My Town: Harris English's Chattanooga
Quality and affordability are signatures of the sleepy Tennessee destination
A lot has happened to the former Georgia All-American since he graduated last spring. In July he won the Nationwide Tour stop in Columbus, Ohio, as an amateur, which helped him get a spot on the U.S. Walker Cup team. After turning pro in September, he nearly won a second Nationwide event before earning a PGA Tour card at Q school. In six starts as a rookie in 2012, he has yet to miss a cut, posting three top-20s.
PGA tour rookie Harris English has gotten to know Chattanooga because of his golf abilities. And although he now calls Sea Island, Ga., home, English retains ties to the city where he attended high school.
"There are so many great courses in Chattanooga," says English, 22, who grew up in Moultrie, Ga., but left for Chattanooga to attend Baylor School, where the golf team won four straight state titles and English won one individual state crown. "It's a place where you have a lot of choices, great variety, strong golf courses where you can really be tested."
Located about 120 miles northwest of Atlanta and abutting the Georgia border, Chattanooga is the fourth-largest city in the state, with the Tennessee River running through the downtown area. Forbes ranks it eighth out of America's 100 largest metro areas for affordability and "bang for your buck."
I played most of my high school golf at Black Creek Club, a private course in the foothills of Raccoon Mountain. The Nationwide Tour played there from 2007 until last year. It has the best greens in town.
It's hard to deny, though, that the best course in the area is The Honors Course, which is northeast of the city in the nearby town of Ooltewah. It has hosted a number of amateur events including the U.S. Amateur, the NCAA Championship and the Curtis Cup. You really find out where your game is pretty quickly when you play there. It kind of winds along and no two holes are really in the same direction. It's one of my favorite courses anywhere.
There are some other very good private courses, including Chattanooga G&CC and Council Fire, but if you want a public course option, try Bear Trace at Harrison Bay. It's a Jack Nicklaus design that I think is really underrated. We played some high school matches there. They have very good Bermuda greens that remind me of East Lake GC in Atlanta. It's a long course with a lot of water, hard but an excellent track.
WHERE TO STAY
Downtown Chattanooga is where you want to be, right along the river. They have all the hotel chains, but the coolest place is the Sheraton Read House Hotel. It's on the National Register of Historic Places. It's an old building filled with Georgian architecture. There are many interesting carved-wood doorways. It's a pretty unique place.
Hennen's, a steak house, is my favorite. It's about 200 yards from the river, so you have nice views, good atmosphere and the food is really good. Great steaks, but there are other things they also do well.
If you're looking for a casual spot, the Big River Grille and Brewing Works is another good downtown place. It's an excellent restaurant on its own, but it's also a nice place to watch a game. It has big TVs, pool tables, even shuffleboard. It's just a cool spot to hang out. Chattanooga Billiard Club is also a lot of fun with billiard tables. It's an upscale place with excellent atmosphere.
The Hamilton Place Mall is near down-town and is a nice place to shop if you're traveling with somebody who isn't playing golf. Across the river on the west side of town is Frazier Avenue, where there are cool little trendy specialty stores and restaurants. It's the artsy area of Chattanooga. Plenty to see within walking distance. ... If you have the kids with you, I would take them to the Creative Discovery Museum downtown. There are a lot of things to try and do. There's also the Tennessee Aquarium, which has an IMAX theater and a riverboat nature tour.