CHEROKEE, N.C. – One of Troon Golf’s latest ventures is receiving rave reviews, even though Mother Nature didn’t allow year-round playing conditions.
The par-72 Sequoyah National Golf Course is nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains and opened in September.
But some rare adverse weather conditions forced club officials to shut down in mid-December, for almost a three-month stretch.
“It was an awful winter,” said Ryan Ott, Sequoyah National’s director of golf. “We had a lot of rain and a lot of snow.”
Ott said the area traditionally averages about eight to nine inches of snow per year; he said Whittier was hammered with 22 inches of snow on Dec. 18 alone.
Other storms also followed in January and February.
“I think we got 42 inches of total snow accumulation.” As a result, it was March 10 before the course re-opened.
Those who venture to Sequoyah National are in for a rather pleasant golf experience.
As of mid-April, about 4,500 rounds of golf had been played at the course.
“It’s been great,” Ott said. “Everybody has been enjoying it. The views are unbelievable and the layout is fantastic.”
And there is not one thing or particular hole that stands out at Sequoyah National.
“Everybody asks me what our signature hole is,” Ott said. “My comment is ‘pick one.’ I definitely think the layout for the area is the best layout in western North Carolina.”
The 6,600-yard course features immaculately groomed bent grass greens and bluegrass fairways, and there are numerous breathtaking views on the course.
Each hole provides a panoramic view of the Great Smoky Mountains. One of the most noteable mountains from the course is Clingmans Dome, the highest mountain among the Great Smokies, and the third highest peak (6,643 feet) east of the Mississippi River.
The Sequoyah National Golf Club is owned by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians. About one million cubic yards of dirt had to be moved in order to build the course, which took 20 months.
“It was a very aggressive schedule,” Ott said. “But we were very anxious to get the course open.”
Some rather big-time players are also involved with the facility.
The course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Notah Begay III. The former is a leading golf course architect while the latter is a professional Native golf pro.
Begay attended the course’s grand opening. Though details have not been finalized, club officials are hoping that Begay will return this summer and run a clinic for junior golfers.
Sequoyah National is managed by Troon Golf, the world’s largest golf management company, which is headquartered in Arizona, and oversees the operations of clubs in 26 countries. In the U.S. alone it is in charge of courses in 31 states.
Sequoyah National became the fifth Native American-owned property to be part of the Troon Golf portfolio. The other Native owned courses include a pair in Arizona, Whirlwind Golf Club at Wild Horse Pass and Scottsdale’s Talking Stick Golf Club.
Troon Golf also manages the Yocha-De-He Golf Club at the Cache Creek Casino Resort in California and Connecticut’s Lake of Isle club.