Hitting the links can be a great way to spend a leisurely day in the Smoky Mountains, but unfortunately, the local options aren’t exactly plentiful. Yes, there’s a lot of mini golf in the area — but when you want the real deal, you can expect to stick with a few tried-and-tested locations. Thankfully, there’s a longtime favorite in Gatlinburg that promises a good time, no matter your skill level: Bent Creek Golf Course
Designed by Masters and British Open victor Gary Player, this par 72 course opened over five decades ago and remains a hit to this day. It blends the best of the local valley and mountain landscapes while providing a unique experience that can simultaneously feel challenging and relaxing.
Don’t visit expecting country club conditions because if you do, you’re bound to be disappointed. The course can be rough at times, which adds plenty of challenges where it might not be expected.
Other challenges are purposefully built into the experience. Water hazards, for example, abound, in part because a creek winds through the course. The back nine are by far the most rigorous, making up for the gentle feel of the front nine. Be prepared for elevation changes and plenty of sand traps.
What this course lacks in finesse it more than makes up for in serenity. It’s a quiet location and boasts spectacular scenery. Crowds are rarely a problem, so this is definitely the place to go if you prefer to enjoy your golfing experience at a slower pace.
The rough-around-the-edges appeal extends beyond the green to the clubhouse. Many of the features and decor are older, but therein lies the charm. It feels more casual than your average golf course and that’s exactly what regulars appreciate about it. This is where you head when you want to truly relax.
When you crave a golfing expedition, don’t let the limited golf scene of the Smoky Mountains get you down — head to Bent Creek Golf Course for a leisurely outing that feels true to Gatlinburg’s unique vibes.
-Tee times are easy to book online, with options available for nine or eighteen holes. To do so, however, you may need to create an online account with Chronogolf.
-Bring bug spray, as the gnats have been known to annoy golfers at times. This is one of the most common complaints about the course, although not all visitors agree that the bugs are particularly bad.
-Set aside plenty of time for your golfing adventure, as the pace of play tends to be slower than expected at this particular location. This is great news if you prefer a leisurely experience but may be frustrating if you’re accustomed to a faster game.
-Some visitors believe that this course is difficult to access. It is certainly remote, so drive time must be built into your itinerary unless you stay at one of the resorts or cabins on the outskirts of town. It is this remote location, however, that makes the course so peaceful, and for many visitors, this is a worthy trade.