Founded in 1896 on the banks of the Tennessee
River, Chattanooga Golf & Country Club engaged Donald Ross in the early
1920s to set out the course that’s still in play today, albeit the modern day
layout was extensively renovated by Bill Bergin in 2005.
Extending to 6,694 yards from the back markers, the course plays to a par of 71, with only three par fives on the card at holes 4, 7 and 16. Configured with two returning nines, the layout’s outward half is routed in an anti-clockwise direction along the outside of the property with the inward half set out around a small housing estate in the middle.
Highlights at Chattanooga include the right doglegged par four 2nd, the run of riverside holes from the par five 7th to the par three 9th, short par fours at the 11th and 17th, and the par three closing hole where the home green sits adjacent to the recently renovated clubhouse.
Bill Bergin kindly supplied this exclusive comment regarding the new millennium renovation work carried out on the course:
“The club asked me to restore their golf course to what would feel like a 1920s Donald Ross course. It was not a pure restoration. We used an aerial from the 1940s to gather some information and then we modelled our bunker style after Worchester CC and Interlachen CC. We rebuilt all greens and bunkers, re-grassed all fairways and added numerous tees.
It was a major renovation with nothing of importance left untouched. The course was lengthened by about 300 yards from the back tees and shortened by about the same amount from the forward tees.
The course is only about 6700 yards long, but it has terrific yardage diversity. We have two par fours under 325 yards and four over 450 yards. We have a 128-yard par three and a 222-yarder.
The short 17th is a unique hole, playing over an old logging pit, and we have four holes playing along the Tennessee River. All of my courses ebb and flow between challenges and opportunities and Chattanooga is a perfect example of that philosophy.
Every time you play the course it feels and plays a bit differently.”
The CGCC is a private course and I was fortunate to get an opportunity to play. The staff was very accommodating and friendly. We played from the White tees which is just 6800 yard but rated at 124.
The course has it's challenges. There are some tight fairways, elevated greens, and bunkers just where they can catch errant tee and approach shots. The elevated greens add a particular challenge if that's not what you are used to.
The two nines both end with par 3 holes, somewhat unusual for modern layouts but this course was built in 1896. It is a Donald Ross design and according to the scorecard built 8 years after the first course in the USA.
If you have the opportunity to play, don't pass it up.
CGCC, founded in 1896, is an old Donald Ross positioned along the Tennessee river near downtown Chattanooga. Below are summary of some of the better holes.
1- One of the best opening holes anywhere. Downhill par 4 with bunkers on both sides of the fairway. Green can be deceivingly quick in certain pin positions. Every put breaks toward the river.
6- Par 4 that almost forces you to take driver out of your hand. Tee shot is a forced carry over a small valley. Most play it safe and hit hybrid or 3 wood off the tee. Green is one of the most difficult I've ever played. Green is almost turtle backed and every shot fired at the pin tend to roll into the short grass.
9- Beautiful uphill par 3. Hole plays very differently with each pin position. If you miss right, you're either hitting the work shed or the river. Green is two tiered and the pin can be difficult to located from the tee box. Par is always a good score here.
14- Straight away par 4. Fairway is shared with 12, only separated by a fairway bunker and a couple of tree's. Its in your best interest to land the ball on the left side of the fairway as balls tend to roll to the right. Balls landing on the right side of the fairway typically end up in the rough or worse, behind a tree. #14 has one of my all time favorite greens. Its somewhere between a thumbprint green and a double plateau. There is not a single bad pin position on this green.
15- Bowling Alley par 4. I'm including this hole in the review simply to say that there are two many trees. If there were half as many tree's it would make it a much better hole.
17- My favorite hole on the course. Uphill Par 4 with options off the tee. You'll see players hit anywhere from 4 iron to driver. No matter where you land in fairway you'll have a difficult and almost blind approach shot into the green. Long hitters may find themselves in deep valley below the green. This makes for a very difficult approach or recovery shot. Since the green speeds are always so fast, chip shots from the collection area behind the green are very difficult. Green has a lot of movement as it slopes from back to front.
Overall, CGCC is a fun and challenging course. A place that you'd have no problem playing everyday especially considering its a great course to walk. Most of the regular players walk and its very easy to find a game here anytime throughout the week. Conditioning is great year round and the green speeds are always fast. I should also mention that the faculties are pretty top notch. Fantastic locker with the possibly the best showers in the world. Feels like somebody is dumping buckets of hot water over your head. The showers and steam room might be worth the trip alone.
I would love to play this course regularly. As Steve mentioned, the opening hole is gorgeous. The layout plays along and near the river, which creates wildly shifting winds. We played on a beautiful October day in 2016, and the breeze was changing two or three times per hole near the river! These greens are beyond fast. I watched 3/4 players on the practice green putt OFF the surface, myself included.
I played Chattanooga Golf in May of 2018. Its a fantastic old Donald Ross track. THe clubhouse sits on top of the hill overlooking the river and is a sight to see in itself. The fun starts right off the bat with a great par 4 running along the river. Its a gorgeous opening tee shot from and elevated tee. Hole 2 starts the hard part, an accurate tee shot is required. The finishing holes on the front nine are gorgeous as they run along the river. The back nine also has some great finishing holes in 17 and 18. Some may feel its odd to finish with a par 3 but its such a good hole that its memorable. The greens were immaculate and FAST. This is a must if you are ever provided the opportunity.
Wonderful Donald Ross throwback course and club located right on the north bank of the Tennessee River. The first hole is fantastic. I am not a fan of 9 and / or 18 being par 3s. At Chattanooga CC they both are, regardless, well worth it.
Chattanooga is an old Ross design that lies in a bend of the Tennessee river just across the river from downtown Chattanooga. It is a great piece of land which is bisected by a steeply banked Creek which flows into the river. The river is also most definitely in play especially on holes 7-9. Ross did a great job of using the gentle rolling elevation changes of the property to create both interest and challenge. The renovation in 2005 was, in my opinion, outstanding. The course had struggled through an earlier renovation but this time they got it right. The fairway bunkering is superb and the greens have just the right amount of slope and speed to provide a challenge for any level golfer. There are some great holes here, especially the uphill par 3 9th with a redan like green and sharp drop off to the right down to the river. 12 is a strong par 4 with the approach being played over a steep bank down to the creek I mentioned earlier. The only hole I struggle with here is the 11th. This hole had been a par three but was changed to a short par 4 with a pond short and left. Unfortunately the only reasonable option for most players is a mid iron lay up and a wedge into the green. I think a long par 3 would be the better option here. I like this course and if I lived here I would be happy to be a member. I have played the course in state medal competitions including the State mid-am and I have found the course to be a great challenge but also great fun.