I’m what you’d call a recreational golfer, which essentially means I enjoy playing a round whenever I can, but I wouldn’t share my scorecard with anyone.

My husband is an avid golfer. He’ll keep that scorecard around for a while, especially when it’s a good one.  He’ll hold on to memories of games past even longer. How he can recall his score on any given hole on a course we haven’t played since oh, say, 1998, is nothing short of a marvel to me. I can only hope that I remember to pick up my wedge from a green and return it to my bag.

We knew finding a course on which to live and play, one that suited our different skill levels and offered a friendly, non-intimidating atmosphere (high on my list of must-haves), wouldn’t be as easy as a two-inch putt. We shopped around. We played a variety of courses, from the over-the-top tough to the quaint-but-not-well-maintained; and we paid particular attention both to the service we were provided and the general vibe.

Tucked-Away Gem

 Woodlake has been honored by the readers of Tennessee Magazine as the best golf course in East Tennessee for three consecutive years.

Woodlake has been honored by the readers of Tennessee Magazine as the best golf course in East Tennessee for three consecutive years.

We found our best fit at Woodlake Lodge, Golf & Country Club, where the beautiful, well-groomed mountain course challenges both of us to improve our games, but in an easy-going setting that lets us truly enjoy every round.

We’re not the only ones to have found this gem of a course. For the third consecutive year, readers of Tennessee Magazine have chosen Woodlake as the best golf course in East Tennessee.

The 2016 honor comes as no surprise to golfers from near and far who choose to hit the links at Woodlake. Since being named by Golf Digest as one of America’s best new courses in 2000, the Woodlake course has grown in popularity among avid and recreational golfers alike. GolfAdvisor.com reviewers give the course a top, five-star rating.

Woodlake’s public course, designed by Chip Powell and Ed Connor, opened in 1999.  Featuring expertly manicured bent grass greens and Bermuda fairways, the scenic, par 72 course offers 6,842 yards of hill-strewn golf from its longest tees. (Not to worry, ladies like me; the women's tees are well placed.)

 The Woodlake course is surrounded by natural beauty. 

The Woodlake course is surrounded by natural beauty. 

Picture Perfect

When I play Woodlake, I find myself stealing moments to gaze at the natural beauty surrounding me. There’s the lush green of the fairways, framed by deep wooded stretches; the misty blue-green hue rising to the top of Lone Mountain, offering Woodlake’s signature view; and the deep cobalt of Norris Lake, along which several holes meander. I might spy deer near a green at dusk or perhaps an elusive bobcat or lynx at the next tee box, wending its way to a nearby den. I take in the peace of it all, the quiet that encircles me and centers me in my game (broken only occasionally by a hoot from my husband when I manage to pull off a particularly good shot).

At the clubhouse, I feel welcomed and supported — a far cry from the many courses I’ve played where I’ve felt more golf imposter than valued guest. Whether you’re a visitor or club member, at Woodlake your cart will always be ready and your sign-in quick and easy. Without fail, you’ll be greeted with genuine smiles and charming hospitality in the pro shop, grill room, lounge and onsite steakhouse.

 In the Woodlake pro shop, you'll always be greeted with a friendly smile.

In the Woodlake pro shop, you'll always be greeted with a friendly smile.

Get Out There!

With typically mild East Tennessee winters, golf is played year round at Woodlake, although I prefer to take a short hiatus. In mid-February, signs of spring are popping along the course — my signal that it’s time to feel the grips of my clubs in my hands again, stand comfortably at the tee box taking in the spectacular views, and wander through peaceful woods looking for my ball.

Who knows, though? Maybe this golf season will be my best yet, and I can proudly showcase my scorecard for all to see — or at least tack it to my refrigerator as a reminder of another round well enjoyed.

Could Woodlake be a good fit for you? Find out with an affordable Discovery Package.

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