RedTail Mountain Golf Course, located 20 miles west of Boone in Mountain City, Tenn., has been in existence for 32 years. Exciting changes taking place this year have changed it from a local favorite to an up-and-coming resort destination.
The course was originally named Roan Valley Golf Course. The scenic layout was designed by the father-son team of Ellis and Dan Maples, both Hall of Fame golf architects. Half of the course lies in the valley (2,500 feet elevation) and half winds around the hillsides to create almost 500 feet in elevation change. Several holes have spectacular elevation drops where tee shots seem to fly forever against the dramatic backdrop of neighboring peaks. The course sits on the Eastern Continental Divide.
In 2006, a group purchased the course and built a beautiful clubhouse and some condominiums nearby. They changed the course’s name to RedTail Mountain and planned on making changes necessary for the course to become a destination.
“After going on the property we pinched ourselves because we couldn’t believe there was something that nice that was undiscovered,” one of the partners said. “It was a jewel in the rough. A little tender loving care would make it something special.”
The new owners brought Dan Maples back to assess the course, and he felt very few changes needed to be made. “It is really a neat golf course. The course works and plays well. It is set up right,” Maples said.
Unfortunately, the Great Recession of 2007-2010 derailed a number of golf resorts, including RedTail. The “tender loving care” didn’t happen because of financial constraints. The course was put up for sale in 2011.
In 2013, the Habermehl family from Ontario, Canada, purchased the 850-acre property with the intent of providing the missing pieces and making it a polished jewel for golfers to enjoy as a true resort destination. The family has the financial wherewithal and the love for RedTail to make the golf course into an exceptional resort with full amenities.
With all the changes that have taken place over the years at the property, there has been one constant, director of golf Sam Adams. When inspecting the property to consider purchasing it, Lyle Habermehl met Adams and was taken by his passion for RedTail.
“I saw in Sam and the people he worked with a love for this place, and that love was contagious. I caught it and so did my family.”
The family, under the leadership of general manager Vernon Brady, Lyle’s brother-in-law, has wasted little time in making improvements.
“Our mission is to take this beautiful place here at RedTail and remake it into one of the finest mountain golf resorts in the High Country, yet keep it affordable for the avid golfer,” Brady said.
They replaced the sand in the bunkers with the same pure white sand used at Augusta National and many of the nation’s finest courses. They increased the course maintenance budget. They are building a swimming pool and tennis courts, and are adding a fitness center in the 19,000 square-foot clubhouse.
The family also upgraded and converted the seven three-bedroom condominiums near the clubhouse into stay-and-play lodging, adding private baths for each bedroom. Lyle’s wife, Kendal, added a nice touch with luxury linens and high-end pillow-top mattresses. The kitchens are modern and stylish, and each unit has a fireplace and scenic view. And more condominiums are planned.
The Habermehls purchased 32 acres of prime, gently sloping land on Lake Watauga, which will include a shelter and docks for RedTail members and guests. The pristine lake borders the Cherokee National Forest and is considered the third cleanest in the country. The lake is only 20 minutes from RedTail.
Next year, the resort will add a spa, a new pro shop and a putting green next to the new first tee (the nines were switched). Within the next five years, the resort will add three new scenic holes on the mountain side of the course and create a state-of-the art practice facility to include a short-game area. RedTail will become semi-private and gated at night.
“Golfers like the individuality of the holes and the variety of the terrain,” Adams said. “It’s a very enjoyable course to play.”
Brady’s emphasis on quality service and affordability is evident not only in his management (he seems to be everywhere at once taking care of guests), but his example has rubbed off on his staff. His wife, Lynn, shares general manager duties with him. She has made RedTail’s restaurant the top dining experience in the area.
When asked why the family purchased the course with more courses and resorts closing now than opening, Lyle Habermehl said, “RedTail is more than just golf. The resort will help the area grow and bring in jobs.”
For information on RedTail, visit RedTailMountain.com. or call 423-727-7600. Tee times can be made online. The resort has a mobile app that gives yardages, weather and even golf tips from Adams, who played the PGA Tour for seven years and was a Tour winner.