Opening in 1997, The Medalist at Avalon as it was known, opened to rave reviews and was the talk of East Tennessee. Nestled on 166 acres in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, Avalon incorporates some of the most breathtaking countryside in the area. Golf Course architect Joe Lee designed Avalon and because of its significant elevation changes, varying terrain, and profound slopes and elevations in the greens, Avalon was awarded a “4-Star” Rating by Golf Digest. This 18-hole championship layout played 6,764 yards from the longest tees.
As the years went by, the economy took a significant downturn and membership started to wane. The Medalist at Avalon was on the verge of collapse and the golf course and its amenities went on the auction block in 2015.
That’s when Tony Hollin, chairman, president, and CEO of Knoxville-based EdFinancial Services stepped in and got involved. Hollin has been active in several community and professional organizations. He placed the winning bid and immediately let the crowd – mainly Avalon homeowners – know that he planned to keep the golf course open and that it was “business as usual.” His goal he said, “was to make the golf course more successful than ever.”
New ownership usually brings about change and this was to be no exception. For starters, the club’s name was changed to Avalon Country Club. The clubhouse also underwent some renovations and is home to a well-stocked pro shop and two restaurants including an A-list steakhouse. Vast improvements were made to the golf course too. All of the bunkers were redone and are currently a joy to play out of. Recently, the greens have been redone with Primo Zoysia grass, making Avalon the only club in Tennessee with these types of greens. All of these changes have caused Golf Advisor to recognize Avalon as one of the “Top 25 Most Improved Golf Courses” in 2015 and the #15 top course in Tennessee in 2016.
Avalon Country Club is an outstanding layout that will challenge all golfers regardless of abilities. Avalon plays 6,765 yards from the Back Tees with a rating of 72.0 and a slope of 128. The White Tees (6,300/69.6/126) and the Gold Tees (5,841/67.2/124) offer a fair and enjoyable round for most golfers and allow you to leave with your dignity intact. Ladies will enjoy the Red Tees (5,260/70.0/119).
Number 1 starts you out with a challenging par 4 that plays 393 yards from the White tees. It’s downhill from tee to green with a bunker and the driving range framing the right side and a lot of mounding on the left. There are a few trees and a lot of long straggly rough on the right if you hit it long too. A good drive that favors the left side of the fairway leaves the best angle into a large, well-undulated green surrounded on the left side and middle front by bunkers.
The 3rd hole is a par 3 that plays downhill and is a little shorter than the 145 yards listed on the scorecard. The green is well-undulated and slopes back to front. Two bunkers front the green and sit well below it. Find one of them off the tee and you’re looking at a tough up and down for par.
Number 4 is one of the toughest holes on the course – it’s handicapped #3. It’s a big sweeping dogleg left and you can shave some yardage off the hole by hitting over the trees on the left side. Hit it too far left and you’ll be in someone’s backyard. A good drive will still leave a long uphill approach shot into a large green with a small bunker on the right. Miss your approach shot to the right and you may never see that ball again.
On Number 5, you could very well hit the longest drive of your life. It’s a 364-yard par 4 dogleg left that plays downhill once you get to the dogleg. If you can carry your drive over the left side of the bunker and catch the downslope you will at least end up at the bottom of the hill and if you get lucky, find the green. There’s also a good chance you’ll find the lone trap right of the green. Par is a good score here.
Number 9 is the best test of golf on the entire layout. At 534 yards, it’s the longest hole on the golf course and the #1 handicap; it also has the most challenging approach shot of any hole on the course. For most players, it’s a 3-shot hole and 3 good shots at that. A good drive out to the right of the fairway bunker on the left will leave a choice to either layup or carry the creek that sits about 120 yards short of the green. The smart play is to lay up short of the creek as the fairway gets narrow on the other side and slopes towards the water. Your approach shot is over water to a long narrow green that slopes back to front and is protected on the left side by a large bunker.
The longest hole on the course is followed by a short par 4. Number 10 plays 337 yards and the smart money is on hitting something less than driver off the tees to avoid the myriad of bunkers. A mid-iron off the tee and over the first bunker will leave a short uphill chip shot into an elevated green. It’s a great opportunity to put up a low number and get the back nine off to a great start.
The 17th hole is one of the most picturesque holes on the golf course. It’s a dogleg left par 4 over a lake that plays 360yards and is a big risk/reward opportunity. A good line over the water requires about a 210-yard carry which will leave a short pitch shot into an elevated green surrounded by sand.
Number 18 is a great finishing hole and one of the toughest tee shots on the course. This 525-yard dogleg left par 5 requires an accurate tee shot that avoids the water on the left and the bunker on the right in the landing area. There’s a lot of mounding on the right as well as out of bounds if you try to play it too safe out to the right. Choose your layup club carefully as you’ll be challenged by that water on the left and a creek that crosses about 60 yards in front of the green. Success thus far will leave a short pitch shot over water into a shallow green that slopes back to front towards the water. There’s a bunker behind it to keep you honest.
Before your round, warm up on Avalon’s full-length driving range where you can hit every club in the bag until your heart’s content. There’s also a practice putting green to warm up with the flat stick. After your round, step into Avalon Country Club’s clubhouse for a bite to eat. You’ll have two venues to choose from. The Grille offers primarily traditional clubhouse food with a good wine and alcoholic beverage menu. The real treat is the all-new T-Prime Steak and Seafood Restaurant. T-Prime is destined to become one of the most popular restaurants in the area. One look at their menu and you’ll see why. Appetizers such as a Seafood Platter and Crispy Artichoke Hearts and entrees that include all of the top cuts of steak and seafood: Filet Mignon, Shrimp Fra Diavolo, and Cedar Plank Red Grouper. It’s not what you’d find at your average golf course.
Avalon Country Club is currently accepting new memberships and according to General Manager Beau Hollin, numbers are rapidly increasing. “When we took over the course, membership was down to around 60 golf members when we bought the course 6 years ago,” Hollin said. “Now, with the improvements we’ve made to the course and clubhouse area, we are already up to 300 full golf members and 400 total members.”
Avalon Country Club is located a mere 20 minutes away from downtown Knoxville and just 7 minutes from The Turkey Creek Shopping Center. Access to I-40 is just seconds and McGhee Tyson Airport is 20 minutes away. For more information on Avalon Country Club or to become a member, visit their website at www.avalongolf.com. Click on the Membership tab to see their incredibly priced membership specials.