View of the Clubhouse at Valhall Golf Resort with its reflection in the water in front.

Vahalla Golf Resort clubhouse.

The Georgia mountains around the Alpine Village of Helen will once again come alive with the sounds of powerfully hit golf balls and the awakening of spring! This colorful season in the mountains kicks off with the 20th Annual Darrel Chaney Invitational Golf Tournament on April 11-12, 2022 benefitting United Way of White County. Our host hotel will be the Holiday Inn Express & Suites and the Helen Convention Center with the golf event at Valhalla Golf Club at Valhalla Resort in Helen.

Over the years, this event has grossed well over $1 million and provided funds for thousands of needy people in White County. Celebrities in the past have been former players from Atlanta teams including the Braves, Falcons and Hawks along with soccer, hockey, and tennis players. Other participants include former Olympians, race car drivers, and TV and radio personalities. Many of the celebrities are in their respective Halls of Fame.

The event sells out each year so, if you would like to be a sponsor or enter a team you’ll need to act fast. Many of the sponsors have been involved for the last 19 years! For more info about becoming a sponsor, call (706) 348-7067.

Young man holding a tray of food from the Troll Tavern

A typical food tray from the Troll Tavern.

One of the sponsors is Troll Tavern (706-878-3117) which is located right on the Chattahoochee River, under the main bridge in the middle of Helen. They offer patio seating, bar seating, large indoor dining room with plenty of TVs. They can take reservations for parties of 18 or more, offer vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free options, are handicap accessible with parking available directly behind it. Staff is awesome, the food is always fresh and, and in my opinion, this is the best place to eat in Helen.

My first memories of Helen were fishing the Chattahoochee River in an almost abandoned village with one run-down motel. It has had a miraculous rebirth into what is now similar to a setting from the movie “The Sound of Music.”

Helen’s transformation began without much fanfare or any federal or state handouts. Quite simply, the Alpine Village idea began when several local businessmen gathered at a riverside restaurant, looked out a window, and saw their bleak hometown with its dull, dreary row of block structures. During that fateful luncheon, it was decided that something should be done to attract the tourists on their way to the lakes and national forest recreation areas in the Northeast Georgia Mountains.

People eating meal on balcony overlooking the Chattahoochee River

People enjoying the Chattahoochee River in Helen.

Today the businesses of Helen employ more people than most mills in a tiny Alpine village with a public park, flowers everywhere, fountains, quaint street lights and freshly painted store fronts. It’s also a rarity to find a village where one can easily park a car in the business section and go trout fishing or simply float on a tube in a gorgeous river meandering through a picturesque village that appears to have been transplanted from another time and place.

Visitors returning to Helen and White County for the first time in a few years could never envision how these picturesque mountains and valleys have exploded with fine wineries and flourishing businesses. If you haven’t visited Helen in a while, many fantastic and interesting changes have been made, and during the week of the 20th Annual Darrel Chaney Invitational Golf Tournament is a great time to come to this active and picturesque area and possibly interact with many celebrities!

Photos: by Bill Vanderford