The Grove (not “The Grove Golf Club” or “The Grove Country Club”; just “The Grove”) is a private community located in the suburbs of Nashville.
Privacy is part of its appeal, as maintaining an every-blade-of-grass approach is one of its major selling points. That said, providing a challenging course for its best players is also emphasized (Greg Norman was the designer, after all). The club advertises “fairways kept at tour heights” and “greens rolling at US Open speeds.” The latter is a warning to those who might be overly aggressive when attacking birdie putts.
The course travels in two distinct loops between its front and back nines, wrapping around the housing development planned alongside the route. Both feature a combination of water hazards, provided by both manmade ponds as well as McCrory Creek, which flows vertically through the property.
If the water doesn’t spook you, the yardage might: The course plays more than 7,350 yards from the Norman tees. A significant chunk of that yardage comes at No. 11, a par five that plays nearly 630 yards from the back.
I do not like the Grove, so much so, I will not capitalize the. While it is located in middle TN, where we are known for our rolling hills, it is remarkably flat. I understand that river bottom is the cheapest/easiest land to convert to a golf course, but this was supposed to be an upper tier club. I am not a fan of Norman’s design work to begin with and this sealed the deal. As a rule, it has large greens with lots of undulation.
First hole is very welcoming. A small water hazard near the tee with no other trouble other than a scattering of trees on each side. The green is long and narrow. The 2nd is a reachable par five that leans right. Favor the right off the tee as there are four fairway bunkers on the left about 250 yards from the green. There is also a right fairway bunker about 115 yards out. The green is protected with two bunkers front left and two right. The 3rd is your standard Florida par three, long and all carry. The 4th is the shortest par four that is a slight dogleg right. Off the tee there are trees right that you will need to fly if you are cutting the corner. There is a fairway bunker on the right side about 80 yards out. Consider laying up, a decent drive gives you a flip wedge to the green that has bunker left and right. The 5th is the longest par three with two bunkers left. The front starts to get tougher starting at 6. A long par four with water all the way down the left side and two fairway bunkers right about 170 yards out. The green has water left and a bunker right. The 7th is a par five that bends right. There is a water hazard left off the tee. Favor the left side off the tee and aim at the left fairway bunker, from the tips it is about 300 yards. There is a stream on the right. I would advise playing it as a 3 shotter and aim your second shot at the left fairway bunkers to set up a flip wedge. The 8th bends a little right. Off the tee aim at the second from the right fairway bunker. Trust me the right one is reachable. The green has a small front bunker and one rear left. The front closes out with the number one handicap hole. Long with water left and right and a fairway bunker in the middle of the fairway about 180 yards out. I almost forgot mentioning the creek that crosses the fairway about 100 yards out.
The back starts with a par four that leans right and has two water hazards right. A good line off the tee are the two left fairway bunkers that start about 115 yards from the green. There are also two front right greenside bunkers. The 11th is the longest par five but very straight with a ginormus landing area for your drive. There are a few fairway bunkers scattered about. The one of interest is dead center and from the front of the bunker to the green is well over 300 yards. Play it as a three shotter. The 12th is a long par four, much tighter, runs parallel to 11 and uses some of the same fairway bunkers on the right side. The fairway runs out about 100 yards short of the green as a stream meanders across and there is also a front center greenside bunker. The 13th is a ho-hum par 3. The 14th is the shortest par four on the back side. It leans right and there is a water hazard down the left side. The fairway bunker right is about 170 yards out and the one left about 90. The Florida par 3 15th is the shortest hole and rated the easiest. The 16th is pretty straight forward, tree lined with no other hazards. However, the green is protected by trees on both sides, a stream and two bunkers. The 17th is a 500 yard par four. I am glad I don’t play the tips. The tee shot is out of a chute, but it does open up left. A creek cuts across the fairway about 160 yards out. A beast of a hole. The 18th is a reverse S par five and is reachable. There are four fairway bunkers left and you need to be right of them to give yourself a chance. There is an assortment of bunkers right but the green is nestled up to a water hazard left. I would only go for it if you have a green light lie.
Not a fan of the course, unimaginative and predictable. It is possible that Norman’s hand may have been tied by the developer. This is a high-end development with a very pedestrian golf course. Having said that when I have played it the conditions and the greens have been fantastic.
The Grove is a modern Greg Norman design located just southeast of the metro Nashville area. The course is set in a very high end housing development with some of the surrounding homes stretching in the multi-million dollar range. I just finished playing the course in the Tennessee Golf Association senior four ball tournament and I think it can be difficult to objectively evaluate a course when you are playing competitively versus playing for pure enjoyment. That being said I will try to give my honest assessment of the course as it presented.
On the positive side the course is in immaculate condition. The zoysia fairways were stunning and the Bermuda greens putted beautifully although at 12-13 on the stimp they were quite a challenge. However I found the overall design philosophy of the course to be quite frustrating and lacking any real imagination. The biggest problem is hat the course is routed through the flattest part of the property through bottom land dominated by creeks and wetlands. I assume this decision was forced on the designers to preserve the elevated parts of the property for home sites. The overall affect is that the course felt wet and “swampy” to me for lack of a better term. The only interesting flow to the land is on he first two holes, then after that the course is almost completely flat. What follows is a combination of flat holes that are usually bunkered on one side with a wetland lateral hazard on the other. However the flat terrain leads to the biggest problem with the layout. In order to add interest to the terrain almost every green is built up on a mound with massive 15-20 foot slopes running off the sides. The greens are quite big, but there is almost never a bail out or safe play. The internal contours of the green are quite severe, and with the grain of the Bermuda they were extremely hard to judge. I think the fact that I made it through 36 homes with only one 3 putt was the highlight of he tournament for me. In essence you have a large number of island greens. It was not unusual for a ball to land near the hole then pitch forward off the firm green and then run some 20 to 30 yards off the green, leaving a pitch up a sleep slope, often with the green running away from you.
There were a few interesting holes, especially the redan style par 3 fifth and the closing par 5 eighteenth is a nice risk-reward hole with a well placed hazard to the left and an adequate lay up are to the right.
This course is probably a good design for tournament play due to the precision required for both the long and short game, but I would find it hard to enjoy this course on a daily basis.