PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club



Best in State

The best golf courses in Tennessee

The top-10 best golf courses in Tennessee is indicative of the refreshing mix of great golf you’ll find in the state. Three old, classic Donald Ross designs (Holston Hills, Memphis Country Club and Chattanooga Golf & Country Club) showcase the state’s roots as a golf state—but more modern designs like Tom Fazio’s The Golf Club of Tennessee and Troubadour Golf and Field Club, Jack Nicklaus’ Spring Creek Ranch (Jack Nicklaus) and Brian Silva’s Black Creek Club offer nice variety and types of architecture for every taste.

Of course, the crème de la crème is The Honors Course outside Chattanooga, designed by Pete Dye. The venerable championship layout has been ranked No. 1 since it opened in 1983 and has been a mainstay in the top third of our national rankings. The legendary Dye kept coming back to tweak the course to make subtle improvements over the years, and after his passing in 2020, it was a big deal that the club decided to go outside for assistance in making tweaks to the club, bringing in Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner to ensure the Dye classic is as good as it can be.

Below you'll find our 2023-'24 ranking of the Best Golf Courses in Tennessee.

We urge you to click through to each individual course page for bonus photography, drone footage and reviews from our course panelists. Plus, you can now leave your own ratings on the courses you’ve played … to make your case why your favorite should be ranked higher. 

1. (1) The Honors Course
Private
1. (1) The Honors Course
Ooltewah, TN
4.7
151 Panelists
Considered radical in the early 1980s because of its acres of tall, native-grass rough, durable Zoysiagrass fairways and terrifying greens perched atop bulkheads of rock, today The Honors Course is considered a well-preserved example of Pete Dye’s death-or-glory architecture. Other than reducing the contours in a couple of greens (particularly the 18th) in the late 1990s, and adjusting the bunkering in 2008, Dye left the course alone for most of his career. Georgia architect Bill Bergin did create a new practice facility at the club in 2015, and Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner touched everything up again in 2022.
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2. (2) The Golf Club of Tennessee
Private
2. (2) The Golf Club of Tennessee
Kingston Springs, TN
In the early 1990s, Tom Fazio, assisted by longtime associate Tom Marzolf, designed a sprawling golf-only layout just west of Nashville. They routed it over 317 acres, incorporating dense forest, rocky ridges and a river valley. Its first two holes play along the flat valley of Brush Creek, while the par-4 third runs uphill through thick trees to a green site on a bluff overlooking the valley. Four, a 200-yard par 3, requires a carry over a chasm that drops to the river. The par-3 eighth plays directly over the river, while the dogleg-right par-4 ninth hugs its rocky edge. After the par-3 10th, in a box-canyon to a green backdropped by tall shale outcropping and cascading springs, much of the back nine is in open meadowland. Sixteen is yet another par 3 over Brush Creek, the short par-5 17th has narrow dual fairways and par-4 18th doglegs left over the river. Fairways are Zoysia grass, greens are Penncross bent grass and roughs are fescue, native grasses and wildflowers.
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3. (3) Spring Creek Ranch
Private
3. (3) Spring Creek Ranch
Collierville, TN
During the early decades of golf in the U.S., courses were developed on natural, open properties in rural areas, often on former farms or ranches where the rolling land dictated the character of the holes. This simple formula describes Spring Creek Ranch Golf Club, a bucolic, stand-alone golf facility located on an old ranch east of Memphis. The easygoing design was part of a philosophical shift in the way Nicklaus built courses, transitioning from an eye that emphasized shotmaking to a more genteel style of shaping sympathetic to a range of skill sets. That’s not to suggest Spring Creek Ranch is benign—the holes zig-zag around ponds and wetlands, jump creeks and dart through the woods. One of them, a double-fairway par 5, occupies a staggering 20 acres of land.
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4. (4) Troubadour Golf & Field Club
Private
4. (4) Troubadour Golf & Field Club
College Grove, TN
4.1
45 Panelists
Troubadour, part of the Discovery Land Company’s growing international portfolio, is integrated into a high-end, amenity-rich development 30 miles south of Nashville. (The name is a reference to traveling musicians, familiar figures in these parts.) Sparing no expense, the course is built upon the bones of the former Hideaway at Arrington course, originally routed and built by the firm of von Hagge, Smelek and Baril. Troubadour’s elevated tees take players on a tour of the surrounding central Tennessee foothills. Though the holes play mostly down through established corridors, the redesign has eliminated much of the previous severity, replacing fields of steep, grassy moguls and ornate bunker clusters with longer, graceful lines. A number of greens were remediated away from hazards to more accessible locations, significantly at par 5s like 3, 9 and 12. Fazio and associate Blake Bickford also pushed the lateral boundaries farther toward the tree line, creating substantially more playing space, establishing greater visibility for their lovely golf compositions and introducing clean, large-format bunkers that guide the eye toward favored landing areas. The highlight is the panorama-rich run of holes 10 through 15 that ride up and down through isolated topography, cross creek ravines and generally look like they’ve existed there for decades, not months.
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5. (5) Holston Hills Country Club
Private
5. (5) Holston Hills Country Club
Knoxville, TN
4.4
80 Panelists
Holston Hills is a club that ultimately benefitted from being on the "wrong" side of town for many of its years. Because of that, the membership never had the money to go in for the kind of major modernization of its 1927 Donald Ross-designed course that so many other clubs of the era endured, few for the better. The result is that the Ross fundamentals are well-preserved, with a splendid routing that fans out in opposing directions from the clubhouse perch, holes that work up and over robust but never severe land movements (see the hogback par-4 second fairway), stellar cross-bunkering that one day might impact shot selection and the next day not, and greens that showcase lovely, original internal contours. The par 5s alternate between gettable and gotcha (the 517-yard seventh is one of Ross's most original half-par holes), the lovely bunkering of the short par-4 sixth elevates it to a must-see hole, and the run of 14, 15 and 16 that includes a long par 3 into a glen with a wickedly canted green, a mid-length down and up par 4 over a string of cops mounds and a drivable uphill par 4 to a tabletop green is one of the most ecclectic trio of holes in the state.
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6. (9) TPC Southwind
Private
6. (9) TPC Southwind
Memphis, TN
3.8
55 Panelists
The Ron Prichard design (with consultation from Hubert Green and Fuzzy Zoeller) has hosted an event on the PGA Tour since 1989, and starting in 2022, it hosts one of the premier events on the PGA Tour schedule, the first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Located about a half hour from downtown Memphis on an old dairy farm, TPC Southwind holds its own against the best players in the game with water coming into play on 11 holes. The par-3 11th hole is perhaps the course's signature hole, featuring a peninsula green that requires a short iron, similar to the 17th at TPC Sawgrass' Stadium course. The hole will be memorable for anyone who watched the 2022 FedEx St. Jude Championship, when Will Zalatoris' tee shot ended up staying dry and wedging itself between the grass, in his playoff victory over Sepp Straka.
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7. (11) Memphis Country Club
Private
7. (11) Memphis Country Club
Memphis, TN
4.1
55 Panelists

From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten:


Memphis Country Club is a Donald Ross design dating from 1917, one of his classic rectangular routings with the opening nine marching counterclockwise around the perimeter of the property, touching all four corners, and the back nine running clockwise through the center of the land, with holes bundled in triangles to avoid the monotony of parallel fairways.

This was a championship venue in its day, hosting the U.S. Amateur in 1948, when a Golf World preview piece wrote about its “thick, cushiony” Bermuda fairways, its “smooth, true” Bermuda greens and its “ruinous” Bermuda rough cut at five inches. (Five inches! For the Amateur! How philosophies have changed at the USGA.) Today the fairways are Zoysia, the approach ramps are 419 Bermuda and the greens are TifEagle. The rough is still Bermuda.

In Golf Digest’s original list of America’s 200 Toughest Courses (the forerunner to the present 100 Greatest), Memphis Country Club was ranked both in 1966 and 1967. These days, it’s considered just a pleasant country club experience.

Kris Spence, who specializes in Ross restorations, was retained to reclaim lost features, and he apparently saw many angular features in old aerials of the course—because today the greens at Memphis are oblong or rectangular with lots of right angle corners that offer new pin positions, and the bunkers are mostly long and slender or squat and squarish. Spence also removed a number of trees and added run-offs to the sides of some greens.

Years ago, The Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper picked the par-5 third and par-4 sixth as two of the area’s top holes, but to me the most interesting design is on the short par-4 ninth, with overhanging trees off the tee and more left and right that must be threaded to reach Spence’s long, dogleg green ensnarled with bunkers. I also like the short par-3 fourth with a prototypical perched Ross green fronted by sand.If there’s one feature I wish Spence had reintroduced, it’s the diagonal cross-bunker on the 240-yard par-3 10th that once reached from the left rough almost to the right edge of the approach fairway, probably 50 yards short of the green. It was described in its day as the “most deceiving” on the course.

Instead, Spence put a hook-shaped bunker at the left front of the present 10th green, maybe 20 yards short, but it’s easily avoided and offers no deception. But I will give him credit for re-establishing the cross hazard in front of the green on the 432-yard 17th, three diamond-shaped bunkers placed in a ridge diagonally across the approach to the green some 30 yards beyond. They’re like teeth on a bulldog.

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8. (14) Black Creek Club
Private
8. (14) Black Creek Club
Chattanooga, TN
3.8
51 Panelists

Brian Silva deserves recognition for being one of the first architects to rediscover, restore and popularize the architecture of Seth Raynor. At Black Creek Club, Silva was able to build his versions of Raynor and C.B. Macdonald’s “ideal holes” like the Short and the Biarritz, but the most remarkable one here, or almost anywhere else, is a Silva original. The par-5 sixth (pictured) plays across mostly open space, though drives must contend with bunkers jutting into the fairway from the left. The real engagement begins on the second and third shots. Golfers cannot see the green ahead, only a tall, fortress-like embankment of long grass and bunkers. At some point the rampart must be breached, and on the other side awaits a punchbowl arena of more than 55,000 square feet that would make Raynor blush, with sloping banks that funnel shots toward a large, square green perched against a creek. It was ranked by Golf Digest as one of the best holes in America designed after 2000.

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The Grove
Private
The Grove
College Grove, TN
4
45 Panelists
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12. (5) Belle Meade Country Club
Private
12. (5) Belle Meade Country Club
Nashville, TN
3.8
34 Panelists
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14. (NR) Hillwood Country Club
Private
14. (NR) Hillwood Country Club
Nashville, TN
4.1
27 Panelists
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15. (NR) Council Fire Golf Club
Private
15. (NR) Council Fire Golf Club
Chattanooga, TN
3.7
36 Panelists
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