The Great Smoky Mountains are one of the largest mountain ranges in the United States. They are featured in a national park that is spread across the states of Tennessee and North Carolina. If you’re seeking good golf courses near the Smokies in Tennessee, your best bet is the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge area, where several of the courses have been honored by national magazines such as “Golf Digest.”
The courses on the Tennessee side of the Smoky Mountains have earned awards from national publications. Gatlinburg Golf Course is considered the state of Tennessee’s best public course by “Golf Digest,” while Bent Creek Golf Village, also in Gatlinburg, is considered one of the 50 best courses in the South by “Southern Living” magazine. “Golf Digest” also honored Sevierville’s Eagle’s Landing Golf Club as a “Best Public Course,” and River Islands Golf Club as one of Tennessee’s top 10 courses.
Eagle’s Landing Golf Club might be a municipal tract run by the city of Sevierville, but it’s one of the few courses considered good enough to host state and regional tournaments. At more than 7,200 yards, the course is long enough to serve as the host of the Tennessee PGA Championship, the Knoxville PGA Chapter Championship, the Tennessee State Open qualifying, the Tennessee Intercollegiate championship, the Mid-South Collegiate championship and the Tennessee PGA Calloway Open.
The area’s mountainous terrain plays into the designs of some of these courses. River Islands Golf Club designer Arthur Hills turned this rugged terrain into a Scottish links-style course. The course also uses the French Broad River as a natural defense. Gatlinburg Golf Course features a par-3 hole that is 194 yards long and features a 200-foot drop from the tee box to the green. Bent Creek Golf Village in Gatlinburg features two distinct nines, with one relatively flat and the other featuring undulation accented by the surroundings. Baneberry Golf Club and Resort in Baneberry is nearly surrounded by Lake Douglas, and the course brings the lake into play on several occasions.
Baneberry Golf Club and Resort in Baneberry provides a nod to Augusta National in Augusta, Georgia, with its own “Amen Corner.” Baneberry uses the 11th, 12th and 13th holes–the same holes that are considered “Amen Corner” at Augusta–to create a stern test for players that can make or break their round. All three holes at Baneberry feature dense trees as natural defenses. The 11th hole is a hilly, dogleg left, par 4, followed by a 199-yard, par 3 and a dogleg right, par 4 on the the 13th hole.
Staying at the Course
If you want to stay and play in the area, Baneberry is a good place to go. The course features villas that give guests views of the course, along with a resort-style hotel, swimming pool and tennis courts. Bent Creek Golf Village allows players to stay in the course’s cabins or condos, some of which also offer views of the course.