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235 Harbour Greens Pl
Sparta, TN  38583-4289
United States
P: (931) 761-8124
Riverwatch Course

18 hole regulation length course

Public golf course

72 par | 6,850 yards

Zoysia grass

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Riverwatch Golf Course

The 18-hole "Riverwatch" course at the Riverwatch Golf Club facility in Sparta, Tennessee features 6,850 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 72. Designed by Peter Jacobsen/Jim Hardy, the Riverwatch golf course opened in 2012. Peter Ferguson manages the course as the General Manager.


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Beverages Available (1) Cart Included (1) Challenging (1) Food Available (1) Friendly Staff (1) Great Deal (1) Pro Shop (1) Putting Green (1) Scenic (1) Walkable (1)

Reviewed October 06, 2020

Most people look forward to retirement; they see it as a way to wind down and take it easy. Many retirees like to travel and spend more time with the kids and grandkids. Some take up hobbies and low-impact sports; for many, it’s playing more golf. Some get involved in the game and take it seriously, others simply buy the course.

While it may be a great way to get that preferred tee time on a regular basis, most people would eschew the idea of owning a golf course, especially during their golden years. John Fitzmartin does not fit this narrative. His initial goal was to invest in his neighborhood golf course in an effort to keep up property values in the area. He was a member of the course, enjoyed playing it, and knew it well. To make a long story short, one thing led to another and he became the owner of Riverwatch Golf Club & Resort in Sparta, TN a couple of years ago.

Riverwatch sits perched high above Tennessee’s largest body of water, Center Hill Lake. The course is cut from the natural landscape and the holes tend to follow the contours of the land. The rolling hillsides and picturesque plateaus paint a picture on each hole and do a great job of melding golf and nature. No two holes are alike, many of the holes are tree-lined, with sharp drop-offs if you push your shot beyond the tree line. Dramatic elevation changes, testing doglegs, well-manicured Zoysia fairways, and well-placed bunkers lead to Bentgrass greens. Bunkers have been strategically placed and come into play off the tees and around the green complexes. Many of the bunkers are still a work in progress while the greens are incredible; lush, well-maintained and roll true. Each hole seems to get a little more challenging as you make your way around the course.

Riverwatch offers golfers 5 sets of tees and can be played anywhere from 6,850 – 4,629 yards, so there’s a distance for every level of golfer. The emphasis is on accuracy rather than length. For the most part, this 18-hole championship golf course was designed by PGA TOUR professional Peter Jacobsen and his course architect partner Jim Hardy. The original owners deviated from the course’s original routing: what is currently the 3rd hole was designed to be the first hole and the current design’s first and second holes were added to the layout. When you play the course the integration is seamless; it’s hard to believe the first two holes weren’t part of the original plans. The 3rd hole is one of the tougher holes on the course. It’s an uphill par 5 dogleg right that requires an accurate tee shot and a layup shot that finds the narrow tree-lined fairway. Had this remained the first hole, I think it a lot of golfers would have been extremely challenged right out of the gate and it may have soured them on the rest of their round.

Before your round, head to Riverwatch’s full-length driving range where you can hit every club in the bag into a variety of target greens. There’s also a short game area and putting green that entices you to work on those often neglected parts of your golf game.

Riverwatch has several memorable holes. The front nine ends with a testing par 3 that plays 183 yards from the gold tees. There’s water and sand left so if you’re going to miss, hit it right. The green sits at an angle and the difference between a front and back pin can be 2 or 3 clubs.

Holes 11 – 15 can make or break your round and includes two or the course’s three toughest holes. Number 11 is a 329-yard, slight dogleg right with a blind tee shot. Hit a good drive down the left side, catch the downslope and you may find your drive on or close to the green. It’s a great chance to put up a low number and get the back nine going early. Number 12 is a 500-yard par 5 with a slight dogleg right. It’s a semi-blind tee shot and anything left is probably gone. You can bail out to the right if need be but if you hit it down the hill on 13, pack a lunch; it’s a long hike back up the hill! Hit a good drive, avoid the bunkers on the right and you can conceivably get home in two. The green is protected by a single pot bunker front left. Par or better is a great score here and gets you ready for what’s next.

Number 13 is Riverwatch’s toughest test. The hole plays 416 yards downhill off the tee and the entire fairway slopes right to left. Play down the right side and it’s pretty much a given that you’ll be playing from the left side of the fairway. Anything hit down the left is pretty much gone. A good drive will leave a mid to short iron uphill over a stone wall to an elevated green protected in front by bunkers on either side. Take a par – or bogie – and run!

Now that you’ve survived 13 it’s on to a 146-yard par 3 that is all carry over a creek with a bunker in the front middle. The green has some good undulation in it. Anything left is likely lost.

Number 15 is a dogleg left, 375-yard par 4 that is the course’s #3 handicap. The hole starts to turn around the 200-yard mark so unless a draw is in your shot repertoire, you may want to consider something less than driver off the tee. Your approach shot plays downhill to a medium-sized green. Finishing the hole with the same ball you started with goes a long way in posting a good score on this hole.

Your round ends on another scenic Riverwatch hole. Number 18 is a 458-yard par 5 that requires tremendous accuracy off the tee. Hit a good drive down the middle of the fairway off the tee and you could find yourself with the opportunity to get on in two. The green sits at an angle to the fairway and is protected by a large bunker front right. Par – or better – is a great way to end your round.

John Fitzmartin takes a considerable amount of pride in his golf course and why shouldn’t he. He’s probably the most actively involved course owner I’ve ever met. He’s done just about every job imaginable on the course, from running mowers to overhauling tractor engines to building the beautiful railroad tie steps up to the 3rd green. Did you know a railroad tie weighs 200 pounds? Fitzmartin gives a lot of the credit on Riveratch’s resurgence to Course Superintendent David Phillips. “When I bought the course, many of the greens were shot. The maintenance staff we had in place at the time was not getting the job done. Since bringing David on board, all of the greens are now in pristine condition, hold approach shots and roll true.” The pair are currently overhauling most of the bunkers and have eliminated some that were extremely high maintenance. As you make your way around the course, you’ll see these improvements for yourself. The more you play, the more improvements, you’ll see!

If you haven’t played Riverwatch in a while or had something less than a memorable experience the last time you played it, I suggest you give it another try. Golfers from Nashville to Crossville have found their way back to the club and are amazed at the renovations that have been done. If you’re traveling from farther away, Riverwatch has some amazing accommodations available right off the first tee with spectacular views of the first 2 holes. Choose from three styles of condos: Studio, Deluxe Suite, and the luxurious Grand Suite, a 2 room villa with a walk-in tile shower, a separate soaking tub, leather club chairs, and a leather sleeper sofa. There’s also a 55” 4K Smart TV to watch your favorite game. There’s also a covered patio with a great view of the golf course.

Beverages Available Cart Included Challenging Food Available Friendly Staff Great Deal Pro Shop Putting Green Scenic Walkable
Reviewed August 27, 2009

Reviewed April 30, 2009

Played Riverwatch in late April 2009. They had recently punched the greens, so the greens were slow. Would think that the course would be excellent in mid May when all the grass has greened out good. The fairways were in excellent shape, even for late April. It is a very, very challenging course and requires alot of local knowledge to play. Would recommend playing it !

Reviewed September 12, 2008

Played the course on 9-10-08 could not have asked for a better kept course. Don't know where some negative comments previously played but it sure wasn't the course that I just played. True there is no big fancy clubhouse but who needs that to play golf on a great course. Staff was very gratious.

Reviewed August 02, 2008

This is a beautiful course. IT IS WORTH THE DRIVE! I am guessing COACHN got lost - but, if you want to challenge your skills this course will do it. The staff is great. The greens are challenging. The course IS VERY well kept. I have a 18 handicap, my spouse a 6 and have played some great courses - this is amongst them.

Reviewed May 04, 2008


Reviewed August 07, 2007

It looks like a course that is making no money, May 2007

This course is bad, they are short on money from the looks of things, it looks aweful, no one is taking care of it, in the heat of summer, no cart girl, and about one maintenance guy, this course is not worth a five minute drive. The tee boxes are composed of weeds, the ruff is over grown clover, I can't imagine how this course can survive for another year, I would be suprised if it were still open in 2008. I played this course when it was new, it is sad to see how it has deteriorated since it's opening, on a rating of 1 to 5, I would give the course about a 1 now, very sad to see it waste away. I just read that the above noted comments did not understand what i was talking about, the staff told me they did not have money to hire a worker in the winter to get the course ready, they laughed at the idea of ever having a clubhouse and said they were just hanging on, the course is bad and the staff knows it.

Reviewed July 14, 2007

This wonderful Resort course is fun but also offers a unique challenge for all ages and skill levels. The course offers yardages ranging from 6,850 yards to 4,629 yards among five sets of tees. After reading all the bad reviews, I can not understand why these people do not feel the course is "up to par." The course is in the best shape of the seven years of its existence. The course is also in the process of beginning construction on the new Club House within the next month to two months. This fine Resort course also offers a Junior Golf clinic, taught by instructor Eddie Hobson, in the Spring and Fall of each year. I urge you to come see these beautiful Bent grass greens and Zyosia fairways for yourself. Let your experience at RiverWatch Resort be the judge of how you rate the course. You will not find a more beautiful nor a more challenging course anywhere in this part of Tennessee. Come and experience RiverWatch Resort.

Reviewed July 12, 2007

Try this very nice course for yourself, and don't be misled by the May 27 review. We played the course in 2006 and in July 07 and found it to be well maintained with lush fairways, nice but challenging greens, and new carts this year. The rough is environmentally sensitive with a variety of wildlife to be observed--rabbits, deer, wild turkeys, and groundhogs. The first cut beyond the fairways has mixed grasses and is not as even as the fairways, which is what one expects. Don't let the initial curb appeal of the gravel parking area and temporary pro-shop influence your decision. This is an excellent course with many challenges that you will enjoy. The course has four sets of tees, allowing players to choose degree of difficulty. The twilight rates are a real bargain.

Reviewed May 07, 2007

One of the best new courses in central Tennessee

I have played this course many times and have never been disappointed in its playability and overall appeal. The price is fair and they even have a special program for frequent players. I've read other comments complaining about dormant bermuda grass. To my knowledge that's a function of seasonality not lack of maintenance. Play it.

Reviewed April 23, 2007

Late April, 2007, looked so bad, did not tee off.

This course is a selection in a three-round golf weekend package offered in the Fairfield Glade, Tennessee area. Being from out of state, we had never been to the course. We were so disappointed by the appearance of the course and its dormant Bermuda fairways that we didn't even unload our clubs. We went to the trailer housing the pro shop and was told that there had been difficulties in recruiting manpower for maintaining the course during the winter.

This appears to be a shoestring operation. We may try it again someday if we can get assurance that the operation and conditions have greatly improved. We do appreciate the course and golf package company committing to returning our greens fees.

Please note: I rated Difficulty and Scenery at three stars only because a rating was required to get my opinion recorded.

Reviewed August 22, 2006

Tennessee Jewel!

Riverwatch Golf Club is quite possibly the best kept secret in the state of Tennessee. The course is quaintly nestled in the mountains and hills surrounding Center Hill Lake. Located between Sparta and Smithville, TN makes Riverwatch easily accessable from Nashville, Knoxville,and Chattanooga. The course is perfectly manicured and all carts are GPS equipped. Many of the holes have scenic views overlooking the lake and very challenging approaches to the greens.
This is the best $45.00 golf to be found anywhere in the Southeast!


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  • Latest Scores
  • Overall
Rank Golfer Name Handicap Gross Net Date
1 Meg H. 8 76 68 10/25/12
2 Eric E. 11 90 79 05/22/13
3 SEIJI K. 14 95 81 08/25/12
4 Jeffrey J. 1 82 81 08/26/09
5 will M. 11 96 85 09/18/09
See All
Rank Golfer Name Handicap Gross Net Date
8 Steven W. N/A 124 124 11/16/19

Golf Course Information

About Riverwatch

Riverwatch Golf Club

Community facility

15 tees driving range

18 regulation holes

Awards at Riverwatch

No recent major awards have been noted.

Tournaments of Riverwatch

No local tournaments listed for this course. Add a tournament here.

Course Staff

Peter Ferguson, General Manager
Dave Phillips, Superintendent

Nearby Courses

Sparta Golf & Country Club
Reviews (2)
Public, 9 holes
2759 yards, par 35
14.2 miles from center of Sparta

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Nearby Golf Stores

B J Discount Golf


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