Links, Legends and Local Lore
As much as I love summertime on the Florida links, every once in a while I dream of waking up and playing golf in 70 degree weather, surrounded by oaks and maples, and creeks that spill into waterfalls that follow fairways down hills to valleys.
That is when it is time to head to the Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee. In and around Asheville, N.C., great golf courses can be found in every price range and designed around the mountain terrain. Here’s a look at a few:
Asheville Municipal Golf Course
One of the oldest golf courses in Western North Carolina, this 18-hole golf course was designed by legendary golf architect Donald Ross and opened for play in 1927.
While the front nine is a flat open layout, the back nine is a tight dance through the woods. Elevation changes add excitement and the greens throughout the entire par-72 layout are firm and fast.
Asheville Muni is a great value and serious students of Ross designs will appreciate the distinctive touches throughout the layout. The course also has a local connection in that it is managed by Pope Golf of Sarasota. Sign up for their e-mail blasts at www.PopeGolf.net for advance notices of tee time specials.
Sequoyah National Golf Club
The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians commissioned Robert Trent Jones, II along with Native American golf pro Notah Begay III to design this course against the spectacular backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Managed by Troon Golf, in 2009 it was named by Golf Magazine, as the No. 2 “Best New Golf Course You Can Play” and in 2013 as one of the “Must-Play Golf Courses in North Carolina.”
The course is not timid. It starts with a 200-foot climb between the second green and third tee box. Dramatic elevation changes can be experienced on nearly every hole, and the highest point of the course, No. 15 at 2400 feet, offers views of Clingman’s Dome of the Snowbird Mountain range and the historic Thomas Valley.
Each tee box features a a plaque with a story of Cherokee history or lore and there is even a cemetary dating to 1884 of original settlers preserved under a majestic tree between the 10th and 12 holes.
Cherokee is about an hour drive from Asheville and also is home to a Harrah’s Casino if you are looking for some off course action.
Stay and Play packages are available at several hotels from the budget-friendly to the luxurious starting at $100 per person per night based on double occupancy and includes complimentary continental breakfast at the hotel and one round of golf per person. Visit www.sequoyahnational.com or call 828-497-3000 for rates and information.
Sevierville Golf Club
If you find yourself in Pigeon Forge, TN, and seek a quiet respite from the carnival that surrounds Dollywood and the theme parks, the Sevierville Golf Club is the place to be. Two 18-hole championship courses are tucked away in a peaceful setting.
The Highlands is a par 70 that winds through lush rolling hills and fresh water mountain ponds. The River is a par 72 that plays along and across the Little Pigeon River. Both courses open in 2011.
“Summer and Fall is a great time of year to golf the Smoky Mountains,” says Sevierville Golf Club Director Of Golf Mark Wallace. “Our courses are among the best in the area, and we wanted to offer an affordable package rate at a time when golfers would really enjoy great golf, beautiful scenery and spectacular courses available in the Smoky Mountains.”
Sevierville’s Summer and Fall Golf Packages allow traveling golfers to choose from several luxurious hotels and cabins within the Smoky Mountains and an option to play one or both courses at the Sevierville Golf Club. Packages include: Eighteen holes with cart, special same day replay rates and free club storage.
For more information and to book a package call 1-888-710-1388 or visit www.seviervillegolfclub.com
Asheville is just a little more than an hour and a half flight from the St. Petersburg/Clearwater airport. Allegiant flies there several times a week in the summer and fall. If you book well in advance, you can get round trip tickets for less than $100. Send us a postcard!