Soar to new heights at RedTail Mountain Golf Resort in Mountain City, Tennessee. The archway, floral and RedTail statue make an elegant and welcoming entrance. No question – you have arrived to a special place. Circle the valley holes with a preview of steep number 5 on the left and ascend to the clubhouse to check in for golf, lodging or the restaurant. Aptly named, the Vistas restaurant overlooks the 10th tee box, and valley layout with the Appalachia backdrop, serving excellent cuisine. The sesame and poppy seed crusted tuna was seared to perfection. Each bite dipped in a flavored soy sauce melted in the mouth. Hours are somewhat limited however so plan accordingly not to miss the meals. Enjoy the veranda’s rocking chairs anytime.
Guest rooms are spacious and the lodge condos have a modern kitchen. A gas grill stands ready for all. Coffee is provided in the room and at the clubhouse where a cooler with sandwiches, yogurt, snacks and beer serves in a pinch. Stock whatever you need from the grocery stores 5 minutes down the road in Mountain City. You can’t miss with Poblano’s Mexican for dinner there. Coming from Arizona, we know Mexican and this is super. Don’t expect a margarita though. This is a dry county with the exception of RedTail Mountain which has the only liquor license. Order to go, mix your own drink and eat on your deck. The view doesn’t get any better. As soon as you open the door to lodging, the expansive panorama wows past the simply elegant living room. Pizza delivery is available too.
Owner Lyle Habermehl and lovely wife Kendall rescued the property from bankruptcy and started renovating the facilities, adding amenities that will make it a prime time resort destination as well as draw luxury golf home owners. They have traveled the world over and bring the best ideas to the table, adding personal touches throughout. The swimming pool is sparkling next to the clubhouse with the same pristine view. All it needs is the gating and lounge chairs to be complete spring ’15. Tennis courts have been constructed with clay to preserve guests’ knees. Yes, it overlooks the same vista, which is simultaneously relaxing and exhilarating. They just made a deal acquiring rights to 4,000+ acres contiguous to the current 850 for 6 miles of mountain ridge where trails will be blazed this winter for hiking. Eventually an equestrian center might be restored. Who knows what may come? Definitely a fitness center is in the works downstairs in the clubhouse, which will share space with the future spa. The new pro shop site, situated next to the 18th green overlooking the pool and valley will have an open-air grill.
The Maples course design is one to play over and over for the challenge and
beauty with 400 feet of elevation variations. Bunkers have been or will be upgraded with the same SP52 white fluffy sand as Augusta. Bent grass is totally green by mid March for a big spring and the season generally lasts until October. The layout was revised so that numbers one through five weave through the mountain. These are holes you will gobble up like the flocks of turkeys that strut the course. Is number 5 daunting or haunting? That depends on your day. It has a very steep slope angling left to right with a pond short right of the green, preceded by an ancient cemetery dating back to 1719. Great drivers to the left will never see it. The drivable green leaves you wanting a birdie. Keep trying and you will get it. We did. Turned out third time was a charm on the hole that leads to the valley spread of 6-13. 11 is a precious challenge with
water the whole right side and extending through the entire front of the green for a must carry approach shot. Pause after sinking the putt and look up for a gladiator feel in nature’s arena. The most difficult, number 14 rises up, past the clubhouse with finishing holes again in the mountain range. Vistas are up, down all around breath taking. Tee boxes are varied to accommodate all players with a great advantage on the forward tees – 200 yards in fact on number 18. It is nice to always have the opportunity to reach the green in regulation. For correct yardages, pricing, tee times and more, download their new mobile app as over 1000 golfers have. RedTail is semi private with 50 members, offering daily public play and boasts the most online bookings in the region with Golf Now. Membership is a mere $1000 for unlimited play and no monthly dues. No income tax and low real estate taxes combine to appeal to lot buyers.
Lyle’s sister Lynn and husband Vernon are managing the operations, bringing years of B&B, restaurant and event management experience. Arrive for Sunday brunch
and Vernon will greet you at the door while Lynn bustles about ensuring quality production. The banquet room serves 180, while 2 more areas can accommodate groups of 40-50, all with gorgeous views. The Rotary Club takes advantage twice a month and the bridge club every Friday.
Vernon came up with the best rain plan anywhere. If it rains and you quit, it doesn’t matter what hole you were on, he gives a voucher for another 18 another day. The idea is so compassionate it brought a lady to tears. All the staff shows southern hospitality even Nathan from Montana. He lived with Fred and Sharon Funk and has some pretty good golf tales to share. The anchor pro through the years has been the legendary Sam Adams, the first American lefty to win on tour. Members, owners, and staff – everyone raves about Sam who has been here since Mr. Brown had the course built. Sorry we missed meeting him.
Get in touch with your inner Porsche or grab your crotch rocket and conquer the Snake. If you trust a GPS to steer you in to Mountain City from I81 north, you might be surprised by the unplanned journey as we were. Over 300 back-to-back switchbacks, hair-curling hairpin turns make a cycle track that is heaven for bikers and all too often sends them there. The tree of shame is a shocking reminder of the danger with parts hanging from less fortunate vehicles. It gives new meaning to “once in a lifetime adventure.” If you want to make the excursion, pack a picnic lunch and stop midway in a turnoff to watch the racers go by. Prepare for a wild ride to the top and down the other side to Shady Valley only to start rising the serpentine curves again to ear popping height and beyond. Looming clouds kiss the tree canopies like a scene from Gorillas In the Mist. Anyone with motion sickness should stay home. Sharp turns wink by cliffs over wooded streams, as cycles zoom by with helmets nearly scraping the pavement while hugging the curves oblivious to oncoming traffic. It’s all about the race. If you have a thrill seeker inside you, try it once. You can’t miss how to get there. Signs in town point the way.
The more leisurely drive is around Lake Watauga with red sand shores and emerald water against the coniferous greenery of the Cherokee National Forest. Lyle purchased 32 acres on Lake Watauga for a future dock for RedTail guests. Bring your camper or bring your boat. Or rent a vessel from the large Fish Tales marina 30 minutes from the resort and make a day of it. This is an expansive lake for exploration.
Just off the beaten path en route to the lake is the Winery. Check ahead for open hours. We hear the wine is pretty good and the Vineyards that yield the nectar is a picture of Tuscany with the Italian cypress looming over the hillside of vines.
North Carolina is just over the ridge of RedTail and less than 30 minutes is Boone, home of Sam Adams and his brother, the pro at Boone Golf Club along with Appalachian State. And this county is not dry. Macado’s pub takes you back in time with wood slated walls and booths etched and highlighted with personal messages over decades. Music, movie and sports memorabilia splatter the walls for decor. The yummy menu extends well beyond normal pub fare and drink specials are college age priced. How about a high ball for $2.50? Main street shops are filled with the unordinary for fun browsing or purchase. We scored big time in the antique mall finding a Life magazine dated September 11, 1944, the day of our parents’ wedding, just as we were heading to their 70th anniversary celebration. The front cover features Nazi prisoners while the back cover advertises Lucky Strikes that Dad smoked for 40 years. He is still kicking hard at 92 with Mama Scott, lucky him, lucky them, lucky us. Head to RedTail Mountain Golf Resort and you’ll feel lucky too. http://www.redtailmountain.com