ROCKFORD, Tenn. - Egwani Farms Golf Course is just a tad outside of oh-wow viewing range of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Bubba Watson might be able to hit the Smokies off the tee here, but since they're not really in reach for mortals, you don't have those jaw-dropping, mountain vistas you might get elsewhere in east Tennessee, a wee closer to the southern Appalachian range.
Still, the golf course has its own charms. It does have some moderate elevation, and nice views of the surrounding hills, and it is a very picturesque layout, with its open interior, mounding, weeping willow trees and year-round color.
The Little River borders Egwani for a mile and a half, and there are little streams, creeks and properties throughout the easy-rolling terrain. In fact, about half the holes have thin ribbons of creek trickling alongside fairways, and most of the holes sport water of some sort to provide both hazard and character.
It isn't overly long for Joe Public at 6,708 yards from the back tees and its easy slope rating of 128 from back there means it's very playable for pretty much anyone willing to try his or her hand at the game.
That said, there are some factors to watch for. Many of the holes have some tricky, interesting angles off the tee, making it a challenge with the driver. You have to hit to specific spots on the fairways, both to stay out of trouble and to set up your approaches.
The first two holes are good examples. No. 1 has a bunker left that creeps into the middle of the fairway, forcing a decision of whether to power it over, lay up or finesse it between the bunker and the trees to the right.
No. 2 has trees and a large bunker left, with more trees to the right, atop a hill, with the narrow landing area in between. If you hit a draw, you have to start it over those trees to the right and if you're off, you'll find trouble.
There are a few blind shots as well, so local knowledge helps - especially on No. 11 where there is a sharp fairway drop-off that leads to water.
Some of those aforementioned creeks cut across fairways and will take the driver out of your hands, if you're one of those golfers who likes to play it smart instead of the smash and dash game.
"I really like that course a lot," said golfer Jason Wright, of Georgia. "I try to play it when I'm up this way because you can shoot a pretty good score if you're playing good.
"And if you're playing (badly) like I am these days, you can still have a decent game, as long as you can hit your irons and stay out of the water. I mean, I hit some bad drives, but I could usually get close enough to the greens to have a chance at par."
There are a few risk/reward options, and the closing holes, Nos. 16-18 are excellent. The 16th is a 439-yard par-4, the longest on the course, with water all the way down the left.
No. 17 is a long par-3 with a pond dipping into the left front, and the closing hole is a relatively short par-5 with a reachable creek off the tee, making it longer if you choose to lay up.
Egwani Farms is an attractive option for any golfer wanting to play a good public course. The conditioning is good, as is the service, and the course has a good driving range and practice area.
The small greens are bentgrass, and are well maintained. They are relatively small and flat, though a couple are two-tiered, and the chipping areas around them are kept closely-mown, making it easy to get up and down if you miss with your approach.
Green fees range from $40-$58, depending on the day and your age.
The Marriott Courtyard is close to Knoxville and all the attractions of the city and surrounding areas.
It has 95 rooms and a heated, indoor swimming pool. There is also an outdoor whirlpool/spa as well as a lounge and meeting room.
November 15, 2007