If you’ve read our past course guides about Tennessee, you know that I love the Volunteer State and have spent a lot of time here. And yes, times were a little wild when I was here in my younger years. But we don’t need to rehash the whiskey and honky tonks that were a priority before I got married and had kids.
Instead, let’s talk about what you’re really here for. Golf. The community of Knoxville is thriving and vibrant. From music, to food, and culture, there’s no shortage of entertainment to be found here. What often goes overlooked, however, is the city’s public golf scene.
While I’ve played some of the tracks on this list, I asked our Knoxville area readers to chime in with their thoughts. They didn’t disappoint.
Egwani Farms Golf Course
Egwani is a Native American word which translates to Little River. It’s fitting because the river comes into play and can be seen on seven holes.
Before the course was built, the land was used for agriculture. As a result, the rich soil was perfect for growing grass.
In 2016, the course underwent extensive renovations, and the feedback has been nothing short of spectacular.
The layout is traditional and very much American. Mature trees line most fairways and clearly defined hazards are waiting to punish poor shots.
The greens are touted as some of the best in the area too. If you get putts started online, they’ll go in.
It comes as little surprise that Egwani Farms occupies a spot at the top of the list.
Williams Creek Golf Course
By now, you guys know I’m a sucker for a good short course. There’s just something about the inclusivity of these facilities that I find especially appealing. Not to mention the fact that you can usually play in a short amount of time.
It’s no secret why Williams Creek is often referred to as the best par three course in Tennessee.
Just because this track is short, doesn’t mean it won’t test you. Many holes play over water and greens are protected by steep runoffs and penal bunkers. If you’re going to score, your accuracy and distance control need to be on point.
Williams Creek is always in top-notch condition too. The tee boxes are perfectly manicured, and the greens roll true.
If you’re on limited time or just want to experience one of the best short courses anywhere, make a tee time at Williams Creek.
Wild Laurel Golf Course
If you want to get out of the city for a most peaceful round of golf, head to Wild Laurel.
Nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, this course blends seamlessly with the natural surroundings. The views are to die for and your chances of seeing wildlife are quite good.
The layout is straightforward, yet keeps you on your toes. Holes are both long and short, and provide chances for risk and reward. If you choose to play aggressively, you can make some birdies. However, errant shots will be punished. Choose wisely.
When you’re done with your round, make time to savor a cold brew and local fare in the Tavern.
A complete experience that will leave you wanting to come back for more, I highly recommend a round at Wild Laurel.
Gatlinburg Golf Course
Golf Digest calls Gatlinburg Golf Course “The Best Public Golf Course in Tennessee”. It’s not hard to see why.
This is mountain golf. The natural landscape of the Great Smoky Mountains makes for the perfect canvas on which to design a world-class course. Elevation change is a prominent theme, and the views have to be seen to be believed. Bring your camera.
The mixture of holes is also of note. Yardages vary and each hole stands out on its own. Unlike a lot of tracks where the holes seem to blend together, such is not the case at Gatlinburg.
As a fan of mountain golf myself, I make it a point to play Gatlinburg whenever I’m in the area.
Tennessee Centennial Golf Course
I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge fan of fall golf. The days are still warm, and the crowds of summer have more or less disappeared. Not to mention the fact that the scenery is usually downright breathtaking.
That’s certainly the case at Tennessee Centennial. Carved out of a splendid hardwood forest, accuracy is the name of the game here. While long drives can give you an advantage on some holes, precision is rewarded throughout.
Designed by George Baird and opened in 1996, this course was quickly met with critical acclaim and hasn’t looked back.
I recently played here when the leaves were changing and let me tell you, it was a spiritual experience as a golfer.
Regardless of when you play, you won’t be disappointed.
Avalon Country Club
When I first heard about Avalon Country Club, I thought it sounded like your grandfather’s country club. You know, the pleated pants, yes sir, yes ma’am type of joint.
Such couldn’t be further from the truth.
While the staff at Avalon pride themselves on making the experience of everyone memorable, there’s nothing overly ostentatious about this facility.
With that being said, the layout is nothing short of top-notch. The course encompasses some 166 acres at the base of (you guessed it) the Great Smoky Mountains.
Again, the views and topography are to die for. When you play here, you’ll be asked to hit a wide array of shots and think your way around.
It’s hard to describe just how special this place is. To find out, you have to come see it for yourself.
Island Point Golf Club
Island Point is widely regarded as one of the finest daily fee facilities in the eastern part of the country.
Located in the town of Kodak, between Knoxville and the Great Smoky Mountains, this course is both easy to get to and a treat to play.
The course occupies 175 acres and leaves you feeling like you’re in the middle of nowhere. Don’t be surprised if you come across wild turkeys, whitetail deer, and even the occasional black bear.
Designed by Arthur Hills, this is a modern design that keeps you on your toes from the first tee to the 18th green.
A mentionable test for the good player, yet welcoming for everyone, you’re sure to enjoy a round at Island Point.
Lambert Acres Golf Club
I keep talking about how scenic the courses in and around Knoxville are. Lambert acres is no exception.
Some 27 holes of memorable golf await here. Having played all three nines myself, I suggest you do too.
Again, elevation change is a factor. Choosing the right club can be tricky, but that’s part of the fun in my book.
Even though none of the nines are overly long, they ask you to think about what you’re doing. Narrow fairways and small green complexes demand precision.
Lambert Acres often goes overlooked, but it shouldn’t. It’s a great value and a pleasure to play.
Whittle Springs Golf Course
Every city needs a muni in my opinion. You probably know this song by now if you’ve read enough of our course guides.
I’m here to tell you that Whittle Springs is it in Knoxville.
Dating all the way back to 1932, not much has changed at Whittle Springs over the years concerning the golf course. However, it’s proven timeless in its design and what it asks of the player. Testament to that fact is that it continues to host the Knoxville City Amateur as it has for nearly the past 100 years.
The course measures less than 6,000 yards, yet the area’s best players will tell you that par is never a bad score. It’s all about the greens. They’re sloped, crowned, and downright quick. Just because you hit a wedge into most of the holes, doesn’t mean you can rip this place apart. Far from it.
I love this track for too many reasons to count. I think you will too.
Beverly Park Par Three Golf Course
The name says it all when it comes to Beverly Park. This is a short course perfectly suited for just about anyone that wants to try their hand at the hardest game in the world.
If there’s a place where prim and proper aren’t expected, it’s here. Everyone is welcome and all that matters is that you have fun.
Managed by the Tennessee Golf Association, this facility is all about growing the game.
The track is only nine holes and allows you to get around quickly.
A minimalist facility and the perfect spot for juniors, families, beginners, and just about everyone else, a good time is guaranteed at Beverly Park.
There are any number of reasons to visit the great state of Tennessee. Music, food, whiskey, culture, the list goes on.
What often gets overlooked however, is the quality of golf to be found in the Volunteer State. The community of Knoxville is a prime example.
While I’ve played a fair bit here, I’m certainly no authority. Thankfully, there’s a strong contingency of Golfer’s Authority readers that are. To them, I send my warm thanks for sharing your thoughts about your fine city’s public golf.
If you have additional thoughts, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.