The Takeaway: Lookout Mountain is a great course but needs a renovation and restoration to unearth its true potential. Polishing up the bones of this superb design combined with the stellar views would land Lookout Mountain well up every Top 100 list in America. Grade A-
Designer: Seth Raynor 1925
Phone Number: 706-820-1551
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Lookout Mountain Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 1201 Fleetwood Drive, Lookout Mountain, Georgia 30750 – UNITED STATES
What to Expect: It is almost maddening how good this course could be. With the location, views, and bones that this course has, it would easily be a Top 100 course with a renovation that resurrected the design to its original layout and intent. The setting, terrain, and atmosphere reminded me a ton of Crystal Downs in Michigan but the template holes are some of the weakest I've seen. Biarritz, Alps/Punchbowl, Redan, and Road are all shells of their former selves. Road is counter intuitive to the original intent, Redan hardly slopes, Biarritz needs the entire front two-thirds redone, etc. Cape was easily the best hole and a fantastic par five. Lookout Mountain ended up being a bit of a "love/hate" for me. I loved the setting and roots of the course but hated how far removed it was from its former greatness that is hiding just under the surface. While carts are available at the course, you'll find plenty of players that elect to walk the course despite the varied terrain the track enjoys. Ultimately, Yale and Lookout Mountain stand as the two courses that would most easily rocket up Top 100 lists if they were renovated, much like what Sleepy Hollow in New York has been able to accomplish.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 11th Hole – 418 Yard Par 4 – The signature hole at Lookout Mountain combines the template holes of Alps and Punchbowl to create an offering you don't want to miss. Like the famous 17th at Prestwick that features a bunker hidden behind the Alps, the hidden bunker on Lookout is behind the hill on the left side; so a tee ball up the right is the safe play as long as you keep it short of the bunker 315 yards out. The approach shot plays into a green that is slightly raised around the perimeter but then slightly depressed on the interior in a shallow Punchbowl fashion. If your view is blocked on the second shot, take dead aim at the large flag bowl with the club's logo flying from it as that is set to be the aiming point for the center of the green. It is a really fun hole and a perfect example of the type of designs that Seth Raynor became famous for.
Best Par 3: 13th Hole – 203 Yards – The Redan hole, fashioned after the 15th at North Berwick, is found as the 13th at Lookout Mountain, and look out is exactly what you'll find yourself doing as the views from the tee carry over the treetops and out to North Carolina in the distance. No doubt about it, this is a setting that will etch itself into the golfer's memory that has a chance to tee it up here. As with all Redan holes, the goal should be to land a tee shot on the right third of the green and let the slope of the putting surface work the ball over to the center and left third of the green where the flag will generally be found. Balls that miss the green on the right will still have a chance to skip onto the putting surface but can't be counted on to get close to the pin location. This hole is a stunner, enjoy!
Best Par 4: 5th Hole – 390 Yards – Known simply as Bowl, the 5th hole is located at the eastern edge of the property near the lowest point on the course. The fairway is blind from the tee so you need to have some trust with your line which should be up the left edge before kicking your ball towards the center of the short grass. The approach shot plays to one of the most attractive locations on the course with the greensite amongst natural rock formations that give character and contrast to the hole. With the terrain taking a climb uphill just beyond the green, that should be a quick indication to you that keeping the ball below the hole is the ideal play so you don't have to contend with a slick putt back towards the front.
Best Par 5: 10th Hole – 570 Yards – The award for the hole that uses the natural terrain better than any other at Lookout Mountain has to go to Cape; the par five 10th. The aiming point off the tee is at the two fairway bunkers on the right side that are further away (345 yards) than they appear and letting your ball skip forward or follow the slope to the left. The fairway then bends left, hugging the trees that protect the inside of the dogleg, as it races towards the green with the slope pulling everything left. When going for the green in two, players have to keep their ball on the high right side otherwise the ball will kick hard left and potentially to the cabbage flanking the rough on that side. While there is no sand greenside, there are a pair of bunkers 70 yards short of the green that are quick to consume careless layup attempts. The scale and slope of this hole is just fantastic.
Birdie Time: 6th Hole – 126 Yard Par 4 – As is the common practice at courses sporting template holes, Short proceeds Long, and are often the easiest and hardest holes on the golf course. Short at Lookout Mountain is the 126 yard par three 6th that tees off from the top of a large 20 foot boulder and plays to a green fronted by a pair of bunkers. The putting surface falls off quickly on each side which makes hitting the green paramount, but with a scoring club in your hand you should be able to take aim at the flag with confidence.
Bogey Beware: 7th Hole – 455 Yard Par 4 – Appropriately named Long and measuring just three feet short of the lengthiest par four on the course, the 7th traverses from the low ground to the high ground at Lookout Mountain with an 85 foot rise from the lowest spot in the fairway to the top of the green. The tee shot plays over a pair of bunkers to an ascending fairway that also banks to the right, so knocking a drive beyond on the hill on the left is the ideal play to maximize distance and approach angle. For those that occasionally struggle to get their ball properly lofted, the approach on this beast will be intimidating to say the least as the terrain steadily climbs up to the flag. A bunker sits 50 yards short of the green in the dead center of the fairway and is ready to collect shots that come in low or don't make it far enough up the hill to reach the flat spot. Another large bunker at the front right corner of the green which is a common miss given the terrain kicks balls to the right and players often come up short on the elevated approach. Bogies here are commonplace, just try to keep it to no worse than that.