Harrison Bay was the second of three Jack Nicklaus-designed Bear Trace courses to open and it’s one of nine layouts in the Tennessee Golf Trail portfolio which are managed by Tennessee State Park.
I was able to play Bear Trace at Harrison Bay in the Tennessee senior match play championship. This was the first time I had played here even though I live less than 100 miles up the interstate in Knoxville. I thought Bear Trace was a very nice layout. The Nicklaus design team did a good job of routing the course through some rolling terrain. There is a good mix of long and short par 4’s and holes flow both left to right as well as right to left. I thought the par 5 holes were quite well designed with some well placed cross bunkering on several of the holes that called for a good deal of strategic thinking. The front nine is fairly tight off the tee but he course opens up a bit on the back nine. The greens were in excellent condition and overall were not too severe. As a tournament venue the course held up well. Both the senior and super senior (over age 65) champions are among the best players of their age in the USA. I probably subtracted half a point because the conditioning was not that great. The bunkers in particular could use some love and attention. Overall I think this is an excellent daily fee course and next to Sweetens Cove and Sewanee it is probably the best public course in the eastern part of the state.