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Best Public Golf Courses in Knoxville, Tennessee

Best Public Golf Courses in Knoxville, Tennessee

Knoxville, Tennessee has some of the most diverse golfers and golf courses in the country, all within a convenient drive of one another. The best public golf courses around the city all have something unique to offer to players of every skill level. 

If you’re in search of fantastic mountain views, exceptional terrain change, or a simple, affordable experience, you can find it in Knoxville. 

Willow Creek Golf Club 

Located deep in the heart of Farragut, TN, Willow Creek is by all measures a nice place to play golf. I would guess that the majority of local players would consider this golf course the best public golf course in Knox County. Personally, I wouldn’t put it at the top of my list, but it is without a doubt a great course.

Willow Creek sits on the crest of a small hill from which players tee off. It has few instances of major elevation change. Holes are generally cramped together, but they are extremely well kept and colorful.

Here you will find middle to upper-middle-class players of various skill levels. Willow Creek is one of the more serious courses on this list when it comes to etiquette, but they generally welcome everyone with sufficient dress and manners.

Expect to pay $60 on the weekends.

Three Ridges Golf Course

The name itself describes everything you need to know about this course  Nestled on a North Knoxville ridge, Three Ridges exposes a mind-altering view of House Mountain, valleys, and mountains as far off as the Smokies.

If walking courses is your preference, then I would not recommend playing here, due to the massive elevation changes throughout the course. Most of the time, you find yourself in a troubling lie. However, to those like me, uneven lies and terrain are part of the beauty of a golf course. That is until you check your scorecard afterward.

While I enjoy spending time up on the ridge, my father did not. He always complained about the firmness of the greens and the inability to get shots to stick on approach.

Expect to pay $50 on the weekend.

Dead Horse Lake Golf Course

A staple of the West Knoxville community for over 50 years, Dead Horse Lake is simply a great solid course. Well-designed holes mesh together with a giant lake to form a proper golfing experience for golfers of all ages and skill levels.

Dead Horse has a great family atmosphere for a public course and a sufficient practice area including a driving range and putting green. You will find average golfers that enjoy spending time with others on a suitable course.

The 3rd hole wraps around the infamous “Dead Horse Lake”, the course's namesake. The hole forces golfers to either carry their first shot 260 yards over the lake or lay up for two short shots in a row. If you miss, your ball might end up resting next to a horse at the bottom of the lake, according to the story.

Expect to pay $50 on the weekend.

Williams Creek Golf Course

Disclaimer: This is a par 3 golf course. 

With that being said, Williams Creek is one of the most beautiful courses around. Pinned in between residential neighborhoods with downtown Knoxville looming close by, this public golf course can be a great getaway that is only a stone’s throw away. 

Proper elevation changes weave around the natural forest, up and down, smoothly leaving the clubhouse, then gradually returning to the clubhouse. 

Williams Creek has an amazing junior golfer population, so if you want to bring your kid along or find lessons, then this is a great place to start. Complete with driving range and putting green, you won’t need to look further for a short relaxing experience at this par 3.

Knoxville Municipal Golf Course

Knoxville Municipal is a course that welcomes all types and skill levels of golfers. They are a little more relaxed on dress code than the other courses on this list, but that doesn't mean the golf follows suit.

This course has one of my favorite starting holes and one of my favorite finishing holes. Hole 1 starts at the clubhouse, on a large hill facing downhill to the fairway beyond water. The tee box is set up to where everyone can see you tee off. If you shank one, everyone notices–from the people waiting behind you, at the clubhouse, in the parking lot, or even on the putting green. So maybe it shouldn’t be a favorite of mine. But when you hit a screamer down the middle, there is little that can touch that feeling of pride.

Hole 18 is just a simple hole that bends while smoothly losing elevation back to the clubhouse. There’s something about the design that attracts me. I honestly think I could say that about a lot of the holes at Knoxville Municipal. If anything, they are unique and entertaining. 

Expect to pay $35 on the weekend. 

Whittle Springs Golf Course

Today, Whittle Springs Golf Course is a below-average golf course in the grand scheme of things, but I love it. I am no doubt filled with the nostalgia of learning how to play the game here and considering it my home course for most of my life. 

In a past life, Whittle Springs was once part of a great resort where the likes of Ben Hogan would visit, but now it has been relegated to simply a local novelty where the Knoxville City Amateur tournament is still held to this day. 

Unfortunately, the pro shop is small and limited, and so is the putting green and driving range. It has been tough to keep the course looking good in past years, and the course layout is cramped due to the lack of acreage they had to work with. 

More so than any other place in Knoxville, you will find a bunch of characters on this course. One day you will see tank tops and sandals, others full dress code and etiquette. Some days it will be too crowded to play and other times a ghost town. 

If anything, Whittle Springs shares a unique character with the local golfers that frequent it. When you head to Whittles, don’t take it too seriously and just enjoy being there. 

Expect to pay $30 on the weekend.

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