Holston Hills Country Club
Knoxville, Tennessee, United States of America

Fifth hole, 615 yards; One of the games most attractive long three shot holes. Bunkers lurk down both sides of the fairway and the grass faces are high enough to prevent the golfer from hitting more than a mid iron out. Any misstep on the first two shots and in all likelihood, the green fails to be in reach for one’s third. The bunkering insists that the golfer concentrate on each of his three shots, a rarity.

This bunker cuts across more than half the fairway at the 270 yard mark from the green. More bunkers lurk ahead.

Seventh hole, 475 yards; The split fairway seventh is Ross’s most innovative hole at Holston Hills and is a wonderful example of a half par hole. The weaker golfer can go right and can still accomplish the hole in the suggested number of strokes. The tiger will go left, which requires a two hundred yard carry past a pond and over a ridge. This fairway is narrower and is bordered by trees on the left. But if one does find the fairway, the downhill slope will help pitch his balleven closer to the green and one may be left with as little as a mid iron into the green. Michael Fay likes the hole so much that he selected it in his eclectic make-up of a Ross course in Golf, As It Is Meant to Be Played.

From the end of the right fairway, the golfer faces a 220 yard shot across a diagonal bunker array.

Twelfth hole, 470 yards; The hardest par at Holston Hills comes at this uphill hole. However, the hole is so esthetically pleasing from the tee that the golfer may not fully appreciate the task at hand. Too many modern courses feature holes that look AND play tough: what is the charm in doing that?! Creating a bear of a hole that remains pleasurable is something altogether more vexing and Ross is one of the very few who consistently didso.

The appealing twelfth, as it meanders up the slope. The green possesses the most back to front slope of any on the course.

Fifteenth hole, 380 yards; Unique because of the distinctive five foot tall grass mounding that cuts across the fairway at the 190 yard mark off the tee, the hole’s real defense is the green’s back to front pitch and its imaginative interior contours.

Once the unique mounding is cleared off the fifteenth tee, the approach is to yet another perfectly placed green.

By the time the golfer reaches thesixteenth tee, he has played the toughest holes at Holston Hills. The remaining three holes are a short two shotter followed by a pair of reachable three shot holes. Such a closing stretch creates an exciting finish, either in stroke or match play. Plus, it gives Holston Hills its own unique pacing. Too bad modern architecture relentlessly focuses on monster finishes, many of which are boring and leave the golfer felling beat up after a round.

The club golfer can take great delight as he plays a round at Holston Hills. He is in an uninterrupted, expansive setting of rare tranquility. He should hit plenty of fairways (there is little psychologically terrifying about the tee shots save for the Cape hole) and the greens are of ample size as well at an average of 6,600 square feet. However, the tiger golfer will be trying to hit the side of the fairway that opens up the approach shot and will relish placing his approach in the right portion of the green. Putting is an enjoyable test for one and all.

This is how Ross intended golf to be played: fun for all golfers while still challenging to the best. Holston Hills lives up to that charge as well as any Ross course in the country.And just as importantly, the Club continues to head in the right direction (unlike a lot of clubs blessed with Ross courses). Listen to Green Keeper Ryan Blair:

The club is now moving in the direction of just becoming a golf club, while at the same time working to better preserve the course.Many trees still need to be removed. For the short term my staff will be working on making the course play more like a traditional classic course should, Hard and Fast. Turn off the irrigation, stop putting out the fertilizers, mow out some chipping areas, and return the fairways to their traditional shape. I am ready to return this course to its classic links tradition.

Every Ross fan needs to see Holston Hills.

The tranquil setting near the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.

The End