Dick Wilson has never been noted for the forgiving nature of his golf courses, and the deep fairway and greenside hazards at Hillwood Country Club are no exception. The course features significant bunkering, along with numerous fairway creek crossings.
Hillwood takes the fidelity of these hazards seriously, having brought in Bruce Hepner on multiple occasions to conduct renovations at the course. The result is the cornerstone of one of Nashville’s most sought-after memberships.
The course’s other founding architect, Eldridge “Bubber” Johnson, may have had more interest in fun, however. Although he’s best known for serving as vice president of the PGA and led the founding of the Tennessee chapter of the PGA, he also served as first head pro at Disney World’s original golf course.
Hillwood is an excellent parkland golf course in Nashville. An interesting design note are the five par threes and five par fives. A rule of thumb, putts break towards the $$$. This is referring to Nashville’s old money neighborhood, Belle Meade. They like quick greens at Hillwood.
The first hole is welcoming with a twist, there is a diagonal water hazard starting about 150 yards out on the left. Favor the right off the tee. The green has four bunkers right and one front left. The second is the longest par three. The guitar pick green has two bunkers right and one front left. The 3rd is the long par five and what you see is what you get. Straightaway with OB left and tree lined both sides. There are the prerequisite fairway bunkers, 4 greenside bunkers left and two right. Not deserving of the number one handicap designation in my opinion. The fourth hole is the longest par four. Tough hole dogleg left. Favor the right off the tee or risk being blocked out. The green has two bunkers right. To me this is a much more difficult hole than the third. The 5th offers a respite, a mid-length par three with two bunkers left and two right. My favorite hole is the left leaning par five 6th. Surprisingly, I do not think I have ever birdied it, but it seems to favor my hooker’s eye. There is OB left and a few trees right. The real trouble starts at about 140 yards out. With a water hazard left, thru and behind the green. There are also two right greenside bunkers. The 7th leans right and is tree-lined both sides with a large bunker front right. The 8th is a long par four with trees both sides. There is a water hazard left that starts about 140 yards out along with a front left bunker. The 9th bends a bit to the right, favor left of center off the tee. The green has four bunkers front right.
The back starts with the shortest par four and bends left. The bunker complex starts about 75 yards out from the green. Consider laying up to your preferred wedge yardage. Good birdie oppty. The 11th is rated the third easiest hole on the course. A mid-length par three with a solitary bunker front left. The 12th is a par five that leans left, OB left with the fairway bunkers left as well. Favor the right off the tee the green has three bunkers right. Three average shots and you should be putting for birdie. I like this hole but it is not worthy of the number two handicap designation. The 13th is a good birdie oppty. Pretty straight with OB left but fairway bunkers squeeze the fairway at about 140 yards out on the right and then closer on the left. There are three large bunkers left of the green. The 14th is the easiest hole with four bunkers on the left side and one right. The 15th is the longest and doglegs left. There are no bunkers on this hole, it is tree lined, and contours left. The equalizer is the ball hungry creek running down the left side just about the whole way. The 16th is a mid-length par three with three bunkers right. The 17th is the last par five is a big bender right and essentially parallels the 15th. Favor the left off the tee. The creek snakes across the fairway starting at about 150 yards out on the right side and closer on the left. Consider an extra club on the uphill approach to a green that is protected with three bunkers. The home hole is a long par four with staggered fairway bunkers on both sides with the right bunkers starting about 200 yards out. The green is protected with three bunkers left.
An excellent course that I enjoy playing.