Over the past 10 years, I have been blessed to visit, play, and write about some incredible golf courses, resorts, and destinations. While each has had its elements of beauty and challenge, nothing matches what we experienced at Rarity Bay Country Club in Vonore, TN a few weeks ago.
The 18-hole championship golf course is just one of many amenities available within this exclusive gated community. Rarity Bay sits on a 960-acre peninsula on Lake Tellico and is considered one of the premier lakefront developments in Eastern Tennessee. Within the community, there are 1,600 homesites and 10 miles of shoreline set along the clear waters of Lake Tellico, with the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains serving as a backdrop.
Homeowners here seemingly have it all: a gorgeous home in a gated community with a well-manicured and challenging golf course on one side, Lake Tellico on the other, and beautiful views of the Great Smoky Mountains. In addition to golf and boating, there’s an equestrian center with professionally maintained stables, and a lighted show arena, both managed by a staff of trained professionals, 125 acres of biking and hiking trails, and several racquet sports courts. You will be hard-pressed to run out of things to do!
The magnificent 18-hole championship golf course was designed by D.J. DeVictor and Peter Langham and is set on over 150 acres of rolling terrain. As you make your way around the layout you’ll encounter mounded fairways, significant elevation changes, and challenging putting surfaces, all while enjoying the spectacular views of the Great Smoky Mountains and Lake Tellico. No matter how good or bad you play, the views will keep you in a positive frame of mind.
From the back tees, Rarity Bay plays 6,799 yards with a par of 72. The course rating is 72.3 with a slope rating of 129 all on Bermuda grass. Our group played from the Blue/White Combination Tees (5,985/67.9/124) and found it to be very challenging from that distance. In all, there are 9 playing distances on the scorecard for you to find a yardage that suits your game. With only one par 5 on the front side compared to three on the back, the front nine is considerably shorter.
Rarity Bay has several memorable holes. The layout starts with the best view from any course I have ever played in Tennessee. Standing on the tee box, you see the golf course, Lake Tellico, and the mountains all laid out right before your eyes. It is so beautiful I couldn’t tell you much about the first hole other than it’s a short downhill par 4!
Number 2 is a picturesque par 3 over water that plays 188 yards from the Gold Tees. The green is very wide and not real deep. The water is beautifully framed by large rocks. Hit into the rocks and you can say goodbye to that ball.
Number 4 is probably the most interesting hole on the golf course and if I were naming holes it would be “Where’s the Green?” From the Blue and Gold Tees, it’s a long par 4, dogleg left. Move up to the Whites and it’s a 288-yard hole that plays straight away, once you figure out that the green is sitting significantly below the fairway things start to change! There’s a periscope to help see the group in front of you. Hit a good drive followed by a good pitch shot and this is a fun little golf hole!
Number 8 is another short par 4, playing 314 yards from the White Tees. It’s a slight dogleg left and you can’t see the pin from the tee because this green sits below the fairway. A good drive will leave a short chip shot into a green protected on the right by sand. Number 8 is a good place to make up a stroke on your partners.
Number 9 is yet another picturesque golf hole. The hole plays 518 yards from the Blue Tees, downhill the entire way. Beware of the deep valley directly in front of the green. A good drive followed by a solid layup shot down the middle will still leave an interesting uphill chip shot.
Number 10 is a reachable 486-yard par 5 that plays downhill from the tee box. A good drive will leave a decision of whether or not to try and get home in two. It will be a long iron or hybrid that is all carry into a green that slopes back to front with two bunkers guarding the right side. Come up short on your approach shot and you’ll be left with a challenging pitch shot significantly uphill.
For most players, the par 5, 528-yard, 18th hole is a three-shot hole. The hole plays around water which shouldn’t come into play until your second shot. Keep your second shot out to the left; a good aiming point is the two bunkers on the left side of the fairway. You’ll find a lot of undulation in the green which slopes back to front left. Trouble lurks around the green too; lay up short and you may still have the water in play. There’s a large swale and deep bunker behind the green if you go long so your best bet is to find the green!
Rarity Bay also has some pretty impressive practice facilities to help you keep your game tuned up. There’s a full-length driving range where you can hit every club in the bag as well as a short game area complete with sand traps and a well-manicured putting green. There’s no reason not to play your best when you hit the first tee.
After your round, you’ll want to venture inside Rarity Bay’s well-stocked pro shop to pick up some logoed gear to commemorate the occasion. They have all kinds of apparel for men and women and all of the necessities you’ll need while playing such as balls, gloves, and towels. If you’re hungry, Rarity Bay has some great food, and the Bay Bistro is a great place to grab a bite to eat before or after your round. After a complete renovation and remodel the dining room is open to members and golfers until 3 pm, after which it is available only to members. The menu is interesting, with such dishes as a Chicken and Waffle Sandwich, Breakfast Pizza, and Blackened Barbeque Salmon. If you enjoy the food, it’s just another reason to join the club.
The Rarity Bay’s Recreation Center sits adjacent to the Clubhouse and is home to several lighted tennis courts, four pickleball courts, a fitness facility, and a swimming pool. The Rec Center offers a casual atmosphere that is ideal for spring and summer activities and the perfect setting for private parties and barbecues.
Pickleball is probably the fastest growing sport in America and Rarity Bay is no exception. And why not enjoy a game while enjoying breathtaking mountain and lake views. In November 2017 Rarity Bay Country Club (RBCC) built four dedicated pickleball courts. The Rarity Bay Pickleball Club (RBPC) has created a Thursday evening event called “Dink & Dine” which is a great way to get some exercise and meet new members.
If you’re considering a move to Tennessee and love golf and boating, there’s nothing more scenic and serene than what you will find at Rarity Bay. To experience all that Rarity Bay has to offer, consider booking a Discovery Tour which includes accommodations, dinner at the Bay Bistro, and a round of golf. For more information, you can schedule a visit by giving them a call at (423) 884-3020 or visit them online at www.raritybayliving.com.