Add Sevierville, Tennessee to Your Golf Destination List
By Katharine Dyson
Sevierville (severe-ville), Tennessee, the hometown of Dolly Parton, has recently emerged as a solid golfing destination with the opening of Sevierville Golf Club's Highlands and River Courses created by combining a former 18-hole track along with some additional acreage.
On Highlands, the only remaining holes of the original layout are 6 through 9 while on River, #1 is the old #16 and five other holes remain from the former plan.
Both tracks share blow-out views of the Great Smoky Mountains plus a new clubhouse with a restaurant, pro shop, patio and locker rooms. Courses are within walking distance of the 600-room Wilderness Resort, popular with families and groups for its indoor and outdoor waterpark and conference center.
The courses feature fast-running Bent grass greens and fairways and a combination of meadows, wetlands, forests and hills while the Little Pigeon River weaves through the landscape. There are some twisting, crazy quilt kind of routings from greens to tees such as between holes 6 and 7 on Highlands and between 5 and 6 on River, but for the most part, the new holes are well integrated into the old.
Teeing up on the first hole of Highlands, the shortest of the tracks at 6,200 yards, Mark Wallace, director of golf said, "If you get by the first five holes with just a bogie or two, you are likely to have a good round." Indeed the first hole, a par 5, requires a careful placement on your drive between bunkers on the right and water all along the left to set up your second shot. Long hitters will have a chance at the green while shorter hitters may find an uneven lie amidst mounds.
On Highlands you don't see a par 3 until the 6th and 8th holes, both 200 yard carries from the back tees while the back nine has four par 3s, the longest #16 at 235 yards. Although short, there is enough water, elevations and tricky greens to make Highlands a challenging and fun play. And with five tees and forwards set at 4,185 yards, it's a good bet for shorter hitters and family play.
Especially scenic holes on the River Course that plays 7,120 yards from the tips (4,967 forward) are holes 5, 6 and 7. Set on an island bisected by a creek your first impression is that River is very links-like, that is until you start climbing into the hills. Hole #11 and several of the holes that follow feature challenging carries and elevations while the finishing hole a par 5 downhill with the green tucked behind a pond, is especially strong.
The price is right too at $59 including a cart at both courses.
Other good golf courses include the River Islands Golf Club, Gatlinburg Country Club and Bent Creek Golf Course.
Where to Eat
At the Highlands and River Course clubhouse, you are in for a treat thanks to Chef Aaron Ward. From his homemade potato chips - I dare you to stop at just one - to the beyond chocolate gooey cake and just perfect steaks, Ward is forever creating new dishes made from freshest of local ingredients.
Tony Gore's Smoky Mountain BBQ & Grill is another gotta go spot. Tony, a celebrated Southern gospel singer as well as cook and concert promoter, throws big parties under a tent in his "Dinner on the Ground Concert Series but even when there is no music, people come here to chow down on his legendary smoked port, hand breaded chicken tenders, hushpuppies and cakes and pies he bakes himself from his grandmother's recipes. His coconut cake is gooey, fluffy and often warm from the oven. Tonygore.com.
For more good BBQ try Clints BBQ and Country Cookin' where the fried steaks and BBQ ribs are served amidst a collection of old-time memorabilia including a huge Texaco sign and several toy vehicles.
Rooms at the Wilderness at the Smokies Resort feature hefty log headboards, burnt orange and brown decor along with thick comfortable mattresses and plasma screen tvs. Stay in the Stone Hill Lodge adjacent to the Salamander Springs outdoor waterpark or in the multi-bedroom condo-style units at River Lodge next to the Wild Water Dome indoor water park and Lake Wilderness outdoor extravaganza. Wilderness at the Smokies.com
Although the closest you may get to Ms. Dolly is a photo opp in front of her bronze statue on the lawn of the County Courthouse, the Sevierville/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area is smokin' with off-course things to do starting with Dollywood theme park with its giant roller coasters, old mining buildings and Craftsman Valley.
Sevierville's zipline adventures on Foxfire Mountain will send you on a controlled "flight" through the treetops while fly fishing with the Smoky Mountain Angler and world class shows like the Chinese acrobats in Cirque de Chine give you other ways to spend your off-course time.
Power shopping is booming at the upscale Tanger Outlet Mall where you can find heavily discounted items in Calvin Klein, Brooks Brothers, Coach and other stores.
Revised: 09/12/2012 - Article Viewed 21,998 Times
About: Katharine Dyson
Katharine Dyson is a freelance golf and travel writer, author, and columnist for several national & international publications and websites as well as guidebook author and blogger. Realizing that a golf and travel writer is the most underpaid, over privileged profession on the planet, she embraces the life style traveling all over the world to play golf and check out resorts. She is a member of the Golf Writers Association of American, Golf Travel Writers of America, the Society of American Travel Writers, and Metropolitan Golf Writers Association.