Chattanooga is a city surrounded by historic golf on both sides of the Tennessee/Georgia border, whether that’s Golden Age classics such as Donald Ross’s Chattanooga Golf & Country Club or Seth Raynor’s Lookout Mountain (in Georgia, right across the border), to more modern classics such as Pete Dye’s Honors Course.
The founders at Council Fire Golf Club must have realized they needed to make an immediate impact if they were to compete, and so they did not wait too long after Bob Cupp signed on before they committed to a PGA event. Council Fire opened its doors during March of 1992 and hosted The Chattanooga Classic that July (won by Mark Carnevale).
One bit of trivia: This is a rare course in that it winds across multiple states (one other example is the course at Edgewood Tahoe, mostly in Nevada). We added Council Fire to our Tennessee rankings because the club is affiliated to the Tennessee Golf Association and the clubhouse sits within the Volunteer State.
This is one of the top private clubs in the Chattanooga area. The course was in excellent condition, the greens fast and true, and the layout provided a variety of hole type. But what I really liked was that you will stand on the tee on almost every hole and you can see what you need to do as a golfer to get from tee to green. No tricky doglegs, no stubbornly blind tee shots required. As a matter of fact, most of the tees are elevated giving you and even better look at the hole. Also, the holes are not tricked up. By that I mean there are no forced carries, few sand traps just where you will hit your shot, and other features meant to add difficulty but seem to just add to your frustration. Certainly, there are fairway bunkers and some greens are nicely guarded but you can see them all and can plan (execution is quite another thing). Like most southern gold coirses, the rough is bermuda so it can gobble up an errant shot but it is not penal as a design just the nature of the grass. Most of the greens have gentle slopes but a few are roller coasters and local knowledge on where to hit it going in is help (again, execution on that knowledge is another thing). All in all, if you have a chance to play, please do. It is a very nice course.
Council Fire is a Bob Cupp design with most of it in Chattanooga, TN. The first is a short welcoming par four. While there is a fairway bunker right the right side will provide the best attack angle with greenside bunkers back right and front left. The 2nd is a short par five dogleg right around a large water hazard. Reachable in two but be careful to negotiate the two bunkers front left. The 3rd is a short downhill par four that bends right. Off the tee aim at the fairway bunkers on the left side. You do not want to get blocked out by the %*&$^$ tree on the right. A decent drive will leave you with an attack iron to an elevated green with three bunkers in the front. Good birdie hole. The first par three is the longest with two bunkers left. The fifth is a good birdie oppty it bends right with a fairway bunker in the landing area. A decent drive just left of the bunker will set you up to go pin seeking. The 6th is the longest par 5 and is a reverse S. Favor the left off the tee. For your second shot you may want to take an extra club to ensure you are past the large tree on the left near the creek. This will leave you with an attack iron. The 7th is the shortest hole on the course to a raised green with bunkers protecting the right side. The 8th is a long par four, favor the right off the tee. There is a fairway bunker left, but this is one of the more generous fairways. The 9th is another long par four, but the tee shot is out of a chute with fairway bunkers right. The green is protected by a large front bunker.
The back starts with the longest par four. While there are no hazards the approach is uphill. Good luck. The 11th is a quasi-reachable par five from an elevated tee with fairway bunkers right. For us mortals the cross bunkers will give us pause to think. Don’t overthink it. Play it as a three shotter and choose your favorite yardage. The 12th is a mid-distance forgettable par 3. The 13th is my favorite hole, a big swinging left par five with a water hazard on the inside elbow. Aim at the fairway bunker in the distance. Don’t get crazy on the second shot, play for your favorite yardage. While there are three bunkers left of the green, they are only there for affect. Yes, I birdied. The 14th is a mid-range par three and is rated the easiest hole on the course. The 15th is a long par four that leans right. Favor the right off the tee. The green is raised and protected by bunkers on both sides. Deservedly, the number two handicap hole. The 16th is another long difficult par four. It bears left so favor the right off the tee. The green is raised above the creek and there are two bunkers left. The 17th is a long uphill par three with death left. The 18th is a good finishing hole. It is reachable favor the left side, even though that bring s the tree lined creek into play and fairway bunkers. There is a collection of five bunkers front left. Good risk reward hole.
I would play it again