Cheekwood Golf Club wants to make golf more relevant to the newest generation, while remaining loved by those who grew up with the game, by developing a flagship golf course and training center. The facility will be built on their current land and an additional 54 acres that is located directly across Mack Hatcher Parkway. This facility will be developed in coordination with famous golfer Jack Nicklaus’s Golden Bear Design as a fountainhead for the newest developments in golf.
“We have already lost two golf courses in Williamson County,” said Todd Jester, who is heading up the project locally. “Potential new players are turned off by the time it takes to play a game, the expense, and the difficulty of executive courses. They want someplace to learn the game that is less daunting.”
This new facility will give beginners and old pros alike a chance to play quicker, as well as develop their skills. The updated course will include a nine-hole, par-3 course capable of hosting tournaments; a seven-hole, par-3 course that wraps around the new driving range designed for juniors; a snazzy new putting course; 74 hitting bays located on three tiers with state-of-the-art technology for improving driving; and an ultra high-tech inside training center. There will also be a restaurant, golf house and club facility, business and community meeting rooms, a community gathering space that will look out over the driving range, and a trailhead connecting to Franklin’s park system.
Multi-level driving ranges are ubiquitous in Japan and have been for some time due to the lack of land for traditional driving ranges, the population density, and the country’s love of golf. They are a bit less known in the United States, but the advantage is that more people can use the facilities while employing less space, and creating more income. The planned driving range at Cheekwood Golf Club will provide more than just a strip of grass to shoot at to see how far you can drive. It will offer an assortment of real obstacles to hit around, like sand traps, greens, and rough, as well as, offer a bit of technology to allow the user to feel like they are playing a course of their choice, like Pebble Beach in California or St. Andrews in Scotland, without the need for a plane ticket.
With the shortage of time in our modern world, both newbies and business leaders will find the par-3 course both enjoyable, and a faster play than a traditional course. About one out of every three business deals are done on a golf course according to deembles.com, and according to the New York Times, “…the best female golfers are usually more successful in business than the top male golfers. Women with handicaps of 10 or less have an average income of $146,900, compared with $118,400 for men…”
This is good news for women, as one of the two biggest growth groups to the game of golf. They are followed by teens. However, both groups also leave the game more quickly over frustration trying to develop their skills on courses that are too hard for their beginner skill level. The new Cheekwood Golf Course will provide women and teens with the facilities and pros to help them gain confidence in their game before moving to executive level courses.
Additionally, the team working on the new club are coordinating with the Tennessee Golf Foundation to provide them with offices and facilities on which to offer their many youth programs, including to those who do not usually get introduced to the game.
“Tennessee Golf Foundation works closely with parents,” said Jester, “and our plan is to offer space where parents can work remotely while their children are taking lessons.”
While providing a traditional golf club atmosphere, the design of the buildings will borrow more from the old horse show ring and farm that backs up to the property.
“We have taken elements from the house on the old property and incorporated them into the building design,” explained Mike Hathaway, Principal, 906 Studio, the architectural firm that is designing the buildings. “And we want everything to look of that period, so nothing looks more than two stories high. The third tier of the driving range is actually incorporated into the roof.”
Both Nicklaus Designs and 906 Studio are working with the National Audubon Society to ensure they preserve as much of the natural wildlife habitat as possible. There will even be a footpath through wetlands.
“By making the course a par-three it will be a walking course,” noted Jester. “We want the space to be healthy for wildlife and for families, and also to offer an opportunity for those in the business community to have an hour lunch meeting followed by a round of golf and be done in time to get home for dinner.”
Currently, the proposal is going through the initial stage of approval. The next presentation on the project before the Board of Mayor and Alderman will occur today, August 10. The projected completion of the project is 2023.