History


During the late 1950's and 60's, the idea of bringing a world class championship golf course to Chattanooga, Tennessee was a dream which had been periodically pursued, but never attained. Then during the 1970's, Bill Taff of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee began a relentless search for a suitable site of at least 400 acres. Bill was eventually approached by John “Jack” T. Lupton, who told of his interest in the project and the ongoing search for suitable acreage.

In 1978, a possible tract of land was listed on the real estate market (by Bill’s cousin) in Ooltewah, Tennessee at the foot of White Oak Mountain. The property had a rich history of archaeological treasure dating back to the Cherokee Indians in the 1500’s including the Spanish Expedition of Hernando DeSoto in 1540. In 1871, Samuel Newton started the Chattanooga Powder Company then sold the property in 1895 to Chattanooga Dupont Plant. In 1912, a spin-off of Dupont’s munitions operation became known as Atlas Powder Company.  However, numerous explosions plagued the company and in 1945 a fatal explosion ended all powder manufacturing at the site.
Upon hearing of the property’s location, Bill initially feared the property was too remote from Chattanooga. But, at his cousin’s insistence, Bill finally agreed to see the property in December of 1979. The natural grandeur and splendor of the gently rolling landscape overshadowed his initial reaction of the property being too remote.
Bill contacted Lew Boyd and Bill Healy to accompany him to visit the property and get their opinions. They were impressed and knew that this was the spot for Chattanooga’s world class golf course. Bill Healy contacted Jack Lupton and a meeting was set for October 13, 1980 between Bill Taff, Lew Boyd, Bill Healy, Jack Lupton and Joel W. Richardson, Jr. (Jack’s attorney and fellow golfer). That meeting ended with the group having formed an informal limited partnership for the purpose of buying the property.

Pete Dye, the internationally renowned golf architect, was asked to come and take a look at the proposed land acquisition. His first visit was one of amazement and disbelief. As Pete said, “Rarely does one get the opportunity to work with over 400 acres of virtually untouched land to create a golf course devoid of the distractions of land development and commercialism that usually accompany such ventures.” Pete was also able to quickly solve the lack-of-water problem by utilizing the rainfall runoff from White Oak Mountain to fill the proposed manmade lakes.
 
The time had come to find additional partners who understood a vision of rich tradition of golf and would ensure the continuity of what would become The Honors Course philosophy, as set forth by the five original partners. The following responded to an invitation and joined the five original partners to become the founding members:

            Hardwick Caldwell, Jr.                           Daniel W. Oehmig
            Scott L. Probasco, Jr.                             Lucien B. Crosland
            J.D. Schmissrauter, Jr.                            R.B. Davenport, III
            Joseph W. Graves,  M.D.                       James D. Kennedy, Jr.
            John B. Stout                                         John K. Woodworth

In April 1981 the first meeting of the founding members took place and an agreement was reached to purchase the property from Industrial Chemical Industries. The members also listed four primary desires which set the tone for the design and future operation of the club:

1.  To have a challenging golf course on which to play - a course experience not rushed by too many players at one time - well defined and secluded, so play on one hole does not interfere with play on another hole.
2.  To have a great golf course in the Chattanooga area; one equaling the world's best, and one the Chattanooga community will be known for and of which it will be proud.
3.  To have a comfortable place to entertain friends and associates for both golf and for lunch.
4.  To avoid competing with or taking members away from the other clubs in the area. (This was an important point. The Honors Course would not be a country club - no swimming, no tennis, no a la carte dining. It was to be a golf club.)

The next steps were to design and build the golf course and then build the clubhouse. Then, obtain quality members who would nurture the Founders’ ideas and see that they were perpetuated for generations to come. This early planning also involved deciding on a name and logo for the new course. Jack solved the problem quickly with "The Honors Course" and emphasized his earlier decision that The Honors Course would host only exceptional amateur tournaments or those sponsored by the U.S.G.A. The logo would be a drawing of the silver trophy cup given annually to the winner of the Tennessee State Amateur Championship.
 
Pete Dye began the challenging task of converting this virtual wilderness into a world class golf course on July 23, 1981. By June 1982 the fairways had been planted and in August the greens were ready for planting. The Honors Course would be meticulously cared for and nurtured by one of the nation’s greatest golf course superintendents, David Stone. David was hired by Jack as the head greens superintendent retiring in 2016.

On July 2, 1983 The Honors Course officially opened and immediately took its place among the great golf courses of the world.  Much has been written about many great courses. But, words alone cannot do justice to the drama and magnificence of The Honors Course. Those of us who have the pleasure of being a part of such a beautiful place are indeed fortunate and proud of the rich golfing traditions that The Honors Course represents.

 

The name "Ooltewah" translates into the words "resting place".


The Honors Circle

The Honors Circle, located by the Clubhouse entrance, was established to honor amateur players from the state of Tennessee. Each honoree has a hole named after them, describing their playing accomplishments in local, national and international championships. Click here to learn more.

1986, 2004, 2014

Southern Amateur

 

1987, 2008

Tennessee Women's State Amateur

1989, 1999, 2009

Tennessee Men's State Amateur

1991

U.S. Amateur Championship

1994

The Curtis Cup Matches

1995, 2007

Canon Cup

1996, 2010

Men's NCAA Division 1 National Championships

1999

The Palmer Cup

2001

The Western Junior Championship

2005

U.S. Mid Amateur Championship

2011

USGA Senior Women's Amateur Championship