Forest Hill Golf Course
Green’s Fee/Cart Fee 18 holes: $35
Thursday afternoon I was trying to figure out my plans to play this weekend when Joel asked me if I wanted to play at 7:37 A.M. near Millington,TN with his friend Stephen. One thing I’ve realized is older guys like to play early. It felt like a round with my dad growing up. We always wanted one of the first tee times so I could play and not hold up other members. Pardon my nostalgia, I said yes and was excited. Joel has this uncanny ability to be able to describe every hole on any golf course he has ever played right off the top of his head. After about 30 minutes talking in his office, I had a full scouting report on the course.
The course was founded in 1994 by Kazou Kubo, who’s title is listed as Owner and Director of Turf Operations. You’ve got to appreciate the versatility with that title. Another interesting fact is that he designed the course himself. I think he needs to throw Golf Course Architect behind his name just to show us what all he has in his toolbox. The course plays 6658 YDS from the Blue Tees with a course and slope rating of 71.8/128. Not the longest course but certainly not the shortest I have ever played. I left Memphis just before 6, swung thru McDonalds for a BEC McGriddle for some preround fuel and headed north on Highway 51 toward Millington. You pass the turn for Mirimichi Golf Course, owned by Justin Timberlake, and keep going until you get to Millington. You head West back toward the river for about 10 minutes, soybean fields line the road, until you get to Kubo Road. I had made it. With about 30 minutes to spare I got a bucket of balls and headed to the range where Joel and Stephen were loosening up. The range is in what I assume is Kazou’s backyard. That’s the dream, have a 300 yd range a stone throw from your back porch. Well done sir, well done. I hit about 30 balls, feeling pretty good considering this is the earliest round I’ve played in about 8 years. Stephen had a new hybrid in the bag which he was showing off to Joel. Once show and tell ended we headed to the first tee.
The first hole is a 300-yard par 4 that dog legs hard back to the right. I play it safe and hit a 5 iron into the middle of the fairway and we were off. I hit the green in regulation and as we approach the green, there is a surprise waiting for us. Not a bag of money or a box of Pro V1’s but a hole that was at least double the size of a standard cup. I have never seen anything like this and halfway thought this was some first hole joke. We move on to the 2nd hole tee box and there is a green next to the tee box. Out of curiosity, I run over to see if this hole was cut in the strangely large size. Low and behold, it is. All aboard the goofy golf express. Its just absurd. How can you even count this score, when in theory you should be able to take dead aim, don’t leave it short and make everything. What it did was play on your focus. Having a double hole only helps a little giving you about 3 more inches all around, but you still have to get the pace and line correct. To counteract the circus cups, they stuck every single pin on a side hill, spine, or extreme downhill. Ol’ Kubo pulled a card out of Mike Davis’ playbook and ran with it. I digress.
I card a nice double bogey on the par 5 2nd hole after a chunked lay-up, fat approach shot, chip from behind a railroad tie and a nice 3 putt. That was the wake-up call. The 3rd hole is a 185-yard Par 3 with a 25-foot elevation change with the illusion of hitting thru a shoot. We are on in regulation and make par. Next is a short par 4 that is drive-able if you can move it over or around a 60’ oak tree in the middle of the fairway. The entire hole is uphill and slopes severely to the left. Another unique feature around this course is that instead of 150 markers in the middle of the fairways like most courses, the 200,150, 100-yard marks are boxwood bushes on either side of the fairway. Sounds like a great idea, right? Well it was until Stephen smoked a drive down the right side of the fairway, takes one hop, and disappears into the bush. We get to it, and his ball is buried a foot deep inside. You don’t see that every day. I nearly drove the green, pitched up close and made my birdie, it was center cup which made me feel better. That became a common phrase throughout the round, judging if you thought it would have gone in a normal cup.
Number 5 is another drive-able Par 4. I drove the green off the tee on this one but managed to 3 put from about 65 feet. I make par on the uphill Par 3, 6th hole after a well struck 6 irons. The course plays longer than the scorecard shows. For a municipal course, the elevation changes and uniqueness of the holes required you to hit an array of golf shots. The rough is thick causing us to drive over balls and take the entire 3-man search committee to find the ball, similar to the Dustin Johnson squad from the US Open. The 7th epitomizes the term “dog-leg” as it turns a full 90 degrees back to the left. If you hit your tee shot straight and over about 235 yards you are going to be thru the fairway with only another 10 yards to spare before going OB. I elect to hit a 4 iron about 215 yards and have about 140 into the green. I fly the green and have a downhill pitch back to the pin that’s on the front of the green. A bad pitch and two putts lead to a bogey. On to the 8th hole which is a straight away Par 5 listed at 578 from the blue tees. A wayward tee shot, poorly executed punch/layup, blocked 3 metal OB, well struck 2nd 3 wood attempt, and up and down leads to my second double on a Par 5. Needless to say, I wasn’t capitalizing on them. I round out the front nine with a bogey 5 on the uphill Par 4 ninth. We are out in 41, probably the strangest nine holes I’ve ever played. The ninth green is right by the range which is about 500 yards from the clubhouse. we keep it moving and make the turn.
Local rules are one of the more interesting aspects of the game of golf. The 10th is a mirror image of the 9th hole. On the card it is listed at 390 but as the crow flies its more like 310. To keep longer hitters honest, the gentleman’s rule states anything right of the number 9 cart path plays as OB. I want no part of that after the nice +5, 3 hole stretch from hell. My drive goes straight and thru the fairway, leaving an uphill knuckled down lie in the rough. The turf guy has been feeding the rough well this summer because none of my ball is above the top of the grass. Channeling my best Tiger impersonation, I bear down on a 9 iron and some how get it on the front of the green. 2 putts and a par ends the tumultuous skid. Update on the group, more “Big Hole” jokes have been made than we can count but its hard not to when we manage to lip out putts. The “S” shaped Par 5 requires 3 shots no matter your length, making it one of the better holes on the tract. The Par 3 12th is a monster 255-yard hole playing 275. 3 wood was the club and I got away with par. Joel not known for his distance nor his choice in ball color teed up his Blazer Red Callaway and took his driver pin high, finishing with a 4 . Stephen, who is having mixed emotions about that new hybrid he bought, wound up on the next hole’s tee box 60 yards left and had to settle for a 5. Joel and I make par and Stephen repeats with another 5 on the short Par 4 13th.
If you thought that this round couldn’t be any stranger, you were wrong. The scorecard reads 4/5 for the par on the 495 yard 14th hole. Joel known for being 220 down the middle declares, “this starts the 3 straight par 5’s I was telling y ’all about!” Stephen and I both scratch our heads and ask him how he manages that considering the next hole is clearly marked a Par 4. From that point on, Joel played every hole as if it was a Par 5. More from his lay ups than his scoring. Joel “birdies” the hole and Stephen and I take bogeys like real men. After a great tee shot, there wasn’t much else to speak of after having a straight away 8 iron into what I consider the best approach views on the course. 16 looks like a boomerang but I played it more like pinball. Somehow, I managed to get up and in from the trees to save par. As we pull up to the swampy Par 3 17th, the song changes to Born on the Bayou by CCR. You would have thought that was the golf gods sending birdies like manna from heaven. Instead it was 3 balls in the water and three 5’s on the hall. Every song involving water hazards is getting removed from that Spotify playlist. The home hole is a blind tee shot over the corner of a lake that runs along the right side of the fairway. I rip my drive straight thru the 18th fairway and into the 1st fairway. Using the Pine tree behind the clubhouse as an aiming point, I fire a 7 iron into the green from about 175 yards out. I’m left with a 10-footer, downhill, with about 3 foot of break, and one large hole in front of me. How sweet a birdie would be after this adventure? Like every other putt of significance, the hole didn’t help so I settled for par. I’m in with another 41 rounding out the 82 with an asterisk next to it. Stephen matches me with an 82 and Joel ends up with a 93 but played 7 shots better on the back than the front. Must
have been all those Par 5’s he had.
Today taught me a few things. First of all, play early. Get out there as early as you can. Something about that time of day makes a golf course look a little greener, feel a little nicer, and definitely much cooler in the July heat. Second, play with people who are older than you because you can learn a lot about golf and life from them. Lastly, as golfers we tend to get caught up in the name of the course we are playing or how smooth the greens are. Today showed that even with non-regulation golf holes, some extra tight lies, and interesting architecture that you can still have a great time playing golf.
All things considered the course was in fair shape, there were some unique golf holes that required you to hit quality shots or you were penalized. With that being said I’m going to rank it a 5.2/10. Would I go out of my way to play there again? Probably not, but add another course to the list. For more information about the course visit https://foresthillgolfcourse.com/
Heads up for our next course review of TPC Southwind.