OPINION: Hillbilly Golf is a rite of passage for Smoky Mountain visitors

HillBilly Golf

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Hillbilly Golf is definitely an “I’ve been to Gatlinburg” checklist item. If you haven’t been there, have you really been to Gatlinburg? Admit it – even the most high-brow among you have curiously followed the incline as it climbs the mountain – wondering what exactly was on top. Go ahead and get on – you’re on vacation! It’s okay to do something a little outside your normal entertainment standards. You can always blame it on the kids (or the moonshine samples) Locals may think it plays up our Appalachian heritage in the wrong way, Hillbilly Golf is a favorite when my out-of-town relatives visit. 

Hillbilly Golf features two great mini-golf courses. What makes it different than other mini-golf courses in the area is the location and the transportation. A cart takes you up the mountain to the attraction. Mountain might be an overstatement, but up is not. If this was any steeper, you would blast off into space at the end. Don’t worry, it’s a smooth and steady ride. The trip is short and you don’t have time to be nervous about the ride. The cart holds six or nine people, so your family won’t be separated. 

At the top of the mountain, you’ll find two challenging courses. These can be made into world class courses with difficult holes for competitive families. Younger players will be mesmerized by the folksy holes. An aunt once compared it to visiting the set of Hee Haw (worth googling if you don’t remember.) Many Appalachian stereotypes are here: moonshine stills, wagons and outhouses (just for display.)

This is probably a good time to tell those who have a serious problem a fear of heights, that they might want to choose a more grounded mini-golf course. Consider skipping Hillbilly Golf if heights have previously led to panic attacks, temporary paralysis or stomach problems. This is not meant to be funny. The courses are completely outside, so you will always be aware of your location.

Hillbilly Golf almost burned completely during the 2017 fire and the incline was replaced. Owners wisely worked some of the damage into the landscaping for the course. Think of the root of a downed tree forming an obstacle. 

The cost of admission is $12.50 a person. Children four through 12 are $8.50 and children under three free. (Of course, Tennessee adds sales tax to all of these prices.) The standard discounts are offered: senior citizens, active duty and veterans, and first responders. You can’t really compare it to any other mini-golf because Hillbilly Golf is so much more. Too much for your budget? Check Groupon for family packages. 

Hillbilly Golf is open from March through November. Hours are 9 a.m.-10 p.m. During the early spring and fall months, the ride is dark and the course is lit. Visitors are treated to a view of the Gatlinburg lights that can’t be topped. Hillbilly Golf closes for weather. If you’re on top and are forced to leave because of a storm, you’ll get a raincheck. 

FYI: a limited number of parking spaces are available in front of the business. Plan on spending an hour for one course, 90 minutes to two hours for both courses. This is a fun place for photographs. Snacks are available, but don’t arrive hungry, as real food is not available. 

Visit the Hillbilly Golf Facebook Page

Tickets: The cost of admission is $12.50 a person. Children four through 12 are $8.50 and children under three free

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at [email protected] for questions or comments.

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