greensboro, GA 30642.

The Creek Club is a member-only golf course. Designed by Jim Engh, The Creek Club is the newest course in Reynolds, which opened in 2007.

The Club at Lake Sinclair is a great golf course.

The Club at Lake Sinclair has over 50 great years of tradition filled with lots of change and growth. Older than any of the Lake Oconee Courses, the Club at Lake Sinclair continues to grow, adapt, and offer great amenities.

If you love golf, Lake Oconee is the better option for you. If you’re not interested in golf or rarely play, you might be more inclined to search the Lake Sinclair area.

Hotels, Amenities, and Activities

The biggest difference between Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair resides in golf (as mentioned above), hotels, communities, and amenities.

Lake Oconee brings luxurious communities with tons of amenities, from fitness centers and community events to golf and fine dining. You’ll find world-class dining, hotels, spa services, and events set against the rustic backdrop of Lake Oconee. Lake Oconee also sports 9 marinas with one more on the way and a dozen or so restaurants reachable by boat. If you’re looking to indulge, I recommend the BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos from Gaby’s.

Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair
Check out the wine room at 2010 Hixons Bluff

Lake Sinclair does not sport resorts, high-end hotels, spas, or fine dining directly on the lake as Lake Oconee does. That said, Lake Sinclair does bring four incredible Marinas and the Grill at Crooked Creek Marina: an excellent spot for a beer, burger, or shrimp Po-Bo.

Fishing On Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair

Both Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair are known for their fishing, bass in particular. Both Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair hold dozens of fishing tournaments, often battling for the second or third most fishing tournaments in the entire state.

Lake Sinclair has always had a 12-inch size limit on bass, but at Oconee, there is a slot limit from 11 to 14 inches, meaning you can keep bass over or under that length. Slot limits were implemented to keep down the population of small bass.

Both lakes have a ten bass daily possession limit, according to local expert Ronnie Garrison.

Lake Sinclair is known for consistent fish populations rather than record-breaking size; the lake record largemouth bass weighed more than 13 pounds. Anglers can expect good action from 1- to 2-pound bass, though. Crappies are also popular with Sinclair anglers and provide better-than-average harvests.

 

Costs and Price

Lake Oconee is more expensive than Lake Sinclair, particularly waterfront property. The golf course communities and world-class amenities are the primary differentiators of the areas.

Lake Oconee has more uniformity when it comes to real estate, meaning homes of similar value will be placed together. This stems from community standards and regulations and other areas on the Lake following suit. Uniform housing values beneficial in terms of strategic negotiation, market analysis, and assessing long term values.

Conversely, Lake Sinclair has more variability. You’ll get more property for your money, but you won’t have as many amenities or prestigious communities.

In some cases, you’ll find a $600,000 waterfront home next to a trailer or more run-down piece of property simply because there aren’t as many communities with covenants. While not having restrictive covenants does give you more flexibility to do as you please, it does allow the same flexibility to everyone else.

In either case, it’s hard to go wrong in either community—both Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair sport growing communities with plenty of room for recreation and outdoor activities. As with most things, finding the best fit for you will come down to your budget, preferred location, and the activities you’ll be enjoying when at your Lake Oconee or Lake Sinclair home.

Common Questions:

Are Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair connected? 

No, they are separated by the Wallace Dam.

Is Lake Oconee or Lake Sinclair bigger?

Lake Sinclair has 417 miles of shoreline and covers 15,330 acres. Lake Oconee has 374 miles of shoreline but covers 19,000 acres.

Is drought an issue at either Lake?

No, not compared to other lakes in the state of Georgia. The Wallace Dam controls water levels. Conducted as a pump-back operation, water is released through the Dam from Lake Oconee into Lake Sinclair during times of peak electrical demand. Conversely, Wallace Dam turbines are reversed at times of low demand and pump water from Lake Sinclair back into Lake Oconee. This means the current can flow either way in Sinclair, depending on the operation of Wallace Dam.

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