The Elite 18: Council Fire Chosen As Area’s Best No. 16 Hole

  • Sunday, May 26, 2024
  • Paul Payne

There are few golf holes in the region that capture the essence of the origins of the land upon which it was constructed than the 16th hole at Council Fire Club.

With Chickamauga Creek flowing along the left side of the hole, looking back at the hole from the elevated amphitheater-style green is an idyllic confluence of the past and the present.

The name Council Fire was chosen as a tribute to the fact this land was sacred ground for the Cherokee Indian tribe, where they would hold their council meetings around a fire. There is a rich history dating back centuries and that heritage was preserved in the naming the club.

Not only does No. 16 provide a serene setting along the creek, it is a fantastic golf hole. Thus, it was chosen by readers as the top pick to join The Elite 18. As we enter the final week in this campaign, it joins other winners:

No. 1: WindStone Golf Club

No. 2: McLemore Highlands Course

No. 3: Bear Trace at Harrison Bay

No. 4: Chattanooga Golf and Country Club

No. 5: The Ooltewah Club

No. 6: Black Creek Club

No. 7: Brainerd Golf Course

No. 8: The Honors Course

No. 9: The Honors Course

No. 10: Cleveland Country Club

No. 11: Council Fire Club

No. 12: Black Creek Club

No. 13: Black Creek Club

No. 14: WindStone Golf Club

No. 15: The Honors Course

Advancing to the holes under consideration for the Elite 18 best No. 17, our panel of local professionals and top amateurs came up with 15 different candidates among the 25 golf courses in consideration. With distances measured from the back tees, the top choices are:

Black Creek Club, par 3, 206 yards: This iconic “Biarritz” template is designed to test a player’s ability to hit accurate long shots. The defining characteristic of the downhill par 3 is the massive green that stretches up to 70 yards bisected by a deep swale in the middle and is protected by narrow bunkers on both sides of the green.

Chattanooga Golf and Country Club, par 4, 325 yards: The short par 4 is a unique hole, playing over an old logging pit that requires a strategic decision off the tee. Longer hitters can challenge the green which requires all carry. A series of bunkers on the right side of the fairway tend to swallow shots that carom off the sloped landing area. The elevated green slopes hard toward the front, creating additional peril for those putting from above the hole.

Council Fire Club, par 3, 206 yards: The longest par 3 on the course is played out of a chute of trees to a plateaued green that falls off on the left into deep grassy hollows. The tees offer a nice view through the trees of Chickamauga Creek, which runs parallel to the hole. The oval green is open in front with shallow containment areas surrounding the right side which provides some delicate recovery shots.

Signal Mountain Golf and Country Club, par 3, 171 yards: This challenging hole requires golfers to carry their tee shot through a narrow opening among mature trees. The uphill green is only a few paces from out of bounds to the right, while a deep bunker guards the left side. One of the longer greens from back to front, being on the correct level of this two-tiered green is a must to have a chance at birdie.

The Farm, par 4, 461 yards: This hole is a long uphill climb that requires a precise tee shot to avoid trouble. The fairway has a decided slope that can sling tugged shots into the dense forest that borders the left side. The rolling terrain surrounding the green can create havoc on misfired approaches, and the plateaued putting surface is deep and two-tiered.

You can make your preference known at the poll below. Voting will remain open until Tuesday at 6 p.m., with the final results revealed on Wednesday when we introduce the candidates for the final hole in The Elite 18.

Paul Payne can be emailed at

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