Nestled in the scenic shadows of the Smoky Mountains, Bent Creek Golf Course's 18-hole layout stretches across 6,182 yards of fairways that rise and fall among rolling foothills and pristine valleys. Golf legend and course designer Gary Player made deft use of a babbling mountain stream by running it through the course and seamlessly uniting two distinct nines: a front nine that sprawls across the valley floor and a back nine that roams the hilly mountainside like a forlorn sasquatch. The overall effect is a course that does justice to both the sheer scope of the rising peaks with bottom-up views and the panoramic splendor of Great Smoky Mountains National Park when seen from the cresting hilltops of the back-nine. The inventive layout is perhaps best characterized by the 11th hole, a 362-yard par 4 where a 90-degree dogleg-left plays into a green completely surrounded by the creek's rippling waters. A blend of bent and bermuda grasses grows resiliently for golfers striving to play all year-round, and fragrant wildflowers blossom at every tee to warm the hearts of world-weary nine-irons.
Bent Creek bolsters the pin-hunting prowess of its golfers with a staff of PGA-certified instructors that conducts lessons and presides over the domain of their full-service pro shop. A practice putting green helps players trim their score by reading dicey slopes, and the Creek Side Grill hosts postround revelry and community gatherings to decry the historical hardships of the mashie niblick.:m]]
Course at a Glance:
At the tee box on Cimarrone Golf Club's 12th hole, golfers face a dilemma: play a drive safely out to the right—where, at worst, the ball may stray into the rough—or attempt an aggressive shot over the water on the hole's left side, cutting off much of the dogleg and setting up a closer approach. With multiple bending fairways, deep bunkers, and a water hazard or marsh feature on every hole, the 18-hole, 6,891-yard course presents high-risk, high-reward scenarios at nearly every turn, delighting golfers who like to live dangerously and favoring those whose sand wedge moonlights as an actuary.
Before rounds, golfers can warm up swings at the club's driving range, a much-needed confidence booster before taking to the water-laden course or betting that they can outdrive the staff's resident T-shirt cannon.
Course at a Glance:
The golfing gurus at Edwin Watts Golf Academy diagnose and correct their students' poor swing and putting habits in an effort to help them improve their shots and lower their scores. In one-on-one swing-analysis sessions, students learn a repeatable swing that eliminates tendencies they may have to slice, hook, push, or pull the ball. A special laser attaches to the end of the player's club and tracks the swing path while JC Video swing-analysis software records the session from two separate angles, lest analysis be thrown off by only looking at the golfer's good side. Putting analysis employs Tomi technology to measure eight separate parameters of the putting stroke, from clubhead orientation at address to swing path and tempo. After swing and putting lessons, students may access the recordings on a password-protected website, so they can forward videos to friends or sports-documentary filmmakers.
Placed in the top 10 among the nation's new golf courses by Golfweek and Travel + Leisure Golf, Sugarloaf Mountain sends golfers up and down elevation changes of more than 250 feet. The design by Coore & Crenshaw—Crenshaw, as in 1984 Masters winner Ben Crenshaw—takes advantage of the site's natural characteristics, wandering through verdant oak forests and at one point reaching the highest point in the state. The designers were so loyal to the landscape that they even decided to use native sand in the bunkers rather than trucking in moon dust.
Course at a Glance:
ExecGolf Membership cards allow golfers to pass untouched through the doors of dozens of participating private courses at discounted prices. A membership card allows players two $25 rounds of golf at each of more than 20 participating courses, one of which must be redeemed before October 31, 2011. This per-round price includes cart rental, green fees, and the opportunity to engage in medieval cart jousting. Golfers can play unlimited rounds for a members-only rate at favorite courses or preview private courses such as Grand Cypress Resort, or historic Rio Pinar Country Club, which hosts 17 PGA and LPGA championships.
Carved from 1,000 acres of native forests and surrounding wetlands, the spectacular par 72 course at Queen’s Harbour enchants sportsmen and nature lovers alike with fairways flanked by intercoastal waterways. Pairs of golfers putt, chip, and drive their way through 7,017 yards of scenic playing grounds designed by pro-player, acclaimed architect, and stunning polo-shirt model Mark McCumber, as Southern breezes sweep through Spanish moss on century-old oak trees. Masterfully avoid stepping on cracks that break mothers' backs by rolling over them (mothers, that is) in the included golf cart before stepping into the clubhouse postgame to relax amid airy verandas overlooking the picturesque freshwater marina. Designed to provide a challenge to players of varying skill levels, Queen’s Harbour welcomes guests to spoil their walk on a course that has hosted such prestigious tournaments as the PGA Tour Qualifier and the Mercedes Collegiate Championships. Grab today’s Groupon to spend a leisurely day with a like-minded link lover, or share it with a stranger with a remarkably similar appreciation for fresh air.