PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club


Road Report: Gatlinburg, Tennessee

When it comes to golf, we get around. Each month our editors share dispatches on the cool places they visit.
September 11, 2015

When a course has nicknames for holes like Hi Ho, Sky Hi, Look Out and Down the Hatch, you expect big elevation changes. Gatlinburg Golf Course (pictured above), just outside the Tennessee entrances to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, doesn't disappoint.

The course is like a roller coaster on the back nine, which is fitting because these are the holes that run closest to the neighboring Dollywood theme park. (You will hear the whistle from Dollywood's narrow-gauge steam train throughout the back side.)

The most memorable hole is No. 12 (Sky Hi), a par 3 with a hang-time-inducing 200-foot drop from tee to green. A helpful sign explains how to play it. From the 194-yard back tees, for example, you'll want to hit your 165-yard club.

Though the front nine is not quite as dramatic, there is plenty to like. The first tee sends you down a severe incline to a wide fairway, and after that you'll make your way through gently rolling hills and a pleasing mix of long and short holes. Views of the Smoky Mountains abound.

Gatlinburg Golf Course was built in 1955 and was renovated most recently in 2007 by architect Bob Cupp. In 2009, Golf Digest named it the No. 1 municipal course in Tennessee. I haven't played them all, but that seems like a fair assessment to me. The peak-season green fee: $60, including cart.