In 1971, astronaut Alan Shepard captured the world’s attention when he golfed on the moon. For your own out-of-this-world experience, you need to go no farther than the Great Smoky Mountains. These mountain communities in NC and GA have become home to some of the best golfing in the country. There are over a hundred places to choose from, but here are the courses you can’t miss.
Owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the Sequoyah National Golf Club with its surrounding vistas of the NC Great Smoky Mountains is far and away one of the most beautiful locations in the country to play 18 holes. Designed by the Robert Trent Jones II, whose vision celebrates the cultural and historical legacy of the land before a single stone is moved, this course is meant to live in one’s memory long after being played.
Located in Cherokee County and close to Bryson City, NC, the course itself is a par 72 championship course measuring 6,600 yards of immaculately groomed, bent-grass greens with bluegrass fairways. Open year-round, the Sequoyah National Golf Club also features an impressive practice area with putting greens, a driving range, a chipping area, and Callaway Golf Club fitting by certified PGA Golf Professionals. Shop the full range of men’s and women’s apparel in the golf shop and then enjoy a relaxing drink or lunch on the outdoor deck while you marvel at the magnificent mountain views in every direction. Check out more information at Sequoyah National.
Located just over the NC border in Sky Valley, GA, the Sky Valley Country Club is an impeccably maintained course of bent grass on both the greens and fairways. With multiple tee box locations, all skill levels will be challenged on this 18-hole championship golf course.
The semi-private course, open to members, guests, and the general public, offers a complete practice facility with a driving range, putting green, and lessons from PGA Professional Steve Heher. You can also practice your stroke with their Full Swing golf simulator before heading out to the links.
The elevation of the Sky Valley Country Club is approximately 3,500 feet in the Georgia Mountains, meaning that even in the middle of August, you can enjoy the cool mountain air as you tee off. Plan to include lunch at the outstanding rooftop restaurant, The Turn, or keep cool in the onsite open-air pavilion or outdoor park. Sky Valley is also an ideal venue for weddings, corporate events, business meetings, and parties. Visit Sky Valley Country Club for more information.
Mountain Harbor Golf Club
Only 4 miles from the town center of Hayesville in Clay County, NC, the Mountain Harbor Golf Club is open to the public and highly recommended for both the challenging course and stunning scenery. Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this course features 6,561 yards of golf from the longest tee with a 70 par. Designed by Willard C. Byrd, ASGSA/®Ben Wright, the 18-hole course gets rave reviews from enthusiasts about its pristine and well-maintained conditions, even in the middle of February!
Of special note, the prices for a round of golf are amongst the most reasonable for this area, especially for the quality of the course and its interesting holes.
Sapphire Mountain Golf Course
Your Great Smoky Mountain golf vacation would not be complete without a visit to the Sapphire Mountain Golf Course in Jackson County, NC. With 6,147 yards of golf from the longest tee, you’re looking at a 70 par. This public 18-hole championship course with a 70 par was designed by Ron Garl and features bent grass on the tees, fairways, and greens. Surrounded by scenic mountain views and lush forests, this course makes it’s impossible to have a bad day on the links. Especially as you transition to the back 9 with its water features and pictorial bunkers. After the round, relax with a cold brew and wood-fired pizza from Sapphire Brewing Company.
Insider Tip: you can play here without an inclusive hotel stay, a rare find in the Highlands, NC area.
Maggie Valley Club and Resort
Maggie Valley in Haywood County, NC, offers some of the most unique vacation experiences in the Great Smoky Mountains and is close to everything. With a myriad of golfing opportunities to choose from, you will want to include the Maggie Valley Club and Resort on your list of golf vacations. It offers an 18-hole golfing experience, which is divided into the “Valley Nine” and the “Mountain Nine.” The “Valley Nine” will get you warmed up before you hit the “Mountain Nine,” with an 800-foot rise in elevation and increased difficulty.
The resort offers a variety of packages that include your stay in a posh condominium and tickets to nearby attractions, including the Biltmore Estate in Asheville and Maggie Valley’s own Cataloochee Ranch for a superb horse-riding adventure.
Challenge Golf Club
The Challenge Golf Club in Graham, NC is an 18-hole, public course spreading across 6,935 yards with a par of 72. It features Bermuda Grass, known for its time-tested use in warmer climates and providing a course that withstands heat, can be mowed low, and is drought resistant, making for the perfect golfing grass. This course was designed by Barry Brantly and consistently has been named in the Top 100 Courses in North Carolina. The Challenge winds along some of the most picturesque views of the Haw River and features vistas normally only seen in golfing calendars. Even seasoned golfers will be challenged by the expert shot-making required to complete this course, but all skill levels of golfers will find it to be playable. The club’s amenities include a clubhouse and swimming pool to cool off after your game.
There is no shortage of golf courses in the Great Smoky Mountains just waiting for you to tee off. Whether you plan to stay at an upscale golf resort or just play for the day, these courses welcome and challenge you to some of the best, most interesting and scenic mountain courses you will find. Alan Shepard would approve!