Since opening in 1992, Vanderbilt Legends Club has made its mark in
the world of golf by receiving national recognition and accolades. The
North Course layout, which stretches 7,190 yards from the championship
tees, was designed by Hall of Fame golfer Tom Kite and world-renowned
golf course architect, Bob Cupp and has played host to the LPGA Tour and
U.S. Senior Open Qualifying.
The par-72 North Course compliments the extraordinary topography of
Middle Tennessee. The greens are well undulated with the promise for
multiple hole locations and the bunkers are large and boldly shaped. The
course path provides an inspired variety of holes playing through lush,
open fields, over and around numerous lakes and streams.
As host of an LPGA Tour event from 2000 through 2006 and with the
reputation of being Middle Tennessee’s premier golf facility, the North
Course is perfect for golfers of all skill levels.
The first hole is a firm par four that sets the tone for the entire golf course. While the tee shot is fairly open, the degree of difficulty increases around the green. The elevated green is flanked on the left by a large bunker and on the right by a deep grassy hollow, making recovery from off the green a challenge. The green is filled with subtle breaks, making a one-putt from fifteen feet or more very unlikely.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that this short hole is an easy one. The tee shot is visually intimidating with a lake extending all along the left side of the hole. Accuracy is at a premium. A drive hit near the water’s edge affords the best angle to the green. Though the shot is over water it is directly into the slope of the putting surface. A player who bills out long right, on the other hand, will be left with a blind approach to the medium-sized green sloping left toward the water. The hole will provide a wide range of scores.
The main factor determining the difficulty of this medium length par three is the pin placement. The right side of this wide and fairly large green offers an open approach to the hole, whereas the left side brings both the caped bunker and/or the water into play. The base of the flagstick is not visible when it is placed behind the bunker.
The par five fourth is the longest hole on the golf course and is unreachable in two shots. The tee shot is downhill to a landing area that appears narrow, but is in fact quite large. It is guarded on the right by a creek which crosses the fairway 350 yards from the back tee. The second shot favors a long ball that hugs the edge of the fairway bunkers on the right, allowing the best angle into the green. The approach shot to an extremely long, three-tiered putting surface makes club selection and touch critical. A mis-hit approach to the wrong tier could leave a putt of over 100 feet.
The par three fifth hole is one of the most picturesque on the golf course. The green is guarded on the left side by a winding creek and fronted by a stone wall. The tee shot encourages a draw and rewards those who are able to flirt with the edge of the creek and stay dry. Bailing out to the right is the safest play, but leaves a tricky pitch from a section of expanded, closely cut fairway back to a green which slopes gently away and left towards the creek.
The sheer length of the hole is the main obstacle, particularly since it plays slightly uphill and into the prevailing wind. The tee shot must be threaded through a gap in the trees and up a slope into a large landing area. The approach requires a long iron or fairway wood to a sizable green that is guarded on the left and right by grassy hollows, and divided in the center by a gentle roll. Pars will win this hole more often than not.
A fitting contrast to #6, this short par five presents an excellent birdie opportunity. A drive toward the left hand fairway bunker will leave the player in fine shape to reach the green in two, and hit into the opening of the green, whereas a tee shot to the right brings the large mounds to the right of the green and the drop off to the left into play. Another gentle roll separates the pin areas, through, again in contrast to #6, the roll crosses the green perpendicular to the approach. The back pin has the appearance of falling away from the shot, though it actually goes left. Touch with the wedge is critical, particularly from the right side of the second landing area, which is slightly lower than the putting surface.
The key to determining the best strategy for scoring well on this uphill par four is to know the pin location (check it when leaving the first green). The broad putting surface allows a great variety of pin placements, the most difficult being far left, guarded by another caped bunker. Pins tucked behind this bunker will demand a lofted approach, best played from the right of the landing area. Other pin locations can be reached from anywhere in the fairway. The right pins are completely open, but guarded by a bunker behind the green.
Pars will be elusive here for those whose shots fail to combine both accuracy and distance. The hole is an intimidation mixture of length and sand, and, again in contrast to #6, loaded with bunkers on the tee shot and the green. The hole is one of the most scenic, and a fitting finish to the front nine.
Hole #10, with its split level fairway, presents the player with two interesting option off the tee. The upper level, though more open and easier to reach, not only leaves the player with a longer approach shot, but also a somewhat obscured view of the green. In contrast, the lower level, which requires a more accurate shot off the tee due to the bunker lurking off the left edge of the fairway, rewards the bold player with a shorter approach shot and a better view of the green.
This short par four is distinguished by its unusual green. Short iron approaches played from near the fairway target bunker are the norm to this bi-level putting surface. The green is angeles and breaks down to the lower back tier. Aggressive players must also be wary of the drop-off just over the back edge.
Of the four par threes, this one is the longest and most difficult. The front nine par threes, number’s 3 and 5, are medium-short and medium-long respectively, making the overall balance of the three perfect, since #16 is a delicate short one-shotter. Hole #12 is not only long, but uphill and slightly into the wind. It will be a tough par.
While offering a panoramic view from its elevated tee, the lengthy thirteenth is designed to deceive. The bunker placed well short of the putting surface creates a false impression that the angle’s green is closer than it actually is.
This three-shot par five plays along and through a complex series of mounds. A menacing bunker guards the right side of this deceptively deep green set against a backdrop of trees.
After successfully navigating over or around “Morgan’s Tree”, a middle iron is required to reach home. Putts are best played from below the hole as this continuously sloping green can become treacherous.
The short par three is sure to be a pivotal hole in any match. It is short enough to yield birdies, but trouble lurks all around; a lake on three sides and a bunker short right. The encroaching bunker ensures that pin locations in the back and right will be nearly as challenging as those close to the water.
This apparent birdie opportunity should not be taken lightly. Numerous bunkers must be negotiated prior to playing a short iron into this slightly elevated target. The green is sectioned into three distinct areas, rewarding the pin-pointed second shot, while punishing the errant with a very difficult putt.
The shortest path between the tee and the green is perilously close to the water stretching down most of the right tide of this dramatic finishing hole. Reachable in two, the eighteenth will push players to test their limitation, while always providing a safer but longer route to the target.