Black Creek Club
Tennessee, United States of America
Seventh hole, 215 yards; A well constructed mirror image Redan that possesses what many lack: enough left to right slope to feed the ball down to the far right hole locations. A well struck long iron will land the ball in the neck and to watch it as it takes the slope and slowly rolls across the green for what seems like days is a sheer delight.
Eleventh hole, 180 yards; As exemplified here, golf at Black Creek is about playing the angles well. This one shotter is in the midst of a series of two shot holes (the ninth, tenth, twelfth, and thirteenth) where there is either deep bunkers or a stream that cut across the left face of the green at something like a 45 degree angle. Properly judging the approach shots in this stretch is at the heart of the challenge of Black Creek.
Twelfth hole, 460 yards; Many people’s favorite hole on the course because it has it all: natural beauty, fairway bunkers that create strategy/uncertainty, a perfectly situated green site with Dry Branch cutting across the fairway and hugging the left side of the elevated green, and heaps of short game interest. A first rate golf hole that highlights how well Silva routed the course around the numerous creeks and gullies. Silva had to reroute the creek once (50 yards short of the 7th green) but otherwise, the creeks and gullies at Black Creek are where nature put them.
Fifteenth hole, 355 yards; An original version of a Cape hole, a spine in the fairway will kick any ball that hits left middle further left, giving it a good chance of bounding onto the green. However, the golfer knows for sure that he wants to avoid the wetland areas down the left, and many a steer/block drive can result. From anywhere long right in the fairway, the angle of the pitch is nothing short of horrible. Indeed, the golfer may struggle to just hit the green and get away with a two putt par. Thus, some players elect to play an iron off the tee. By staying back in the fairway, the right hand greenside bunker won’t cripple the angle as much. Coupled with the original version of the Alps/Punchbowl sixth hole and the drivable tenth hole, the Raynor fan appreciates that Silva’s original adaptations are some of the best holes on the course.
Seventeenth hole, 210 yards; As fun to play as any hole built in the past fifty years, it shows the commitment of the founders: such a green is neither inexpensive to build nor easy to maintain but they never once considered having anything other than a full length Biarritz green. To see a ball hit the front shelf and then disappear into the swale … only to eventually reappear and take the slope up to the back shelf, is as good as golf can get. The full length Biarritz green canmake club selection varyas much as five clubs (!) and the Club consciously presents the one shot holes each day in a manner that requires as much diversity in club selection as possible.
The founders of Black Creek are members of Raynor’s nearby Lookout Mountain. Their dream of paying tribute to Raynor’s design style was made possible by making Black Creek part of a housing development. Without the housing, the course would never have been built.
Momentarily, until the trees and shrubs fill in on the edge of the property, the housing competes with the golf holes for the attention of the golfer’s eye. Interestingly enough, though, Raynor’s engineered look helps hold the attention of the golfer. Regardless of the housing, based on any hole by hole analysis, this design sticks out as a gem, even if you have never heard of a fellow called Raynor.