Lookout Mountain didn’t need much help generating golf course credibility; a Seth Raynor design at your peak will do that. Although the mountain’s title club may be among the most acclaimed routes in the state, it seems that Rees Jones and Bill Bergin’s McLemore Club Highlands Course may offer the more impressive views.
Discussion of the course begin, understandably, with its jaw-dropping No. 18 hole. Many courses will challenge players with lakes that run along the entire length of the final hole; Jones and Bergin raised the stakes by providing a different sort of hazard during this 440-yarder: Balls that go left will be in for a long fall, down the sheer side of the mountain. And the distracting views the hole provides may result in many more shots heading off target than would be expected otherwise.
The club openly acknowledges that adapting a golf course to such a turbulent piece of property is challenging, and has taken a “work-in-progress” approach, planning quick renovations to adapt the terrain into a more playable route in the course’s opening years.
Above (edit: Among) the Clouds: Have you ever seen a geological feature and thought: "Yeah, that would be a good place for a golf course"? McLemore is a gorgeous mountain track that crescendos into a vertigo inducing 18th hole.
As you might expect from any good course set in the Appalachian chain, elevation is used to protect par. Virtually nothing is level, and even though you know a significant amount of dirt and rock had to be moved, it feels somehow natural. The Par 5 6th probably best embodies the character of the course. From the tee box it looked like a beautiful but benign green light hole. But when we down the fairway we could see the green, in range to get on in two, but around 100ft below us. I played the course twice and I still have no idea what the best option is there. As photogenic as the 18th is, there are numerous holes worthy of McLemore's signature
I couldn't recommend this course enough. We got out on a quasi "member for a day" package and the fee was comparable to higher tier courses. Just make sure you go on a clear day because it began to rain during second round. And even though their slogan is "Above the Clouds", we were very much in them in the late afternoon.