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Golf Course Review - Black Creek Club
By Phil Sokol - Director of Operations (TSN)

1 - Par 4 421 Yds
2 - Par 4 427 Yds
3 - Par 3 165 Yds
4 - Par 5 586 Yds
5 - Par 4 374 Yds
6 - Par 5 559 Yds
7 - Par 3 239 Yds
8 - Par 4 392 Yds
9 - Par 4 431 Yds
10 - Par 4 360 Yds
11 - Par 3 195 Yds
12 - Par 4 458 Yds
13 - Par 4 485 Yds
14 - Par 5 526 Yds
15 - Par 4 347 Yds
16 - Par 4 446 Yds
17 - Par 3 206 Yds
18 - Par 5 532 Yds
Par 36 3,594 Yds Par 36 3,555 Yds
Course Architect:  Brian Silva
Year Opened: 2000
Location: Chattanooga, Tennessee
Slope: 137   Rating: 74.3
Par: 72
Yardage: 7,149
Key Events Held:
 Chattanooga Classic (Nationwide Tour) (2003-present),
 Tennessee Golf Association Four-Ball Championships (2001-02),
 Tennessee State Amateur (2006)
Awards Won:
 #8 Best in State - Tennessee (Golf Digest, 2003)
 #7 Best in State - Tennessee (Golf Digest, 2005)
 #9 Best in State - Tennessee (Golf Digest, 2007-10)
 #97 Top 100 Modern, Classical Courses (Golf Week,'03)
Course Record:  61 (Kyle Reifers, 2006)
HISTORY: When a course is only open for a short period of time, history usually does not fit into the equation, however Black Creek is an exception. Course designer Brian Silva, the 1999 Architect of the Year by Golf World, specializes in designing courses that borrow ideas from some of the masters of his profession, most notably, Seth Raynor and C.B. Macdonald. Black Creek Club combines the best of these vintage designers, as their Redan, Punchbowl, Cape and Biarritz holes would indicate. Silva along with partner Geoffrey Cornish, have designed some outstanding venues, mainly in the northeast, such as Cape Cod National, Waverly Oaks and Red Tail Golf Club. Each hole at Black Creek is specifically named after a design philosophy.

History was made in 2003, as the PGA's developmental league, the Nationwide Tour made its mark at Black Creek. When it was all said and done, Jason Bohn, who birdied five of the final seven holes came away the winner, as he defeated Kyle Thompson by one shot. Bohn, who began the final round three shots back, fashioned a final-round 64, which included a 10-foot birdie on the final hole, as he posted his first career title. Bart Bryant made the biggest move of the tournament, as he stormed from 32nd to a tie for sixth with a final round and then course-record 63.

The 2004 event was quite amazing as well. Justin Bolli, who made the cut on the number, shot rounds of 63-65 over the weekend to overtake Johnson Wagner and Chris Anderson to win by one shot. Doug Barron set a new course record with his final round of 62 and tied for fourth. After a bogey at the par-four 10th, Bolli went on a scoring spree with a birdie on 13 from two feet and a 10-foot eagle on the par-five 14th. Continuing his hot play, Bolli birdied from 20 feet on the 15th and from 10 feet on the 17th. With his up-and-down birdie at the last, Bolli finally grabbed the lead. Anderson had a chance to force a playoff, but failed to birdie the last.

The first playoff in event history occurred in 2005, as Jason Schultz outlasted Jerry Smith, Scott Weatherly and Joe Daley on the sixth extra hole. Schultz, who shared the lead entering the final round, had a chance to win in regulation, but three-putted the final hole to create the playoff. Weatherly and Smith were eliminated on the first extra hole, as both Schultz and Daley birdied the 18th. After halving the next four holes, the playoff continued on the par-four ninth. Both players found the fairway with their tee shots, then dropped their second shots on the putting surface. Schultz poured in a 20-foot birdie putt, while Daley missed from 10-feet for birdie giving Schultz his first tour win.

Records were broken in 2006, as Kyle Reifers carded a then course-record of 61 in the final round and then edged Brandt Snedeker in a playoff to register his first career title. Making his professional debut after graduating from Wake Forest, Reifers birdied the first extra hole to win the Chattanooga Classic. With the victory, Reifers became the 11th player to win his first start on the Nationwide Tour and the 19th player in Tour history to win as a Monday qualifier. The tournament was not without drama, as Snedeker eagled the 72nd hole to get into the playoff and join Reifers at 26-under-par 262, a new tournament record.

After losing in a playoff the week prior, Ron Whittaker became a first-time winner on the Nationwide Tour, as he carded a final round of 70 to post a one-shot win over David McKenzie in 2007. Tag Ridings opened the tournament with a 62, but a third-round of 74 doomed his chances. Ridings finsihed tied for third with Patrick Sheehan and Tommy Tolles. Brad Elder, who tied for sixth, was the lone player in the field to post all four rounds in the 60s.

Arjun Atwal established a new course record (60) and a new 54-hole mark (192), but needed a birdie on the first extra hole to defeat Webb Simpson for his first Nationwide Tour win in 2008. Leading by two with just three holes remaining, Atwal drove into the fairway bunker on 16 and after a chip out, his third found another bunker. Failing to get up-and-down, Atwal and Simpson were tied for the lead. On the 72nd hole, both players two-putted for birdie to force the extra session. On the first playoff hole, Atwal two-putted for birdie from 25 feet, while Simpson missed his five-foot birdie try.

The one thing you will notice on the front nine is the residential-lined holes throughout the outward nine.
REVIEW: The course starts off with a solid par-four, bending slightly to the right following a downhill tee shot. The one thing you will notice on the front nine is the residential-lined holes throughout the outward nine. A slight drawback considering the beauty of the course. Getting back to the action, a fairway bunker some 320 yards off the tee is an excellent target, as this hole favors a fade on your opening shot. This will leave a short iron to a very narrow green with sand right and left. The putting surface slopes from back to front and features a pair of ridges, hence the name "Double Plateau." The second is a dogleg left par-four, that requires a draw off the tee to a fairway protected both right and left with sand. In fact, three-wood might be the play, as the left bunker is 273 yards. Remember, the hole is a dogleg left, so don't confuse the very visible third green which sits to the right (I did). The putting surface is actually snug against the base of a hill with grass swales left and right. A definite birdie hole, as the green slopes gently from left to right. The first signature hole on the course is most definitely the third. This shortish par-three of just 168 yards is played downhill to a green which is surrounded by four large bunkers. The putting surface features a horseshoe swale in the center, so make sure you select the right club so your tee shot can be on the correct side of the green or a three-putt could be in the offing. The course gets its name from the meandering body of water that wanders throughout the layout, Black Creek. It first shows up on the par-five fifth. A fairly straightforward hole, the creek cuts in front of the tee box and ventures its way up the right side of the hole within 100 yards of the green. The bailout side is obviously on the left, however Silva, created some interesting dilemmas. First a 50-yard bunker protects the left side along with native grasses. Second, with the creek on the right, the landing area off the tee is very narrow. Your approach shot must be played down the right side, as to set up the best angle to the green, which is set off the left. The putting surface is protected on the left side by a daunting bunker, while the green itself is broken into three quadrants of slope, making par a good score.

Your short game will be tested on the seventh in order to make par.
Accuracy, not length is the key on the sixth. A short par four by today's standards at 375 yards, this hole requires a fairway metal or an iron off the tee, as a huge bunker right of the fairway stands in plain view. A short-iron approach must clear the marsh area at the end of the fairway to a very small green, protected left by sand and right by a shaved chipping area. The putting surface is fairly simple, so birdies can be made. Although the longest hole on the course at 562 yards, the par-five sixth can be reached in two. It also features the "Punchbowl" style of Macdonald and Raynor. A small bunker in the middle of the fairway, 250 yards out must be avoided to have any shot at getting home. After a successful tee shot, the player is left with two choices, go for the green or layup. Either way, birdie or better is likely. Laying up will leave a 100-125 yard blind shot to a green that sits down. Aim for the directional target behind the green. Missing left or right will end up fine, as the 14,000 square foot green slopes to the center, leaving a sure birdie attempt. Go for the green, a three-metal must be struck with precision in order to clear the bunkers that sit atop a knoll 70 yards shy of the green. If successful, your second shot should roll up onto the green, leaving a definite eagle opportunity. From the longest par-five to the longest par-three on the course, the seventh is a brute at 244 yards from the tips. Playing slightly downhill, the hole requires a fade off the tee and plays slightly easier than the yardage indicates due to the hillside to the left of the green. Short and right could spell doom with a deep abyss bunker. Your short game will be tested here in order to make par. The eighth is a strategic, dogleg right par-four, as its 376-yard length would indicate. Directional bunkers protect the landing area in each and every way, so picking the right club off the tee can make all the difference.
The closing hole on the front is an outstanding par-four, stretching 435 yards with out of bounds left and right.
Bunkers left and right guard the landing area at 220 yards out. More sand occupies the corner of the dog leg on the right, 250 yards away from the tee. And for the big hitters, how about a pot bunker in the center of the fairway, 295 yards out. Now the fun begins, the green, shaped like a square is flanked on the right by sand and features a "thumbprint" swale in the center of the surface. No question, the easiest pin position is the center of the green, however, back right or left and be happy making par. Somewhat similar to The Honors Course's ninth hole, the closing hole on the front is an outstanding par-four, stretching 435 yards with out of bounds left and right. Let's not forget the sand on the right (224 yards out) and left (274 yards away). Usually into the wind, the player is left with an intimidating second shot that must cross Black Creek, which runs on the right side of the fairway crossing the front and left portion of the green. Bailing out right, your shot will land in a shaved chipping area or worse, you guessed it, another deep bunker. To make matters worse, the green is broken up in to three distinct quadrants, making putting a difficult chore.

The plateaued green at the 10th hole features the deepest bunker on the course.
If you thought the front nine was outstanding, wait to you play the inward holes. No homes, no townhouses, just beautiful scenery and one difficult golf course. The 10th is a certain risk-reward type hole. Just 339 yards from the tips and playing downhill, a player has the option of going long with the driver or playing safe with a fairway metal or iron. With the big stick, the player must go right over the two deep fairway bunkers, as the greens is set to that side. Do not miss left off the tee or run through the fairway, as it drops severely into an abyss. The layup approach will leave a sand wedge to a plateaued green that features the deepest bunker on the course. The putting surface is fairly flat, so birdies can certainly kickstart your nine.
The 11th is a downhill par-three of 181 yards with a rectangular green that is protected by a pair of deep trench bunkers in front and back.
Yet another picturesque hole, the 11th is a downhill par-three of 181 yards. The rectangular green is protected in front and back by a pair of deep trench bunkers. The putting surface slopes from back to front and is extremely quick. Some of the finest golf on the back nine awaits the player as he stands on the 12th tee. Black Creek's version of "Amen Corner" starts with a dangerous par- four of 462 yards. With the signature creek running the entire right side of the fairway, the player must bomb a tee shot down the left side towards the two framing bunkers 307 yards out. A mid- to long-iron will remain as the second shot must cross the creek which cuts right in front of the green, reminiscent of the ninth. Bail out right, as the green drops severely down to the water. The putting surface has little undulation, so getting up-and-down should be an easy task.
The second shot at 13, which plays uphill should necessitate a mid- to long- iron to a narrow green.
The second handicap hole on the course, the 13th is another brute at 458 yards. Requiring a fade off the tee, the player must avoid the fairway bunker set in the right-center of the fairway, 250 yards out. By the way, Black Creek runs the entire left side of the hole through the green. The second shot, which plays uphill should necessitate a mid- to long- iron to a narrow green that slopes from back to front and falls off on the right and left. Making par on either one of these two holes or both will be a miracle. The par-five 14th, with one of the most scenic views on the course, concludes the outstanding threesome of holes. The climb to the tee box is 40-50 feet above the previous green and provides a beautiful panorama of the course. Getting back to business, the tee shot must be played from right to
The 15th is a birdie hole, but beware as water hazards loom large down the left.
left, as the hole will kick all balls to the right. This hole can be reached in two, however the second shot must clear a cluster of deep bunkers which sit 50 to 100 yards short of the green. The putting surface, rectangular in shape, is raised and slopes from left to right. A large collection area awaits the player who bails out right of the green, which will make getting up-and-down very difficult. The 15th is a birdie hole, but beware as water hazards loom large down the left. Just 353 yards, the hole plays shorter than its yardage indicates due to its downhill nature. A driver with a draw can be played in attempts to reach the green, however if your less than perfect, you'll be left with a tough pitch from the undulating fairway to a small green that slopes from back to front. Water left and sand right protects the putting surface, so don't be ashamed making four (I wish I did). The 16th is somewhat simple...or
Fashioned after the "Biarritz" style, the 17th hole has a 65-yard deep green with a huge, five-foot swale in the center of the putting surface.
is it? 417 yards and downhill from the tee, the fairway features four bunkers, two down the right side requiring a 250-yard carry and two in the center 290 yards away. Your second shot now must be very accurate as the narrow, rectangular green is protected right and left by sand and in the center by a spine that runs the entire surface. You'll either love it or hate it, as you play the 17th. Fashioned after the "Biarritz" style, the hole resembles the ninth at Yale Golf Club with a 65-yard deep green with a huge, five-foot swale in the center of the green. This hole can play as little as 180 yards from tips or it can stretch to 225 with the pin in the back. The 18th will test your strength and your mind. The home hole features Lake Silva on the left, which stretches from the tee box down the fairway. This par-five can be reached in two, but the player must flirt with the water down the left to have any shot. There is now shame in laying up short of Black Creek, leaving yourself a 100-yard pitch. The green is protected by sand right and left with an additional bunker further left for those players attempting to get home in two. The putting surface slopes from back to front, providing for many anxious moments.

OVERALL: There is no question that Black Creek will climb the rankings as the years go by. The beauty and style of the course are outstanding. Black Creek is not just a players course, it features four sets of markers starting at 5252 yards and stretching to 7149. How about a perfect practice facility set at the base of Raccoon Mountain. The only things that put a damper on the course in my eyes are the homes on the front nine, which takes away from the beauty of the course and the 17th green. Raynor and Macdonald aside, there is no reason for that putting surface, which actually penalizes good shots. Be that as it may, Black Creek is a must play if your in the area. Make sure you check in the pro shop for key tidbits and local knowledge on how to play certain holes. This will make your round more enjoyable.

Conveniently located on the outskirts of Chattanooga, Black Creek offers players a chance to compete on one of the finest layouts in the state. Silva created a masterpiece of angles and shapes with outstanding bunkering throughout. It's certainly a course that makes you think, with many different options on each and every hole, and one that will entice you to come back again and again. Even when your done, you'll have plenty of time to sit on the backporch, sip a cocktail and admire the 9th and 18th holes. This is one course you will not get tired of playing and viewing.

Aces, pars or bogeys, send your thoughts to Phil Sokol at
Phil Sokol

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