Planning the perfect golf trip, Pt. 3: Tennessee State Parks
In a pair of recent blogs, I’ve tried to figure out just what makes a yearly golf trip of 40 guys who mainly know each other from this trip such a rousing success.
Aside from the sterling character of each and every one of the hand-picked attendees (not sure how I ever qualified on this count, but I’m keeping my mouth shut), the quality and affordability of the golf is key.
Reponses to my last blog included a couple of comments recommending Pinehurst and Bandon Dunes, among other, for the perfect golf trip. These folks apparently are used to far ritzier golf and travel than I am.
What I’m talking about here is a 3-4 day golf trip for a few hundred dollars, rather than a few thousand.
If fun AND affordability are your goals – and you’re not a golf writer who doesn’t have to pay for golf travel (of which I’m usually guilty myself) – the Tennessee State Parks are highly recommended. A full 13 of these parks have their own golf courses, many of which are long, challenging layouts.
For example, the one at Ross Creek State Park is a Jack Nicklaus design. And the course at Henry Horton State Park is a personal favorite, where you’ll find one of the hardest par 4s in the state, the 461-yard 10th.
The Ross Creek course – along with the courses at Chickasaw, Harrison Bay, Cumberland Mountain, and Tim’s Ford – is part of the Bear Trace Golf Trail, a Nicklaus-themed collection of courses throughout the state modeled after the wildly successful Robert Trent Jones Trail in Alabama.
This year, we went to Montgomery Bell State Park, one of the shortest courses in the park system at just over 6,100 yards. The conditions were excellent, though, and the relative shortness of some of the holes made the afternoon best-ball scrambles a lot of fun. Green fees are bargain-basement, and can be negotiated even lower for large groups.
One of the big plusses to a golf trip to a Tennessee state park is that extremely affordable lodging is available on-site, in the form of 6-person cabins. At Montgomery Bell, the cabins were disappointing – old and critter-infested – but are scheduled to be torn down to make way for new ones this very summer. The cabins at Henry Horton have recently been completely rebuilt and are reported to be quite luxurious in comparison to the old ones.
Each park also has a hotel and restaurant on-site, which are likewise affordable. Each year we avail ourselves of the pavilions as well for our annual cook-out.
Best of all, none of us spends over $400-$500 including food, transportation, lodging, green fees, and wagering money (with the exception of the guys who fly in from Florida and California). And that’s for SIX rounds of golf!
We all know the first-class golf resorts, the ones we save up for for years to visit. But if you’re looking for an affordable yearly event within driving range from most of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic seaboard, Tennessee is tough to beat.
The Bear Trace at Chickasaw State Park
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