Top Ten Public/Semi-Private Courses in Tennessee
We have spent a lot of time playing golf in Tennessee, and through our travels have found some great golf available in Tennessee. Here is our ranking for public or semi-private golf courses in Tennessee:
- Toqua Golf Course – Blessed with a great location, golfers can expect to use every club in their bag at Toqua. Front nine features some tight holes that you may want to stick with an iron off the tee, while back nine has some of the best views of the lake on holes 14 and 15. There isn’t a lot of undulation on the greens, but challenging approach shots provide enough difficulty making this our no. 1 course in Tennessee. Toqua can be lengthy from the tips with par 4s such as hole number 9 that will require you to make a great drive off the tee to have a chance to make the green in 2 shots. Hole number 3 par 3 from the tips reaches over 200 yards over a portion of the lake to a large green that can be hard to par if the flag is in the back right of the green.
- Sevierville Golf Club River Course – Sevierville now has 36 golf holes, and while their has been some changes to the course, we only see a unique course that presents golfers with challenges on every hole from tee to green. Adequately named, the River Course features water on 80% of its holes with elevated greens that fall off sharply to the water. Holes 3 through 5 are located on an island in the middle of the river, and many shots require accurate iron play across hazards. Holes 11 through 14 are similar to its sister Highlands Course, where hole 13 is a 185 yard shot to a drop-down green that can be difficult to hold if the flag is in the front.
- Heatherhurst Brae – One of the most intimidating starting holes with an approach shot over water to a green half-way surrounded by water. Heatherhurst is unique with Zoysia grass that is a pleasure to hit off and long par 3s that can play long even from the white tees. This course has it all from elevation changes with beautiful mountain scenery to water feature holes such as the long par 5 number 10 hole. Heatherhurst is impressive from start to finish with challenging greens, beautiful fairways, and great views of the Cumberland Plateau.
- River Islands Golf Club – Probably the most unique golf courses in Tennessee. Hole number 3 is a par 3 intimidating hole that has golfers hitting diagonally to a green across one of the 3 forks in the French Broad River. At this point you are on one of the islands in the river and don’t hit the mainland again til the 17th hole. Similar to Heatherhurst, River Islands has carpet-like fairways with Zoysia grass that are great to hit off, but be prepared because you need to hit well from tee to green to score well on this course. River Islands is a true links-style course that starts and ends at the clubhouse with some small greens that can be challenging to stick on your approach shot. This course is a definite must if visiting the Knoxville – Pigeon Forge area in Tennessee.
- Rarity Pointe Golf Course – In our opinion one of the toughest courses in Tennessee with dramatic elevation changes on several holes such as hole no. 2 par 4. The par 5 hole number 3 features elevated tee boxes that will have you driving out to a multi-tiered fairway with a lot of undulation. Rarity also has several long par 3s that are guarded by sand traps with beautifully contoured greens. The course is always in great shape and fairways are forgiving yet require great long iron play.
- Hermitage Golf Course President’s Reserve – Hermitage President’s Reserve offers challenge to all levels of golfers with holes that rest near Cumberland River and natural wetlands. One of the best golf courses in Nashville, President’s Reserve has a tremendous layout that will have you using all your clubs in the bag during the round. Recognized as one of the top 10 golf courses in Tennessee by Golf Digest.
- Bear Trace at Harrison Bay – One of the best tracks of land we have ever seen. Chickamauga Lake runs along the course allowing 12 holes to touch the water. Bear Trace has some heavily wooded areas, and even though the water can be seen from many of the holes, it really doesn’t come into play on many holes. Terrific views and great conditions will find you coming back here for many rounds.
- Kahite Golf Course – Links-style course with a unique par 6 on hole number 9. Fairly open course but can provide some challenge with its length from the tips as well as elevated greens that are well-guarded with 90 bunkers across the course. Kahite is always in great shape, tee boxes are perfect, and one of the best layouts you will find in East Tennessee.
- Cattails Golf Course – Lying in the shadows of scenic Bays Mountain, Cattails’ gently rolling terrain and memorable design has a wide variety of holes that include a moderate number of sand bunkers, six beautiful lakes and large putting surfaces. The par 71 golf course offers several risk-reward par 5s on the back nine, and boasts many picturesque holes that will challenge all levels of golfers. The course name is appropriate given the number cattail plants that reside along several holes with water on both the front and back nine.
- Gaylord Springs Golf Course – Gaylord Springs is a par 72 Scottish links course lining the Cumberland River with scenic bluffs carved from limestone. This is a challenging course that has hosted Champions Tour events and received many accolades for a superior quality course. The signature hole for the course is hole 4 that houses a century-old spring house, and there is plenty of challenge with water on several of its holes. Tree-lined fairways and risk-reward holes will offer enjoyable play at this 220 acre venue.
In order to complete our list we weighted golf course layout 70% and conditions 30% to rank each golf course.