Top five private courses (for golfers who hit the Powerball or marry into money)
1. Vanderbilt Legends GC
2. Belle Meade CC
3. Richland CC
4. The Grove
5. Westhaven GC
Vanderbilt Legends wins here because it gives members two 18-hole courses, both designed by Tom Kite and Robert Cupp. I prefer the South Course because of the diversity in the layout. The North Course hosted an LPGA tournament after it left Hermitage, and most par-4s there require long drives. It’s got a great clubhouse, pro shop and dining facility. The practice facility has everything you need.
Belle Meade CC membership is heavy on old-school, big Nashville money. Originally a Donald Ross course, it has been altered several times over the years. The latest redesign made it a longer course, too long to satisfy a lot of older players, but perfect for the limber-backed younger generation. In other words, the grandfathers don’t like it. Their grandsons think it’s the bomb.
Richland is a Jack Nicklaus design with a lot of elevation changes during a round. The original Richland CC was a classic, located 10 minutes away for downtown-based businessmen.
The Grove and Westhaven GC are the new kids on the block, located in tony Williamson County on beautiful rolling green hills. Greg Norman designed The Grove, where you have to buy a lot and build there to become a member. After nine holes were completed, the economy tanked, and the original ownership group — which was funded by Lehman Brothers — took bankruptcy. It was recently completed and is open for play.
Arthur Fellows designed Westhaven, which started out public-private, but is now private and made up largely of members who live within five miles of the course. Noted teaching pro Virgil Herring heads a staff of four teaching pros. Westhaven has a lot of elevated greens with false fronts and is known as a difficult track for high-handicap golfers.
I think given time to grow and mature, these two courses will move up in the ratings.