WindRiver - Best Golf Community of the Year

With over 100 of the best golf communities in the South showcased on our website, it’s not easy every year to determine which one is the very best. Ask any golfer, and you’ll find that some prefer courses with scenic beauty while others prefer courses that are reasonably easy to play. After playing dozens of courses, the one we talk about over and over at the dinner table is the one that burnt an indelible impression in our minds. This year, that golf course is WindRiver in Eastern Tennessee.

Set on a peninsular protruding out into Tellico Lake, the gated community has enjoyed massive improvements since 2012 under its new ownership by a University of Tennessee alumni, Joe Ayers. He clearly has proven in a short time that the community is on the pathway to becoming one of the best master planned communities in Tennessee. The topography is very appealing, with towering rolling hills and hilltop knolls exposing beautiful views of Tellico Lake. Built in 2007, the WindRiver golf course designed by Bob Cupp, was designated as Tennessee's first Certified Audubon Signature Golf Course. The par-72 bentgrass greens course features 6 sets of tees ranging from 4,700 yards on the forward tees to 7,225 yards from the championship tees. Members can literally enjoy a different golf experience on a single course 6 days a week, making it one of the ideal places to live close to Knoxville.

In the spring of 2015, WindRiver completed a $1 million golf course renovation project that improved fairway drainage, added 14 new forward tee boxes, reconstructed every bunker on the course and added a new Top of the Hill Bar & Grill. The front nine holes are closest to the lake and the back nine are more private. The facilities include a comprehensive practice facility and short game area. We thought the iced mango towels and unlimited range balls added a classy touch to the experience. Each golf hole was more alluring than the previous accented by colorful flowers, running creeks and/or undulating greens. Like massive waves in the ocean, some of the fairways can be quite intimidating as they slope and can be fast. We love a challenge, so to us, that’s part of what makes WindRiver special. In reality, we found that with the proper course management, one can easily stay out of trouble and avoid the water hazards. You can literally use every club in your bag. One property owner provides a helpful tip in saying “playing the correct tee box makes it a wonderful experience.”

WindRiver is a lakefront community offering far more than golf. From the elegant Citigo’s Restaurant & Club to the state-of-the-art 81 boat slip marina, home owners at WindRiver have all the luxuries at home that one would expect to find in the best golf communities. In 2015, WindRiver experienced some major milestones:

The opening of the Signature Sports & Wellness Club – A newly completed outdoor complex features pool, spa, dipping pool, tennis courts, pickle ball courts, basketball court, event lawn and restroom facilities.

WindRiver Harbor & Yacht Club – The $1.5 million upgrades included 37 new covered slips for a total of 98 covered slips, and 34 new uncovered transient slips for a total of 132 covered and uncovered slips, as well as new lighting and security gates on each dock.

WindRiver Golf Club – The $1 million golf course renovation project improved fairway drainage, added 14 new forward tee boxes and reconstructed every bunker on the course.

WindRiver Golf Club Grill – The new “Top of the Hill Grill” restaurant opened offering lunch service for golfers and guests and occasional extended weekend services for watching various sporting events under the Pavilion at the Top of the Hill Grill.

The Highlands – WindRiver held a Grand Opening on August 15, 2015 at the Highlands, a collection of 12 new residential cottages developed to offer single-family homes, parks and gardens from the mid $400’s. The English Country-styled neighborhood already has three homes built.

Two New Parks Completed – The “Highlands Green” and the “Highlands Park” are landscaped and maintained common areas developed as a part of the Highlands neighborhood that all property owners at WindRiver may enjoy using.

Custom Homes – The community has welcomed five new completed custom homes with six more under construction. These are at various building stages, including some nearing completion.

Citico’s Restaurant & Club – The fine dining restaurant celebrated its 1st anniversary in July and expanded its operating hours. Citico’s was awarded an Open Table’s Diner’s Choice award in 2015 (Open Table picked the top 5 restaurants with the highest ratings in the greater Knoxville area). We’ve dined here and it’s excellent! The Lakeside Inn at Citico’s features overnight guest accommodations.

East Lakeshore Trail – The forested 26-mile trail system that skirts the eastern shoreline of Tellico Lake now includes new connecting trails through the WindRiver community. For hikers, WindRiver is one of the ideal places to live in close proximity to Knoxville. 

Still on the horizon, new amenities planned include Cosmo’s Bar & Grill at the marina, Bridgewater Park, a fitness center and saunas in the Wellness Center.

WindRiver has some of the most beautiful homes we’ve seen in Eastern Tennessee. Homes begin in the mid $300k’s and can easily exceed $2 million. Membership to the club is mandatory, which we believe is a smart thing to do. The initiation fee is $30,000. Full golf dues are $4,950 per year and social dues $1,650. Golf is a high stakes game and it’s smart business to require everyone at WindRiver to invest in one of the best golf communities in Tennessee. We look forward to playing WindRiver again, our 2016 Bliss Award winner for Best Golf Community of the Year. 

For a private tour of WindRiver, call Karen Milikan of On the Lake Realty at 423-519-3258.

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