More than 12 million tourists visit Nashville every year, many of them drawn to the city’s vibrant music and entertainment scene. After all, Tennessee’s capital is home to more than 180 recording studios, not to mention several famous live music venues along Broadway, a thoroughfare running through the city that’s also known as Honky Tonk Highway. But in packing for a getaway to Music City, you shouldn’t exclude your golf clubs.
Here, we spotlight five of the best public golf courses in and around Nashville.
Harpeth Hills Golf Course (Nashville)
Golfers who are willing to drive about 20 minutes south of downtown Nashville will discover a true gem of public golf for the area. Harpeth Hills, which blankets the undulating terrain of Percy Warner Park, first opened for play in 1965, though the 6,899-yard municipal layout enjoyed a comprehensive redesign in 1991, one that did more to reflect the natural landscape of the site. New green complexes seeded with TifEagle ultra-dwarf Bermuda were built in 2017 and elevate the playability and overall conditioning that the course provides. Best of all, green fees are remarkably inexpensive—players can enjoy a weekend round with a cart for less than $50.
Beautiful hole 17 at Harpeth Hills pic.twitter.com/jeDFEU4kj3
— George Plaster (@georgeplastertn) June 23, 2020
Greystone Golf Club (Dickson)
Mark McCumber won 10 times on the PGA Tour, his most impressive victory coming in 1988 at the PLAYERS Championship, where he led after three of the four rounds and cruised to a four-stroke victory. A decade later, McCumber made his mark as a course designer some 500 miles northwest of TPC Sawgrass in Dickson, Tenn., a small city less than 40 miles west of downtown Nashville. There he created Greystone Golf Club, a course that peaks at 6,858 yards and previously hosted the first stage of PGA Tour qualifying for multiple years during the early 2000s. Hilly and wide open off the tee, the course is accented by numerous scenic rock formations and offers players the chance to hit several drives from elevated teeing grounds.
Gaylord Springs Golf Links (Nashville)
Located less than two miles from the Grand Ole Opry, Gaylord Springs can often produce challenging rounds of golf, especially when the wind is blowing. The course’s staff describes the layout as “Scottish links-style,” which is an honest statement, at least insomuch as the site’s exposed nature is concerned. Fortunately, the course runs exclusively in a north-south direction, so players can easily gauge the direction of the wind as they make their way around the almost 7,000-yard layout. Conceived by three-time major champion Larry Nelson, Gaylord Springs is defined by holes that are carved along the banks of the Cumberland River, bordered by either limestone bluffs or penal wetlands.
Hermitage Golf Course (Old Hickory)
About a 25-minute drive northeast of downtown brings golfers to Old Hickory, a neighborhood of metropolitan Nashville home to the Hermitage Golf Course. The 36-hole facility began with a single championship course designed by Gary Roger Baird, General’s Retreat, that hosted an annual LPGA Tour event for more than a decade; however, Hermitage’s premiere layout today is President’s Reserve, a par-72 track designed by Denis Griffiths that plays about 7,200 yards from the tips and covers 300 acres along the banks of the Cumberland River. Most notably, the course features bunkers that suggest Griffiths found inspiration from the work of A.W. Tillinghast. In fact, the 2nd hole of President’s Reserve would fit right in amongst the 18 holes at Bethpage Black—perhaps Tillinghast’s most famous public course. The 628-yard par five introduces a forced carry over water and a second water hazard along the left side of the hole’s bisected fairway. Yet, the most dramatic tee shot on the course awaits golfers at the long par-four 13th, where players teeing it up from the back three boxes will be required to hit their drives over the river.
The Legacy (Springfield)
Raymond Floyd secured his 17th win on the PGA Tour in Memphis in 1982. He returned to the Volunteer State 14 years later to design The Legacy, a championship golf course that trundles over rolling hills and meanders throughout mature woodlands. The course opened the same year Tiger Woods debuted on the PGA Tour, and it’ll take a Tiger-like round if you’re looking to set a new course record there—those low rounds currently sit at 65, 60, and 63 (played from the club, tournament, and championship tees, respectively). A bevy of hazards deliver plenty of challenge, especially since the course is modest in length—it plays less than 6,800 yards from the tips. If you make it through the front nine mostly unscathed, you’ll be rewarded by a slightly easier inward stretch of holes, albeit one that still introduces plenty of hazards and requires golfers to hit several blind shots.
Have you played golf around Nashville? Tell us about your favorite courses in the comment section.