The grand opening of the 18-hole golf course designed by Rick Robbins for The Canyon Ridge Club on Georgia's Lookout Mountain has been set for June 24. Located some 30 minutes from Chattanooga, Tenn., the course will open to the general public a day later with special rates and packages.
"We are going to open up in a semi-private state and then convert to a private facility," developer Randy Baker said. "People are going to be amazed at how intimidating the course looks from the tee, but how fair and reasonable it is. It will blow people away."
Unlike many mountain courses, Canyon Ridge Golf Course is relatively flat, supporting a wide range of handicaps. Most drives from the elevated first tee take between 10-12 seconds to land.
Writers who attended a "sneak preview" outing offered rave reviews. "Baker's got a jewel on his hands," veteran golf columnist Chris Dortch wrote.
Robbins, an architect with more than 31 years of experience, is pleased with its potential.
"It lived up to what I had hoped it would be," he said. "It is going to prove to be one of the best courses my company has ever done. People are going to play Canyon Ridge Club and remember darn near every hole out there. Golfers will be able to go back and recount their round with relative ease."
The greens are designed to be highly accessible while maintaining a graduated series of more difficult pin placements. In order to avoid excessive cross hazards that cause a "forced carry" of long distances, hazards tend to be just out of reach for all except the more accomplished player who will then be facing a more demanding shot. The course supports from 4-6 tee markers on each hole to accommodate a variety skill levels, from beginner to pro.
Choices for play on each hole are very visible and clearly defined, giving golfers a chance to make their game as easy or as difficult, per shot, as they choose by judging the prevalent conditions of wind, temperature, moisture and so on.
"While Canyon Ridge has vertical elevation changes, it's not quite as horizontal as most mountain properties," Baker said. "The result is the drama of a mountain golf experience, yet you get wide and gentle fairways. It's just a great golf course that happens to be on a spectacular mountain. The only thing more dramatic than the way the golf course starts is the way it ends."
The first and 18th holes on the eastern brow of Lookout Mountain offer panoramic views of the surrounding rocky landscape and the Valley stretched out below, he said.
Canyon Ridge Golf Course features a training area complete with practice bunker, chipping green, and undulating course-conditioned putting green.
Jim Haslam, president of HMS Golf, the company that will manage the course, called it a very unique track.
"You don't run across too many golf courses that are of this caliber," he said. "It's truly a mountain golf course. A lot of the mountain golf courses you go to are in the mountains but run down in the valleys. This course sits out on the edge of the mountain and there are some pretty spectacular holes here."
According to Baker, "The course at Canyon Ridge Club will be one of the best in the Southeast. Combined with the beauty and charm of Lookout Mountain and the wonderful family atmosphere in nearby Chattanooga, Tauqueta Falls is currently one of the best kept secrets in private communities."
The 420-acre property is also home to Founding Member Club Cottages and 500 residences. Construction of a custom log home village has also begun, with plans for more than 150 condominiums, including some that will be built into the side of a cliff near the 18th green.
Special care was taken during construction to be sensitive to the environmental aspects of the landscape by making the golf course "fit the land."
June 7, 2005