Donald Ross had already given Tennessee several gems, including Holston Hills and Chattanooga, but as his bibliography suggests, the Scot never stopped working. Very near to the end of his career, Ross returned to the Volunteer State for one last job during 1947 (less than a year prior to his death).
Although real estate has popped up over the years on the property’s higher plateau, the original showcase holes that trace the bank of the South Fork Holston River remain, beginning with No. 4, a lengthy par five that features a centerline bunker to challenge second shots, or No. 8, a dogleg right par four that follows the river’s curves as it wraps around the property.
It is a long way until the river reaches Ross’s most acclaimed course in the state (which shares its name with the body of water), but Ross fanatics should be sure to check out this gem, just across the Kentucky border.
Ridgefields is a lovely course in Kingsport, TN. It claims to be a Donald Ross design, however, the front nine opened the year he died and the back nine the subsequent year. Not long by today’s standards but a good test of golf.
The first hole is welcoming a left leaning par four. Favor the right side off the tee to avoid the bunkers on the inside elbow. The green has bunkers front right and left. The 2nd is a short par four birdie oppty. Favor the right side off the tee as the green is tucked left. I was blocked out on the left side and then proceeded to overcook the approach into the left greenside bunker. So much for birdie oppty. The fairway does run out at about 100 yards. The long straight away par 4 3rd is the number one handicap hole. Trees right and fairway bunkers left. The first par five is long and tight, tree lined right and the river left. Plus, fairway bunker left in the landing zone and two large cross bunkers about 150 yards out and finally two large greenside bunkers, one left and one right. A demanding par 5. The 5th is the first par three. It is mid-length with front greenside bunkers left and right. The 6th is a reachable par five. It has one of the biggest fairways on the course, couple of fairway bunkers left and the river is left, also. The 7th is the longest par three with two greenside bunkers. The 8th is a dogleg right with a fairway bunker on the outside elbow. The tee shot is out of a chute with trees right and woods left. There is a large narrow bunker right of the green and a dropoff left. The 9th is a tough par four. Long and tight, trees right and trees and river left. A stream bisects the fairway about 100 yards out and there are two tricky pot bunkers left of the green.
The back starts and ends with scoring holes. The 1oth is the shortest par four, but it is all about the drive. The tee box is way right, but tight left with trees immediately and then after approximately 100 yards right. There is OB left and right. A high draw is best, consider laying up. There is also a large bunker right front. The 11th is the easiest hole on the course and the shortest par five. It fades gently right and is easily reachable. Two fairway bunkers left and right about 75 yards out and left and right greenside. The 12th is my favorite hole and I did not even birdie it. On the card it appears to be a long par four, but it is downhill big time. The fairway runs out at about 90 yards out into a water hazard and the green it tucked left at an almost 90 degree angle. If you drive more than 250 yards, layup. There is OB left and a front greenside bunker. The 13th is an uphill mid-length par 3. Slight water carry and greenside bunker right. The 14th is the longest par four. The tee shot is out of a chute, but favor the right side. Also, there is a stream on the left side and greenside bunker left. Tough hole. The 15th is one of the more open holes, with a lot of driving area. Favor the right off the tee, there is only one bunker, left front. The last par five is reachable, but certainly not by me. It is tree-lined both sides, left is better. There are two fairway bunkers left around 150 yards out, as well as a large greenside one left. Without a doubt the last par 3 is the best as it was the only one I birdied. The 18th is a short par four, trees right and OB left. Favor the left off the tee as there is a fairway bunker right about 130 yards out. There are two greenside bunkers front right and left.
A good golf course that I would play again.