September 07, 2021 at 11:00am | Danesha Ritzberg

First came the golf. Scenic Land Company purchased Northwest Georgia’s former Canyon Ridge Golf Club in 2018 and rechristened it McLemore—after an 18th-century Cherokee chief, John McLemore, who was born to a Scottish fur trader and a Cherokee princess. The developers hired legendary golf designer Rees Jones and Atlanta’s own Bill Bergin to transform the course. The two crafted an enchanting mix of canyon holes with sharp elevation changes (number six drops 100 feet); grassy, Scottish-style highland holes; and cliff holes, which hug the brow of Lookout Mountain. The brand new final hole is take-your-breath-away spectacular, named this century’s best 18th by Golf Digest. Reminiscent of Pebble Beach, the fairway nestles up to dramatic ridges—only the “sea” below is often made of clouds.

Second came the clubhouse and restaurant, the Creag, which opened last winter. Its zinc-and-slate roof, two-sided stone fireplace, timbered ceiling, and wall of glass doors topped with clerestory windows make for a cozy retreat. But it’s also surrounded by wide stone patios and a beer garden, which accommodate social distancing. Tackle the adjoining six-hole short course with just a wedge and a putter. (Plans call for it to be lighted at night.)

Now, the team is at last focusing on residential real estate. Duane Horton, president of Scenic Land Company, says their goal had been to get the amenities up to “brand standards” first. The master plan calls for several hundred homes in some half dozen neighborhoods, with settings ranging from forests and canyons to golf course views. Although McLemore is drawing interest from adjoining areas in Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama, the community already has attracted residents from as far away as Texas, California, and Alaska. Currently, homes start in the high $600,000s, and Horton hopes soon to announce townhomes priced around $500,000. (Visitors can access the course through the stay-and-play program, from $250 per night. A hotel is also on the horizon.)

Despite the grand plans, Horton says McLemore’s greatest draw is the land itself. The community is surrounded by state parks, national parks, and private land trusts that ensure its beauty will be preserved. The area’s dramatic topography has long been a destination for hikers, mountain bikers, rock climbers, hang gliders, and other outdoor enthusiasts; and the property itself includes hiking trails, waterfalls, and rock-climbing routes. Horton says, “You can drive right up and get views that many people would take a day hike just to enjoy. As excited as we are about our golf, we really want to be a base camp for this whole region.”



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