The Honors Course
AddressThe Honors Course
9603 Lee Hwy, Ooltewah, TN 37363
InfoArchitect: Pete Dye
Established in 1983, The Honors Course is a private golf club located just northeast of Chattanooga, Tennessee in a community known as Ooltewah. The club''s mission is focused on amateur golf and has hosted many amateur championships.
During the late 1950''s and 60''s, the idea of bringing a world class championship golf course to Chattanooga, Tennessee was a dream which had been periodically pursued, but never attained. Then during the 1970''s, Bill Taff of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee began a relentless search for a suitable site of at least 400 acres. Bill was eventually approached by John “Jack” T. Lupton, who told of his interest in the project and the ongoing search for suitable acreage.
In 1978, a possible tract of land was listed on the real estate market (by Bill’s cousin) in Ooltewah, Tennessee at the foot of White Oak Mountain. The property had a rich history of archaeological treasure dating back to the Cherokee Indians in the 1500’s including the Spanish Expedition of Hernando DeSoto in 1540. In 1871, Samuel Newton started the Chattanooga Powder Company then sold the property in 1895 to Chattanooga Dupont Plant. In 1912, a spin-off of Dupont’s munitions operation became known as Atlas Powder Company. However, numerous explosions plagued the company and in 1945 a fatal explosion ended all powder manufacturing at the site.
Upon hearing of the property’s location, Bill initially feared the property was too remote from Chattanooga. But, at his cousin’s insistence, Bill finally agreed to see the property in December of 1979. The natural grandeur and splendor of the gently rolling landscape overshadowed his initial reaction of the property being too remote.
Bill contacted Lew Boyd and Bill Healy to accompany him to visit the property and get their opinions. They were impressed and knew that this was the spot for Chattanooga’s world class golf course. Bill Healy contacted Jack Lupton and a meeting was set for October 13, 1980 between Bill Taff, Lew Boyd, Bill Healy, Jack Lupton and Joel W. Richardson, Jr. (Jack’s attorney and fellow golfer). That meeting ended with the group having formed an informal limited partnership for the purpose of buying the property.
Pete Dye, the internationally renowned golf architect, was asked to come and take a look at the proposed land acquisition. His first visit was one of amazement and disbelief. As Pete said, “Rarely does one get the opportunity to work with over 400 acres of virtually untouched land to create a golf course devoid of the distractions of land development and commercialism that usually accompany such ventures.” Pete was also able to quickly solve the lack-of-water problem by utilizing the rainfall runoff from White Oak Mountain to fill the proposed manmade lakes.
The next steps were to design and build the golf course and then build the clubhouse. Then, obtain quality members who would nurture the Founders’ ideas and see that they were perpetuated for generations to come. This early planning also involved deciding on a name and logo for the new course. Jack solved the problem quickly with "The Honors Course" and emphasized his earlier decision that The Honors Course would host only exceptional amateur tournaments or those sponsored by the U.S.G.A. The logo would be a drawing of the silver trophy cup given annually to the winner of the Tennessee State Amateur Championship.
Pete Dye began the challenging task of converting this virtual wilderness into a world class golf course on July 23, 1981. By June 1982 the fairways had been planted and in August the greens were ready for planting. The Honors Course would be meticulously cared for and nurtured by one of the nation’s greatest golf course superintendents, David Stone. David was hired by Jack as the head greens superintendent retiring in 2016.
On July 2, 1983 The Honors Course officially opened and immediately took its place among the great golf courses of the world. Much has been written about many great courses. But, words alone cannot do justice to the drama and magnificence of The Honors Course. Those of us who have the pleasure of being a part of such a beautiful place are indeed fortunate and proud of the rich golfing traditions that The Honors Course represents.
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