Mirimichi is a Native American word for “place of happy retreat.” The challenging, expansive layout may cause you to have occasional moments of angst, but if you love playing the game in a park-like setting, you’ll be hard pressed to be unhappy for very long.
It's no secret that Mirimichi's owner, entertainer Justin Timberlake, loves golf. The 5-handicapper, who grew up nearby, purchased the run down golf course property (formerly known as Big Creek) in 2007 to save it from residential development. The course had sentimental value -- Timberlake's mother and stepfather, Lynn and Paul Harless, had their wedding reception at Big Creek in 1986, and Harless taught him to play there when he was just 5.
Timberlake hired relatively unheralded architect Bill Bergin (Auburn University Club) to oversee the redesign with the central theme of being environmentally conscious. The renovated course opened for play in 2008, and no expense was spared.
Mirimichi is the first course ever to receive Audubon Classic certification. And awards like the 2011 Tennessee Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award are likely to keep coming. On the course you notice things like recycle bins placed proudly next to refuse receptacles. (That’s green!) But the “behind the scenes” areas of conservation are the most important. A rainwater-capturing drainage system allows Mirimichi to use less water to keep the course green, and native areas on the course mean there is less to water and mow. The lakes on the course are interconnected by streams, and they have also installed a biodegradable rinse water treatment system.
But what about the golf?
Conditioning isn’t sacrificed for all this conservation. Beautiful teeing grounds, pure fairways, and huge greens -- that can run north of 13 on the stimp meter -- are contrasted with gorgeous white sand bunkers. Par is a good score on any hole of this well-treed layout, which offers as much variety as the kind of on-screen roles played by its owner. Not all of the water (either off the tee or near the green) is visible from the tee or fairway, so local knowledge comes into play here a bit more than at most courses. (I only had a chance to play Mirimichi once, and know I can knock several strokes off my score next time by playing smarter.)
The opener is a shortish par four with one of the course’s several lakes complicating things, especially if the pin is place on the left side of the green. One of my favorite holes, the 7th, tempts you to take on the bunkers separating the split fairway. Place your drive correctly, and it turns into a birdie hole. On the 10th, a forested area on the left side of the fairway makes the hole look tighter than it is. The really interesting part of this hole is the 120 yard deep green, with a brook running up the right side. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
The clubhouse has an indoor fitting center, and the practice and short game areas are complimented by a 9-hole short course called “Little Mirimichi.” The 1st and 10th tees require a short drive or walk (yes, the course is very walkable) from the clubhouse. Above those tees, with a panoramic view of the course, is a patio, pergola, and grill area that you should definitely plan on enjoying if you visit.
After all, Mirimichi wasn’t meant to be an “play quick and leave” kind of course. It’s a place to spend a day, relax, practice, play an “emergency nine,” take a lesson, or all of the above. It won’t break your bank, and it’s conveniently located near Memphis.