By Ken Mink
Is the small town of Crossville, Tn., the “Golf Capital of Tennessee”?
Yes, says the town’s Chamber of Commerce, which has laid claim to the title for years.
But facts show this is an audacious title at best.
The East Tennessee town of about 10,600 and its surrounding Cumberland County has nine golf courses, including five at the resort community of Fairfield Glade.
But there are many other communities with more extensive golf facilities, none of which claim to be the “Golf Capital of Tennessee.”
The impartial and respected golf site called Golf Link says, in fact, here is the listing of the top 20 golf locations in Tennessee:
1. Memphis Golf Courses
2. Knoxville Golf Courses
3. Nashville Golf Courses
4. Chattanooga Golf Courses
5. Crossville Golf Courses
6. Franklin Golf Courses
7. Clarksville Golf Courses
8. Cookeville Golf Courses
9. Greeneville Golf Courses
10. Jackson Golf Courses
11. Kingsport Golf Courses
12. Murfreesboro Golf Courses
13. Bristol Golf Courses
14. Cleveland Golf Courses
15. Gallatin Golf Courses
16. Lenoir City Golf Courses
17. Loudon Golf Courses
18. Brentwood Golf Courses
19. Athens Golf Courses
20. Lebanon Golf Courses
But, braggadocio aside, the Crossville area does have some worthwhile golf courses.
The Fairfield Glade courses are nice layouts, but at up to $85 a round are a bit too tough on the pocketbook for the average Joe.
And, the quality of such courses as The Bear Trace at Cumberland Mountain and Lake Tansi are courses which have been rated among the top 10 in the state (indeed, Bear Trace at one time was rated No. 1 in the state by Golf Digest).
And the area has a golf course which has one of the most interesting holes in the country.
The third hole at River Run has an island green of 70 yards, with an elevated tee. The par 3 hole is captivating because it is surrounded by a pond which looks just like it was the scene of the 1954 movie “The Creature From the Black Lagoon,” with its water as black as the devil’s cloak. And its tiny green is big enough to only hold about four VWs and a Chevy mini-van. Further adding to its uniqueness is that the hole is reached only via a small swinging bridge which sways like a bucking bronco when crossing..
After plunking two tee shots into its murky depths I dropped a ball a few feet off the green and chipped it in. Easy hole.
A heavy thunderstorm looking like the sister of Hurricane Katrina interrupted our foursome at that point and we saw no more of River Run. But at $20 a round it is well worth a visit, if for nothing else a chance to play a most interesting hole.
Another interesting Crossville area course is Lake Tansi, a short layout with a senior- enticing 10 par 4s under 360 yards. Well manicured fairways and greens make this a great location for short-knockers, but is still a good test from its back tees. And the modest green fees make this a popular course. One of the great things is that each Tansi golf cart comes with a full-color attached book providing full color maps and details (including suggestions about how to play each hole). It’s not GPS, but it’s great.
.Down the road is the Jack Nicklaus course The Bear Trace at Cumberland Mountain, a scenic layout with first-class facilities worthy of its high ranking.
And nearby is the Cumberland Mountain State Park with its great Harvest dining buffet.
After enjoying the meats and veggies I finally got around to the piece de resistance: The restaurant’s legendary banana pudding.
It had been sitting there all along, with its curlicue meringue waving to me like ocean whitecaps. I got my first full serving and sat down like a crown prince preparing to enjoy a royal repast. My first bite awakened my taste buds and they immediately burst into a celebratory dance. The flavor frenzy continued through two more servings before I finally called it a day, Way too much of a good thing, the best banana pudding this side of my wife Emilia’s kitchen (and that is indeed a very high compliment).
It you are playing golf in the Crossville area you must check out the park dining room for a dining experience of a lifetime.
For more information about these golf courses and state park: