University of the South students, staff (and members of the public) have enjoyed The Course at Sewanee for over 100 years and this highly regarded 9-hole layout re-opened in 2013 after a 2-year renovation by Gil Hanse.
The course was originally designed by Albion W. Knight, the religious minister at Sewanee. He had no design experience, of course, but with a team of mules and the assistance of the school football team, a 9-hole course opened for play in 1915.
Almost a century later, a group of Sewanee graduates raised a reported $3.5 million before hiring Gil Hanse to completely redesign the layout, which involved constructing nine new green complexes, adding bunkers and removing trees.
Multiple tees on every hole allow the nine holes to be played twice with different yardages on every hole. Some holes play to different pars second time around. For instance, #1 is rated a 461-yard par four and #9 a 513-yard par five but they’re played as a 556-yard par five and 456-yard par four on the second nine.
The Course at Sewanee dates back to 1915 and was redone by Gil Hanse. It is a 9 hole layout that utilizes different tees to create a different look and feel. The first hole plays as a long par 4 and as the tenth hole a par 5. The second shot is blind and there is a huge waste area on the right. The green sits on a ledge with a large bunker in front. The 2nd and 11th both play as a valley par five. A brook dissects the fairway with fairway bunkers on both sides. Tight hole. The 3rd and 12th is a par three with an infinity green with a lovely view. Pay attention to the task at hand as the left side of the green is surrounded by four bunkers. The 4th and 13th is a fun driveable par four. It has trees and bunkers where they need to be to ensure bad shots are not rewarded. Additionally, the green sits on a plateau peninsula with dropoff left and a collection of bunkers right. The 5th and 14th is played as a par 3, 210 yards for the 5th and 165 for the 14th. A small water carry and a nice view behind the green. The 6th and 15th is a dogleg left and has a significant contour right to left. Favor the right side off the tee. The 7th and 16th have multiple valleys along with the requisite fairway bunkers scattered about. However, the valley in front of the green has a voracious appetite for shots that didn’t quite get there. The 8th and 17th is a short par four that is a knockoff of the Principal’s Nose. Sewanee makes no bones about it and this hole is called, “The Bishops Nose’. Club selection on the approach is as this green is surrounded by 5 bunkers. The 9th plays as a par five and the 18th a par four. Tough finishing hole with moguls and fairway bunkers. Probably should take an extra club as the green is elevated, well protected , wide but not deep.
A fun course that I would pay to play again. While Sweetens Cove seems to get all the pub, I encourage you all to play them both and decide for yourself.
I played Sewanee in May of 2018 on the same trip that we played Sweetens Cove. I enjoyed both courses but if I had to pick one, I'd give the slight edge to Sewanee. Gil Hanse did a fantastic job in making a really fun nine hole golf course which has different sets of tees to make a round of 18 feel like you are playing a different course at times which was really unique. The condition was very good for a course of this cost open to the public. The scenery was amazing and this course is a must stop on any golf trip in TN. You will really enjoy yourself.