In all my years of writing about golf and golf communities, I have never come across anything as impressive as Tellico Village. I know there are communities with more courses, but geographically speaking it has to be one of the largest golf communities in the country.
Tellico Village is nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains on the Tennessee side and encompasses more than 5,000 acres in and around Tellico Lake. There are around 5,000 homes and more than 8,000 people who call Tellico Village home. Tellico Village was created in 1986 when Cooper Communities first broke ground on this master-planned, ungated community. Located about 30 minutes from Knoxville, Tellico Village has three championship golf courses and unlimited resources for boating, fishing, and swimming. There are outstanding medical facilities in the area too, with more than 200 doctors and state-of-the-art medical technologies.
Tellico Village has become one of the premier senior planned retirement communities in the southeast. In addition to golf and boating, Tellico Village offers residents a wide array of recreation facilities and activities. The Wellness Center is a 27,000 square foot facility with all of the resources you’ll need plus the bonus of a spectacular view of the Smoky Mountains. There’s a six-lane, 75-foot indoor swimming pool and a smaller, warm-water therapeutic pool. The large exercise room has an indoor walking track as well as cardio and weight equipment. In the spacious fitness class studio, you’ll find a wide variety of dance and movement classes, yoga, and Tai Chi. If you like racquet sports, you’ll enjoy four Har-Tru tennis courts and eight pickleball courts.
For many residents, golf is the main attraction here. Tellico Village boasts three of the area’s most pristine golf courses: Tanasi, Toqua, and Kahite. All three courses were designed by Ault, Clark & Associates. These three private, championship golf courses have hosted many state and national championship events including the Tennessee Golf Association’s Junior Amateur Qualifier, Women’s and Men’s Senior Amateur Championships, Four-Ball, and Senior Four-Ball Championships as well as the PGA Tour Nationwide Knoxville Open Qualifier. All Tellico Village, when you become a property owner you automatically become a full golf club member with rights and privileges on all three courses. Each clubhouse has a restaurant with a unique menu and taste. These are not your average clubhouse restaurants.
Toqua opened in 1987 and was nominated by Golf Digest as a “Best New Course” that same year. Toqua underwent an extensive renovation in 2008 and golf aficionados now consider the layout a classic design and is built within an exquisite natural setting. Several holes play along Tellico Lake while others wind their way through hills and valleys. This course approaches 7,000 yards from the tips but can play as short as 4,200 yards from the “play it forward” tees. No matter your skill level you’re sure to find a set of tees to match your game. Memories of the 14th hole will last a while. It’s fairly short as par 4s go and long ball hitters will find it drivable. You play your tee shot over a small finger of Tellico Lake with the lake also making up the left side of the fairway. The green is well-protected with bunkers so unless you’re going for the green, hit something that will leave you short of them. Hit a good pitch shot and make birdie that way. It’s a fun hole.
In 2014, the Toqua Pavilion was opened and is used for tournaments, banquets, and other large gatherings and events. A miniature golf course was recently added and Assistant Golf Professional Charles Roffers puts together many community events that give residents an extra way to get involved.
Before your round, warm up on Toqua’s full-length driving range; there’s also a short-game area and practice putting green. Afterward, visit the Toqua Sports Bar and Grill. In addition to your favorite libations, they feature such tantalizing dishes as Fajitas, Mahi Tacos, and Pan Seared Atlantic Salmon. There’s also a full slate of desserts.
The Tanasi Golf Course opened in 1996 and the design is quite different than the other courses. You’ll find the Bermuda fairways are a lot more open and thus more forgiving; the Crenshaw Bentgrass greens are bigger too! Many of the greens are elevated with a lot of undulation, but they roll true. This championship course has seven sets of tees and can be played comfortably anywhere from 6,731 yards to 4,480 yards. Beautiful Tellico Lake comes into play on several holes and enhances the beauty and challenge of the course. While there is no driving range, there is an 18-hole putting course.
Two of the holes that bring the lake into play are Numbers 9 and 10 which happen to be the #1 and #2 handicaps. Number 9 is a 369-yard par 4 dogleg left that requires both accuracy and distance control off the tee. Not putting your tee shot in the right place can leave an awkward lie. It’s a three-tiered, downward-sloping fairway so pray for a flat lie! A good drive will leave around a 140-yard approach shot over the lake into a green that is a lot wider than it is deep. A left-side pin placement is especially difficult as it is guarded with a small bunker. It’s one of the most challenging holes on the course.
Number 10 is a 389-yard dogleg left around Tellico Lake. It’s all risk/reward off the tee but to me, the risk greatly outweighs the reward. A tee shot down the right side with a slight draw works well and leaves a mid-iron into a slightly elevated and well-undulated green. Hit two good shots in a row and reap the reward!
Whether you play the course or not, you have to eat a meal in the Tanasi Bar & Grill; it’s anything but your typical clubhouse food. Try salads such as the Fried Chicken Cobb Salad or the Strawberry Chicken Salad. For your main course, you can’t go wrong with the catfish, meatloaf, or their signature ribs. All come with a couple of sides and portions that will have you loosening your belt. After dinner, ask for one of pastry chef Miss Kat’s delectable creations such as caramel apple bread pudding. You’ll be amazed.
Tellico Village’s 3rd course – the Links at Kahite – opened for play in 2002 and in 2003, the course was nominated to Golf Digest’s list of “Best New Private Courses.” Kahite is a links-style course with some very unusual design characteristics including tall fescue grasses that line some of the fairways. It features Bermuda fairways and Bentgrass greens and can be played anywhere from 7,170 yards to 4,435 yards. The course meanders through a serene, natural setting with several holes offering beautiful panoramic views of the Great Smoky Mountains. There are a couple of things that differentiate Kahite from Tellico’s other two tracks. The first is the number of bunkers, all well placed. There are 93 bunkers in all, with 12 of those being on the 18th hole. Perhaps the most notable characteristic of Kahite is the 808-yard (back tees) par 6 9th hole. Although it’s a long – OK really long – hole, it’s fairly straightforward. If you can keep it in play for four straight shots and hit it straight, you can score well.
Kahite features the Village’s newest driving range facility, practice bunkers, and putting green. The Kahite Clubhouse has great casual dining and an outdoor patio for post-game refreshments.
With three golf courses to keep in pristine condition, you have to imagine things can get rough for those in charge. Chris Sykes, who has served as the Head Golf Course Superintendent at Toqua Golf Club and was recently promoted to Director of Golf has said that their biggest challenge in maintaining all three courses is managing the putting surfaces through the summer season in the transition zone. Chris had the good fortune of working for David Stone at The Honors Course at the beginning of his career, where he formed the foundation for Tellico Village’s ongoing agronomic programs. David Stone is in the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame and won every award imaginable including the USGA Green Section Award.
There are many reasons why people retire and move to Tellico Village, but the main reason is its affordability. Tennessee tends to have one of the lowest costs of living in the country, meaning your retirement dollars go a lot further. Furthermore, there is no state income tax or state estate tax, no personal property taxes or school taxes, and low taxes on tobacco, gasoline, and diesel fuel. All things considered, Tellico Village is a great location for active adults who want to concentrate on enjoying their golden years rather than worry about their financial situation. Check them out at www.tellicovillage.org.