The Elite 18: Bear Trace Wins As We Advance To The Area’s Best Hole No. 4

  • Wednesday, April 17, 2024
  • Paul Payne

With its picturesque setting along the densely wooded shores of Lake Chickamauga, Bear Trace at Harrison Bay has long been considered the crown jewel of the trio of Jack Nicklaus-designed courses operated by the Tennessee State Parks.

The course will have the opportunity to showcase its beauty later this summer when the Tennessee Golf Association stages its Tennessee Four-Ball Championship in July.

One of the holes that participants will have to successfully navigate was voted as the best third hole in the Chattanooga area’s Elite 18, narrowly edging its counterpart at The Farm.

The recap of the winners thus far in creating The Elite 18 are:

No. 1: WindStone Golf Club

No. 2: McLemore Highlands Course

No. 3: Bear Trace at Harrison Bay

It’s time to progress to selecting the best fourth hole in the area. Our panel of local professionals and top amateurs came up with 17 different No. 4 holes nominated among the 25 golf courses in consideration, but these were the top vote-getters:

Chattanooga Golf and Country Club, par 5, 503 yards: Precarious bunker placements in the landing zone for drives coupled with massive trees lining the fairway makes precision a must on this dogleg right hole. After teeing off in pastoral seclusion surrounded by native grasses just paces off Riverview Road, finding this elevated green in regulation can be a challenge.

Lookout Mountain Club, par 3, 224 yards: The challenging Biarritz hole has steep bunkers protecting both sides of this classic design. Club selection is the key and the area before the depression can be an ideal landing spot for a tee ball during firm conditions. Finding the green is a commendable feat on this hole.

Sweetens Cove Golf Club, par 3, 169 yards: The hole is titled “KING” on the scorecard, a tribute to the late Baylor School golf coach King Oehmig who played a major role in the development of the course. This endlessly entertaining hole can play from 90 yards to more than 200 yards into a 20,000 square foot green with countless pin locations on the undulating putting surface.

The Farm, par 4, 495 yards: The tee shot cutting the corner must find the narrow fairway while avoiding the trees as the hole meanders to the left. A safe shot to the right side of the fairway makes the hole play longer than advertised and requires a long iron on your approach.

The Honors Course, par 4, 467 yards: This hole gently turns to the right and features a green void of bunkers. There is a 60-yard-long strip bunker along the right side of the fairway that comes into play. The approach very much has a natural Scottish links feel with the native grasses and rolling surfaces around the green.

You can make your preference known at the poll below. Voting will remain open until Saturday at 6 p.m., with the final results revealed on Monday when we introduce the candidates for the Elite 18 Hole No. 5.

Paul Payne can be emailed at

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