If you found room in your vehicle for a bag of clubs and some spikeless shoes, it’s important to have a summary at hand to make the best choice for your foursome (twosome or self) to have a beautiful day of par-knocking. Here’s a summary for those adults with skills surpassing last week’s mini-golf primer.
1. Gatlinburg Municipal Golf Course
, 520 Dollywood Lane, Pigeon Forge, 800-231-4128, golf.gatlinburg.com
Located about a half-mile from the main Parkway (Hwy 441) in Pigeon Forge, this facility is easily accessed both from the Parkway and from Veterans Boulevard.
The original course in this area, this William Langford-designed classic course opened in 1955 as Gatlinburg Country Club, but has always been located in Pigeon Forge city limits. The course was renovated in 1993, and again in 2007. Playing here is both picturesque and unique. It boasts plush fairways and bent grass greens, with not much water on the course, and plenty of natural growth. It is true mountain golf: lots of terrain changes make playing both highly challenging and quite unforgiving. Accuracy is paramount, particularly on the forest-lined fairways of the back nine. Hole 12 is the signature hole, named Sky-Hi, a deceptive par 3 where the tee box is cliffside, and the green about 200 feet below: club choice drama at its best!
Tips: Take time to absorb the extreme beauty of the surrounding countryside; it’s truly a gorgeous pleasure. Go prepared with insect repellant since gnats can be an issue, particularly with a wet summer season. This is a course you will want to play more than once, and have a few balls in the bag that you are willing to lose.
Located a block off Highway 66/Winfield Dunn Parkway, the clubhouse and part of the course can be seen from this main access artery into Sevierville, from exit 407 at Interstate 40.
This second municipal course originally opened as Eagles Landing in 1994, and was expanded to its current 36 holes with relocated clubhouse in 2009, making it both the newest and largest in the area. Along with a nice modern clubhouse, there is an excellent driving range, and good putting greens available. The course has Bermuda fairways, and shares its parking lot with the adjacent Wyndham Wilderness Resort.
The River Course is a relatively forgiving par 72 that offers ample water play around and over the Little Pigeon River. The Highlands Course par 70 is a links layout with more terrain change, and increased accuracy required.
Tip: Because of the course’s youth, there is not much shade with the lack of mature growth trees. Pretty course, but often very hot on sunny days. Don’t forget your hydration and sunscreen on this one.
Straddling the Sevier and Knox county line, this club can be accessed from both Highway 66 and from Interstate 40 at exit 402 (Midway Road), with a short drive.
Completed in 1991, this course was designed by Arthur Hills as a links-style 18 holes. The layout is scenic and spectacularly beautiful. Though the views are mountainous, the course itself is relatively flat. Please note that it is also quite wet and formidable, maybe even humbling? This par 72 has Zoysia fairways and Bermuda greens, with a challenging and interesting layout. 5 holes are located on islands in the French Broad River, with signature holes actually crossing the river channel (forced carries, anyone?). 9 holes cannot be easily played here, since the ninth hole is out with a turn shack and does not return to the clubhouse. Lovely and fun for the less-than-serious, it’s also a worthy opponent to those intent on conquering its threats.
Tips: Don’t be deceived by the par 3’s, even they can be tougher than you might expect. Deals on fees can be found on golfnow.com
4. Bent Creek Golf Village
, 3919 East Parkway, Gatlinburg, 865-436-3947, bentcreekgolf.com
Located about 10 miles out of Gatlinburg, on Highway 321. Its location is relatively remote unless staying in the Gatlinburg area.
Opened in 1972, this par 72 course was designed by Gary Player, with bent grass greens and views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It shares grounds with the Diamond Resorts Timeshare community which now surrounds it. Its front nine is scenic on the valley floor, and the back nine is among the hillsides, with creek water running throughout. The course is both panoramic and pleasant, but not for duffers. Precision and accuracy are needed throughout (or at least a good quantity of balls to lose).
Tip: Insect repellant is an absolute must on this course.
Located off Boyd’s Creek Highway, the course is accessible from both Winfield Dunn Parkway/Highway 66 and Chapman Highway 441. Seymour is about 20 minutes from Sevierville.
This Par 35, 9-hole course was completed in 2000. The course is pretty and pleasant with bent grass greens, and bills itself as “great golf in half the time”. Its main challenge is water on over half the holes, hence the name. Both straight and creative holes are included, with various levels of challenge that can also be achieved from using different tees. Great for a quick game, if you don’t have the luxury of time for a full round.
Hopefully my thumbnail summary of courses in our area is helpful in choosing a golf location, while enjoying your vacation in one of our Wears Valley cabins
. There is plenty to appreciate for all skill levels. Have a ball, and hit them straight!