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Sweetens Cove, beloved 9-holer, to close for 3 months: 'Not an easy decision'

Sweetens Cove will close this summer following a challenging winter.

One of the toughest times in public golf has just been impossible for most of the summer.

Struck by unusually cold weather that has ravaged its grounds, Sweetens Cove, a popular 9-hole golf course in South Pittsburg, Tenn., near Chattanooga, announced Sunday that it will be closed from May 24 to Aug. 31. Play will resume on September 1.

“It's not an easy decision but it's the right decision,” Sweetens Cove general manager Mike Adamski told “It's the right decision for the golf course, and for all the people who come here to enjoy it.”

The news, announced by Sweetens Cove on social media, comes in the middle of what could have been a high-quality golf season in Tennessee, in the middle of a year where the weather has been unseasonable. The first big curveball from Mother Nature came in January, Adamski said, when six inches of snow fell in 36 hours across the region which historically averages a quarter of an inch of snow a year. When the snow stopped falling, the temperatures dropped even more, and, Adamski said, “the snow turned into snow that stayed with us for the next nine days.”

Turf at Sweetens Cove is Bermudagrass, a warm-season varietal that grows slowly through most of fall and winter, and begins to hit its stride as temperatures rise in late spring and early summer. This year, the grass didn't get a chance to fully wake up. Sweetens Cove is a year-round facility. Initially hoping that conditions would improve, management kept the course open for play, offering discounts in low conditions. But as cold weather multiplied and the world continued to struggle, Adamski said, it became clear that a temporary shutdown was the only option.

“People come here for a unique experience, and we want to provide that,” Adamski said. “To get them all out here and the lessons don't meet their expectations, it won't be good for us, and it won't do them justice.”

Instead of regular tee times, Sweetens Cove offers day passes, the annual price of which is picked up a few minutes after release (high season prices are $125 for a walk and $175 for a cart). The entire 2024 calendar has been booked solid since its inception.

Sweetens Cove in Tennessee.

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The closure will displace about 3,500 golfers, Adamski said. As compensation, the course is offering first-time golfers 2025 passes, at a 25 percent discount. Golfers who qualify between now and the May 24 closing can use those passes and play the course at a discount, or reschedule for 2025, Adamski said.

Designed by Rob Collins and Thad King, Sweetens Cove has charted a unique path to success since opening in 2015, going from cult club to mainstream juggernaut, with an ownership group that now includes Peyton Manning and Andy Roddick.

Located in the Tennessee River Valley, Sweetens Cove was forced to close earlier but for other reasons. The longest of those times came in 2019, when courses were closed for 47 days because of flooding, Adamski said. Another brief closure occurred during a brief spell of unusually snowy winter weather, when maintenance workers had to seal vegetables to protect them from the cold.

This is a very disruptive weather shutdown. But, Adamski said, Sweetens Cove plans to use the downtime to its full advantage by adding sauce and refining the entire course.

“When we reopen, it will be like a new course,” he said. “The conditions will be better than before.”

Josh Sens Editor

Golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a contributor to GOLF Magazine since 2004 and now contributes to all aspects of GOLF. His work has been honored in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Have Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.

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