Buffalo Valley Golf Course (Unicoi, TN on 08/31/13)

We finished up at RedTail around 1pm and stopped by Mike’s BBQ which is a drive up sandwich place about five minutes away from the course. I had an Italian sub which turned out to be very good. So as far as places to eat after the round go, Mike’s would be a good one. It was an hour drive back to Johnson City and I was no more than two or three miles away from Buffalo Valley Golf Course so I ended up there for my afternoon round.

Buffalo Valley is one of two courses owned by Johnson City. Most times when I get ready to play a municipal course I expect a reasonable green fee but I also expect slow play and uninteresting holes that can come with it. I got to the course about 2:45pm and was surprised that the folks in the proshop were starting to close up for the day. I am not sure why that was the case but I got a cart and headed to the first hole. I played the gold tees at 72.2/124/6752. Holes #1 through #3 play through the trees to get to a flat area where holes #4 through #7 are located. The 1st is a long par 4 that required a long iron approach to an elevated green and the 2nd is a par 3 that plays over a hazard through a chute of trees. The 3rd is a short par 4 that gives a feel for what is to come throughout the rest of the round. The hole moves left and has water down the left and out of bounds right, so in every respect it is a placement hole. As mentioned, the 4th through the 7th play in a flat area and are pretty boring as they are all parallel holes including back to back to back par 5’s. Putting the score aside the course becomes more fun starting on the 8th hole. In addition, from the 8th onwards I only hit two drivers so it becomes much tighter. Hole #8 through #18 head into the hills and feature some crazy doglegs and elevation changes, sometimes both in the same hole. The 8th is a dogleg left and needs a layup to the corner of the dogleg off the tee and then an uphill approach to a green that slopes severely from back to front. The 9th is a 416 yard par 4 where the tee shot is played to the top of a hill and then the hole drops to the green. From the the tee and fairway there are some good views of the area. The 10th, a 385 yard par 4, is one of the crazier holes that I have played this year. From the tee it looks like that there is no fairway because the vegetation is so dense. Plus, in a straight line to the hole my Skycaddie showed that it was 311 yards so that gives an idea of how much the hole went left. The 12th is next significant hole in my opinion because it drops probably 100 feet from the tee to the fairway. The 13th through the 16th are pretty solid holes each with their own challenges before the course saves the best for last. The signature hole is the 17th which is a 178 yard par 3 that dropped so much down the hill that I could not see the green from the back tees. I had to go to the higher part of the tee box where the blue tees where located to get a line. I ended up hitting my 130 yard club almost pin high because it dropped so much.

I paid $32 to ride on a weekend afternoon which I suppose is reasonable because the course would be almost an impossible walk except for the opening holes. The course was dry and played firm and fast which is a surprise because the area has exceed its annual rainfall by about 17 inches to date. Except for a few ball marks the greens were in good shape and quicker than I expected for a municipal course. I was surprised that most of my putts, except on a few holes, stayed on line nicely. The tees were thin and the same for places in the rough. On some of the holes with elevated greens this made it especially tough to chip because the stance was odd and the lie was thin. The fairways were decent but did have different grasses growing in them. Some holes were deep in the woods which I think can hurt trying to grow grass. Holes #8, #10, #11, #16 were in rough shape compared to the rest of the course and had many spots that I would consider ground under repair. The course isn’t a destination course for the area, but I had a good time playing and got around quickly in about 3 hours. The course has some interesting things including five par 5’s, back to back par 3’s, and some short enough holes to allow for some birdies for a straighter player. I think before playing here it would helpful to set expectations that the course could be a little rough on the edges but it will also create some stories with the unique holes.



#1 approach:






#3 green:








#8 approach:




#9 approach:








#13 green looking back:




#14 approach:


#16 looking back:







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