Lookout Mountain Golf Club
Georgia, United States of America

Holes to Note

Second hole, 430 yards; Originally the thrilling Home hole, this downhiller is visually dramatic off the tee with the golfer needing to skirt seven massive fairway bunkers that are in clear view – four bunkers line the inside of the gentle dogleg left with another three on the far side. The approach is to a typically (and wonderfully) gigantic 6,900 square foot Raynor green, whose back to front pitch places a preminum on keeping the approach below the hole.

Fourth hole, 225 yards; A Biarritz hole of the highest order, with the right bunker as deep as twenty feet (or as Brian Silva points out, the green is as high as twenty feet). Raynor’s drawings clearly indicate that the five foot swale was not initially intended to be kept as green but hopefully, the current Club Board can convince the membership to extend the green some forty yards toward the tee.

This daunting bunker guards the right side of the Bairritz green.

Fifth hole, 390 yards; A blind drive to a left to right sloping fairway is actually the easier of the two shots. The approach is to a ‘dustpan’ green (it is not quite a punchbowl as the front is open) with a fearsome amount of back to front pitch. Anything above the hole is dead; conversely, anything short of the green is likely to be gobbled up by a fifteen foot greenside bunker. What’s a golfer to do?

The diabolical 5th green complex

Sixth hole, 125 yards; Perhaps the most intimidating Short hole in Raynor’s portfolio, the green is perched on granite and is the consummate island target with eighteen foot drop-offs right and long. The object is simple: hit the putting surface or else. Such was always Macdonald’s intent for his Short holes and Raynor pulls it off brilliantly here. Interestingly enough, one of the complaints about the greens at Fairyland in the late 40’s and 50’s was that they were ‘surrounded by these steep slopes, and some of them looked like top hats.’ Thankfully, such green complexes as at the sixth were too formidable to be bulldozed by less well informed committees.

The intimidating Short hole – hit the green or else!

The eighteen foot drop-off is best appreciated from a distance.

Tenth hole, 565 yards; An ingenious three shot Cape hole that follows the sweep of the hillside from high right to low left. Seven fairway bunkers dot the way but not handling the sloping fairway is generally what keeps the tiger golfer from getting a ‘four.’

Genuine fairway bunkers (!) on an American course – these dot the way along the 10th, as seen from the 13th tee. Before the restoration, the Cape hole had no such bunkers.

Eleventh hole, 400 yards; A spectacular Alps hole, with the blind, boldly contoured green aligned to the mountain peak in the far distance. The thrill of scrambling to the top of a hill to see where your approach shot has gone is something that modern architecture sadly lacks.

Thirteenth hole, 200 yards; In a unique touch, this Redan plays downhill some 25 feet. Distance judgement is tricky but crucial as the deep bunker behind the green was faithfully restored and is no place to find oneself. Silva is particularly pleased with the removal of a flash bunker that had been installed at some point right in the right side of the kick-back area and how they reworked ‘the approach of the Redan to get a better Indy 500 turn at the right front of the green so that folks can play the appropriate shot to the green.’

Imagine the ruined playing characteristics with a bunker high right of this Redan green vs how it now appears!

Seventeenth hole, 395 yards; Patterned loosely after the eleventh at National Golf Links of America, this Double Plateau green must be seen to be fully appreciated. Silva says ‘we compared notes on double plateaus we had seen – Chicago, Essex County and Hackensack, among others – and combined this information with members’ pre-flattening recollections of the original seventeenth in our re-design.’ Silva’s research paid off handsomely and numerous interesting hole locations make this hole. The back hole location is used every fourth day and is a fine example of an architect dictating that a low trajectory, running ball is optimum. Also, Silva’s attention to aligning the grass face of aforward bunker near the tee to that of the fairway bunker in the distance that is really in play is to be commended.

Notice the high left plateau, followed by a dip and then the back plateau with the day’s hole location

Eighteenth hole, 385 yards; Banks considered this the finest hole on the course from a ‘technical golfing standpoint.’ By that perhaps he was referring to the risk/reward element of the tee shot. The extreme sides of the fairway offer the more level stance to approach the green and the better angle but that is exactly where the trouble lurks. On the left side of the fairway were bunkers/broken ground and on the right side, the out of bounds stakes for the public road threaten. For those who play it ‘safe’ and head down the middle with their tee ball, an awkward stance with the ball above your feet will greet the golfer and make getting the approach near the hole on this contoured green difficult indeed.

Banks considered this hole perfect from a ‘technical golfing standpoint.’

This is the final point that must be made of the challenge at Lookout Mountain: more so than even Yale, the golfer battles uneven stances for his approach shot. Mind you, nothing that is silly but rather just enough to test a golfer’s true knowledge of his swing.

The setting of Lookout Mountain GC is unique in the world of golf, and so can be the course. Much work has been successfully done already to return the Raynor features to this course, but work remains. The Board, Brian Silva and Superintendent Mark Stovall are working hand in hand. Trees are being felled, vistas are opening up, native fescues are being encouraged to give the course additional texture. All in all, it is one of a handful of most exciting reclamation projects in golf. With the right attention to detail, its success will yield a course of uncommon pleasure for golfers of every level – and a must-see for all Raynor fans.

The End