The Chattanooga area boasts two of the best golf course holes in America, according to a new national ranking of the best courses by Golf Digest magazine.
Nestled in the mountains surrounding Chattanooga, the McLemore Cove course atop Lookout Mountain in Walker Conty has the best 18th hole, while the Black Creek Club in Lookout Valley next to Aetna Mountain has the best hole 6 of any course, the golf publication concludes in its new ranking of America's best 18 holes.
McLemore Cove, formerly the Canyon Ridge golf course, rebuilt its course and added the 18th hole last year. The final hole is perched along the eastern bluff of Lookout Mountain overlooking McLemore Cove and Pigeon Mountain and was relocated to make room for the new 10,000-square-foot clubhouse that will open on the course this fall.
"We've always believed in this special place, but it's definitely a huge validation to have this premier group in the golf industry recognize a portion of our course as the very best," said Duane Horton, president of Scenic Land Co., which acquired the golf course development in 2017 and has been working to develop the site ever since.
Designed by golf course architects Bill Bergin and Rees Jones, the final hole at McLemore Cove is a par 4 hole that plays along the edge of a sheer precipice that drops more than 350 feet down to the floor of McLemore Cove.
"The fairway rises to meet a green that seems to hover in midair," Golf Digest's Derek Duncan and Ron Whitten write about the 18th hole at McLemore Cove. "Great finishing holes should leave an impression, and few anywhere are more memorable or more resplendent than this one."
The golf magazine also praises Black Creek, which was designed by Brian Silva, for its wooded hole 6. The par-5 hole requires golfers on the second or third shot to shoot toward the unseen green ahead, which is blocked by a tall, fortress-like embankment of long grass and bunkers.
"On the other side awaits a punch bowl 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," Golf Digest says in its praise of the unique hole.
Golf Digest said the ranking of the 18 best holes was based upon "finding holes that are fun to play, because that's the overwhelming trend thus far in this century."
The two local courses with the top-rated holes are built adjacent to major residential and resort projects that are counting on the golf course appeal to help spur hundreds of millions of dollars in surrounding development.
In 2006, Chattanooga builder Doug Stein and his partners in Black Creek bought the Cummings Cove development as well as a large tract of land on the part of nearby Raccoon Mountain known as Aetna Mountain. The developers have begun building homes in the 2,600-acre development just west of downtown Chattanooga.
Last year, local planners approved the first phase of development on the mountain for about 170 homes, priced from $350,000 and up, and a 7-acre commercial center with a community center, convenience store and ultimately a potential hotel or lodge.
Twenty-five miles to the South, McLemore Cove also is continuing to grow around its rebuilt golf course.
Horton said the developers have completed most of the grading and are close to finalizing finances to build a $100 million resort hotel and conference center. The Curio Collection by Hilton will have 245 rooms and a 30,00-square-foot conference center.
The residential development at McLemore Cove has about 70 built homes so far and a total of 150 of the 400 residential lots have been sold. Horton said eight homes and cottages are now being built at McLemore Cove "and many more are under active discussion."
Contact Dave Flessner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6340.