U.S. Open

Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course No. 2)



Lookout Mountain Club

Lookout Mountain, GA, United States Private

Overview

For decades, Lookout Mountain Club was viewed by architecture buffs and historians as one of the country’s great renovation opportunities. Seth Raynor laid out the course in 1925 on a high, tilting property near Lookout Mountain’s northeastern flank, just outside of Chattanooga. Raynor, who came into the profession over a decade earlier as a surveyor and construction specialist helping celebrated architect C.B. Macdonald build courses like National Golf Links of America, Piping Rock and the extinct Lido Club, had by this time become one of the most active and sought-after designers in the United States. At each of his commissions, including Lookout Mountain, he used variations of the “ideal holes” Macdonald first developed at NGLA (based on original holes from the U.K.), including the Redan, Eden, Road Hole, Alps, etc.

These Raynor/Macdonald hole templates have always been present at Lookout Mountain, though few golfers would have recognized them. The course was never finished to Raynor’s plans or standards because he died in 1926 before construction began, and budget constraints and the difficulty of building on the mountain’s solid granite prevented his associate Charles Banks from executing the details. At the time, it was believed to be the second-most expensive golf course ever built, after Yale, another Raynor/Macdonald design.

The subsequent years were no kinder. The club never had the resources to properly invest in preserving the Raynor architecture that did get built, and over the decades the greens shrunk, the bunkers dulled and tree-planting crowded the holes. Despite the memorable elevated setting, Lookout Mountain resembled a Raynor course only in glancing angles, a great “what if” considering that the architect's best-preserved work includes four courses—Fishers Island, Chicago Golf Club, Camargo and Shoreacres—in Golf Digest’s top 50.

Fortunes changed in 2022 when the club at last garnered the resources to produce the course Raynor envisioned. Working hole by hole, architects Tyler Rae and Kyle Franz, with significant help from designer Benjamin Warren, used the club’s course map that Raynor had drawn to fully implement the template holes in ways that better match the enormous scale of a site possessing views that stretch dozens of miles in several directions. All greens were cored out and rebuilt and the bunkers were either returned to intended positions or reproduce in accordance with the course map.

Since the map sketches lacked specific detail, especially concerning green contours, Rae and Franz used their extensive experience working on and researching other Raynor courses to draw inspiration for certain holes. Many, like the Redan 13th, Road 15th, the Double Plateau 17th or Maiden 18th would be fits at many Raynor properties while others like the Sahara third, Dustpan fifth and Lido 14th must be considered originals, expressively so. But it all adds up for a thrilling expression of Macdonald/Raynor architecture on one of the most unique, breathtaking sites Raynor ever worked. The result of Rae and Franz’s restorative efforts won Lookout Mountain Golf Digest’s Best Renovation award for 2023.

About

Holes 18
Length 6701
Slope 129
Facility Type Private
Year Opened 1925
Designer Seth Raynor/Tyler Rae & Kyle Franze

Awards

Best Courses in Every State

Best in State: Ranked 19th, 2021-'22.

Current ranking: 12th.

Golf Digest Logo Panelists

Ratings from our panel of 1,900 course-ranking panelists

4.5

100 GREATEST/BEST IN STATE SCORES

Shot Options
7.0168
Character
7.0142
Challenge
6.8309
Layout Variety
7.1719
Fun
7.1961
Aesthetics
7.1749
Conditioning
6.8231

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