The Honors Course
Tennessee, United States of America
Good luck trying to find someone who has anything negative to say about The Honors Course. From its inception by Jack Lupton as a place to honor amateur golf to its caddie program to its contributions in the turf grass industry, The Honors is about promoting the best in golf.
Situated just north of Chattanooga, the 460 acres of land is tucked in a secluded valley at the foot of White Oak Mountain. There are no outside distractions, no tennis courts, no swimming pool. With the practice field near the main entrance of the clubhouse, golf is clearly the thing and you will enjoy it in one of the most idlylic settings imaginable. Indeed, as you wind up the long entrance drive, your biggest worry is avoiding wild turkeys.
This naturalness is what makes the lasting impression on the golfer. Jack Lupton deserves full credit for creating such a sanctuary but the hands-on credit for achieving this state belongs to the legendary – there is no other word – Greenkeeper David Stone.
Just ask Pete Dye about David Stone, but if you do, be prepared to listen for a long time. Dye has the utmost respect for Stone, praises him every chance he gets, and considers him one of the greatest Greenkeepers in the country. As Pete Dye succintly states, ‘He understands grasses and that’s what makes a golf course great.’
In Bury Me in a Pot Bunker, Dye devotes much of that chapter taking about how much Stone has meant to the course. Originally from Holston Hills in nearby Knoxville, PB Dye found Stone there as they were nearing completion of the course. An avid golfer himself, Stone has been at The Honors Course since its inception in 1983.
His work with different grasses steals the show and makes the presentation of other modern courses pale in comparison. When Stone first accepted the position, he roamed the Chattanooga valley studying the different native grasses. Stone then gradually began planting such natives as fescues and broomsedge to create a wall to wall environment rich in texture. Today, as a the golfer walks the course with his caddy, he can’t help but admire the different hues of wheat, beige, rusts, tans, and browns that Stone has cultivated over the years.
As Stone once noted, ‘We let nature influence our entire golf course. We have areas that we let the natural diversity of plants come in, which in turn leads to the diversity of insects, birds, and other wildlife that nature intended.’ In recognition of Stone’s work, the Audubon Society awarded The Honors Course in 1991 as being a wildlife habitat preservation.
To this day, Lupton continues his steadfast support of Stone and his research work. With such backing, Stone now has over thirty varieties of bent and five of zoysia under study in a designated four acre area.
Holes to Note
Fifth hole, 460 yards; A beautifully sweeping dogleg to a green that sits in its own fold. Too many doglegs don’t offer an advantage off the tee but not here. A high draw that hugs the inside left both shortens the approach and improves the angle into the green, which is guarded by a five foot deep bunker on its right.