Ed. note: As GOLF’s chief photographer and visual editor, Christian Hafer visits some of the most gorgeous and exclusive golf courses in the world (and even some underrated gems). Here, in his Field Guide, he’ll take you along for the ride. Lucky for us, Christian never leaves home without his camera. Follow Christian Hafer on Instagram here.
The darling of the golf world is a nine-hole course with double-pinned greens just 30 miles west of Chattanooga, Tenn. Low in the valley sits nine holes with enough alternate-routing options to make your head spin. The low-key vibe is the draw at Sweetens Cove, a South Pittsburg, Tenn., track built by Rob Collins and crew in 2014. It started from a rough place but Collins, Patrick Boyd and a few other instrumental pillars kept the dream alive. And as the golf world started finding it, it blew up. Rightfully so.
Getting to the course is easy from Chattanooga or Nashville, but lodging is limited. So is local cuisine. But we’re here for the golf, not the fish. You can purchase an all-day pass like a ski resort, but be warned, they sell out fast. Play as much as you want and, honestly, from pretty much wherever you want. All-day walking rates are $90 during the week and $100 on the weekend.
The greens at Sweetens are massive and their slope is no joke, allowing unlimited options for diabolical pin locations. The bunkering is rugged, mean and interesting. Some even have names (my favorite: Tupac). Shift tees as you please. Play the front or the back. On slower days play an alternate routing (the guys in the shed know them all, and some options are floating around on social media).
In perfect harmony with the club’s aesthetic, there’s no gaudy clubhouse. There is a shed. It even has AC now. It’s all an upgrade from the tent. (Imagine, being such a golf madman, that you hang out on a course all day with no cover other than a tent?) Don’t sell the shed short, though, it’s stocked with some of best merch in golf.
If in need of a break between marathon loops, a new covered area and fire pit now overlook the course. Hungry? Order Domino’s. Seriously. It’s just three miles down the road, and it delivers. You can have your plush halfway houses, I’ll take a double pepperoni and push cart all day.