If you hadn’t heard, golf is booming in Tennessee. Certainly the pandemic gave it a nudge, what with everyone looking for more outdoor activities to do, but Beau Branton, marketing manager for Wild Laurel Golf Club in Townsend, says the love for golf continues to grow.
“We’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of play, and it’s not just us. When COVID-19 hit, people were looking for things to do that were safe and fun, so we’ve had a lot of people come out who’d never played golf before,” he says. “People have fallen in love with golf and have continued to play. I’ve worked in the golf industry for ten years now and I’ve never seen it this busy.”
Wild Laurel is a public 18-hole golf course that boasts one of the best views of the Smokies. It sits snuggly beside Rich Mountain, not far from Cades Cove, and serves as a buffer between the Townsend community and areas of wildlife. It’s a geographical position they take seriously.
“We work with Audubon International who lays out best practices in stewardship at golf courses. We do quarterly water tests so we’re not impacting water supply. We don’t irrigate if we don’t have to,” says Beau. “We have several hundred turkeys who roam the course, and river otters, bears, deer, and other wildlife that we want to protect.”
In addition to implementing best ecological and environmental practices, Wild Laurel has been consistently remodeling and reworking its facility since it took over from Laurel Valley Golf Course four years ago - and not just for the golfers to enjoy. In fact, you don’t have to golf to enjoy Wild Laurel. You can literally go for the view.
“You don’t have to play golf to enjoy what we offer. You may not look at a golf course and think, ‘I’m gonna go have a beer there,’ but we are that place,” says Beau.
The bar at Wild Laurel might be the longest bar in Blount County, with plenty of craft beer, spirits, wine, and cocktails to choose from, and the summer menu is exactly what you want it to be: burgers, fries, chicken salad and pimento cheese sandwiches. Golf or not, anyone can pop into the club for a bite, a pint, and a gorgeous view.
The social membership, which is $375 per year per household, includes full access to the private swimming pool and fitness center. Since the golf course is public, the daily rate still applies to those who become members. The pool officially opened Memorial Day weekend and will remain open through Labor Day, or longer if the weather keeps.
Wild Laurel is also an ideal place to hold weddings, receptions, board retreats, and other events that warrant mountain views and plenty of space.
“We brought in a new vision. We named it Wild Laurel because we want to protect the environment that surrounds us,” says Beau. “Everything we’ve done is with the environment in mind - what we’ve planted, how we fertilize and water - it’s all consistent with that goal.”
Learn more at WildLaurel.us