Rob Collins grabbed a golf club, dropped a ball on a patch of sodded Bermuda grass beside the eighth green and launched a shot onto the ninth green Tuesday.
His ball soared about 175 yards away from its teeing ground. The landing created a crater and a cloud of dust, even though it landed safely on the green.
Then Collins used his imagination because the ninth green at the course formerly known as Sequatchie Valley Golf and Country Club is nothing but sand, dirt and gravel with some grass squares growing in around a few greens.
"That ball would have gone right on down to the pin," Collins said. "A couple months from now, that's a good shot."
Collins and his course design company partner Tad King have been working for several years to redesign and improve the old nine-hole golf course. It will have a new name when the owners hit a ceremonial first tee shot this summer.
"We're going to offer real quality, top-notch golf, and we want to make it something that people of the Sequatchie Valley and Marion County can be proud of," said Reece Thomas, who is the spokesman for his family that owns the 72-acre property two turns and two miles from the South Pittsburg exit off Interstate 24.
"We're going to rename it," Thomas said. "There's a certain stigma attached to the old name."
It's a brand-new course. There are elevation changes. The old course had four feet of difference in elevation and was prone to flooding. The new design has high mounds and low grounds for rain runoff, which should make it playable on all but the wettest of rainy days.
The old course used to be simple. Golfers could hit driver, then an iron and two-putt for par. When the grass fills in -- in about four months -- the course can play as long as 3,200 yards and will have two par-3s, two par-5s and five par-4s including No. 5, which is a drivable hole at 275 yards but has a 10-foot bunker guarding the boomerang-shaped green.
"We're reintroducing the idea of having fun," said Collins, who graduated from Sewanee and earned a master's degree at Mississippi State. "People are supposed to have a good time, and it will be real hard to lose a golf ball here."
The new course has challenges -- but nothing too difficult. More importantly, it will provide options off the tee and from the fairway. There will be no one good way to get around with birdies.
Collins and King have built blind tee shots. They've built a massive bunker. They've brought water into play in the middle of the round.
They think it will be challenging for scratch golfers who play from the tips and fun for those who will play for two hours on an extended lunch break.
"We are delivering a course that we hope is the quality of The Honors Course," King said. "It's nine holes that we love."
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...