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A Grand, Old Golfin’ Time

Where to play, stay, and eat in Music City

A Grand, Old Golfin’ Time

Nashville may be best known as a country music mecca, but it’s also home to a thriving golf scene. Here, tells you where to go and what to do to get the most out of your trip to the Tennessee capital.

Nashville rarely shows up on the radar screen of those who revel in chasing the little white ball on stirring playing fields, but don’t let that deter you: The city has more than enough quality layouts to make a trip to Music City a memorable golf getaway.

Nashville is about as hot a tourist destination as there is right now. A party spirit, suffused with music, prevails. In a city renowned for the Grand Ole Opry and honky-tonk, a bar crawl is a music crawl. Though Austin owns the title of “Live Music Capital of the World,” it’s hard to imagine any city where music is more deeply ingrained in its identity than Nashville.

When it comes to golf, Nashville has a bonafide golf resort. Gaylord Opryland Resort and Conference Center is home to the Marriott Golf-managed Gaylord Springs Golf Links. Our Nashville playlist started here, and we filled out our dance card with the two 18s at Hermitage Golf Course and the striking Greystone Golf Course. In the private realm, we also like Vanderbilt Legends Club.

The golf

Gaylord Springs Golf Links, located two miles from the Gaylord Opryland Resort, rambles over a floodplain property and occupies bottom land beside the Cumberland River. Limestone bluffs and rock outcroppings add scenic interest and thrilling shot values. The course has hosted the Tennessee Open and, more notably, the PGA Tour Champions’ Music City Championship at Gaylord Opryland from 1993 to 2004.

Gaylord Springs’ ornate clubhouse, which has a large golf shop and a dining room with indoor and outdoor seating, is reminiscent of an Antebellum mansion.

Editor’s Tip: Corporate outings and group events can complicate access to tee times, so inquire about course availability before your visit.

Nashville’s premier public facility is the 36-hole Hermitage Golf Course. Hermitage’s newer 18, President’s Reserve, gets the bulk of the play from traveling golfers. This expansive, broad-shouldered design extends over 300 acres of swampland by the banks of the Cumberland River. Almost every hole is self contained in its own spacious, wonderfully secluded realm.

General’s Retreat, Hermitage’s original 18, served as the host venue of the LPGA’s Sara Lee Classic from 1988 to 1999. Compared to President’s Reserve, this par-72 layout, which maxes out at 6,770 yards, is shorter and much easier from tee to green.

To add color to the Hermitage experience, the owner of the course installed sheep on the grounds after seeing them at Whistling Straits. In five years, the four original sheep have multiplied to 58.

Editor’s Note: If you’re interested in staying onsite, Hermitage has a cluster of eight nicely appointed two-bedroom cottages for rent.

Greystone Golf Club, located an hour west of the Gaylord Orpyland Resort, is an exhilarating course that rambles near a quarry. The routing features a mix of exposed, links-style holes with elevation change (the first hole descends 40-plus feet) and other, more traditional tests that dip into a valley. Boulders and rock outcroppings add to the fun.

Those who are members of a private club may be able to enlist your pro to arrange a round at the private Vanderbilt Legends Club. Located in Franklin, about 30 miles from the Gaylord Opryland Resort, this golf-only home of the Vanderbilt University golf teams boasts a pair of courses spread out on either side of a beautiful clubhouse that sits up on a hill. The North Course formerly hosted the LPGA’s Sara Lee Classic after it left the Hermitage, while the South Course hosts most Vanderbilt men’s golf team invitationals.

Legends also maintains the separate public-access Little Course, a charming, nine-hole par-3 walking course.


The Gaylord Opryland Resort & Conference Center is a giant property that amazes many guests and overwhelms others. There’s a wealth of things to see and do on the grounds.

Gaylord Opryland Hotel has an abundance of dining options. Steak lovers head to Old Hickory, the signature restaurant at all Gaylord resort properties. Ravello features rustic Italian cuisine, and Solario is the resort’s Mexican restaurant. Breakfast at Cascades, whether the buffet or off the menu, is excellent, but the lines for a table can be lengthy. Be sure to make a reservation to avoid being shut out of your dinner choice.


Nashville is fast becoming a foodie destination, as scores of new restaurants open every month. One of the hottest chefs in town is Maneet Chauhan, who you may recognize as a judge on Food Network’s Chopped. Her Indian cooking roots are on display at Chauhan Ale & Masala House on 12th Avenue North. She also owns three other neighboring venues: the brand new Chaatable, inspired by her love of Indian street food; Mockingbird, a modern diner; and Tanuso, a Chinese restaurant specializing in Chinese street food and dim sum.

Other restaurants we like are The Tavern, a gastro pub on Broadway; Virago, a hip, chic spot for sushi that has rooftop seating; Kayne Prime, a steakhouse; and Adele’s, for farm-to-table comfort food prepared on a fireplace grill.

For something completely casual, step up to the counter at Taqueria del Sol at 12th Avenue South & Music Row for salads, tacos, and enchiladas infused with spicy southern accents. The Listening Room at 4th Avenue South is a premier music venue that has good southern cooking. For a special occasion meal, consider The Standard at Smith House, an 11-table steakhouse restaurant in the only remaining antebellum-era townhouse mansion in downtown Nashville.

non-golf activities

The Gaylord Opryland Resort provides a wealth of things to do, from a fitness center and pool to indoor gardens, fountain shows, and live music. One of the more popular resort attractions is the Delta riverboat cruise on a quarter-mile indoor river in a replica of a boat Mark Twain used on the Mississippi. The hotel’s newest attraction is Sound Waves, a huge indoor-outdoor water park. If all this has you in the mood for some pampering, the full-service Relache Spa features 12 treatment rooms.

Nashville is all about music. The quality of sound coming from little two-bit bars scattered throughout town is impressive, and you never know who might be performing or in the audience. Of course, the heart of it all is Music Row, downtown on Broadway. A couple of places not to miss are Tootsie’s and Roberts. While the musicians on Music Row mostly perform cover songs, Nashville’s songwriters come out to perform their own creations at clubs such as Bluebird Cafe, The Listening Room, Commodore Grille, and the Douglas Corner Café, where Garth Brooks and Blake Shelton jumpstarted their careers.