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Cheekwood Golf expansion won’t be like TopGolf, owner assures

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Cheekwood Golf Club rendering

Rendering of the new Cheekwood Golf Clubhouse, part of their new expansion plan.

Cheekwood Golf Club is in store for a facelift, according to a plan that’s been years in the making.

In 2017, plans for an expansion, including a golf academy, new clubhouse, banquet hall, driving range and lighting, were approved by the Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen. 

Located along Spencer Creek Road and Mack Hatcher Parkway, the expansion will include property across Mack Hatcher, behind Franklin First United Methodist Church.

Cheekwood, one of two public courses in Franklin, currently leases the 54-acre property from the city at a rate of nearly $73,000 per year, according to city documents. That amount is being reappraised in addition to the expansion.

Some of the planned features include:

• Upgrade to regulation 9-hole championship course

• Practice facility with a six-hole par 3 course

• Lighted driving range

• Three-story hitting bay

• Clubhouse with large event space and banquet hall

• Public trailhead connecting with Franklin’s trail system

On Tuesday evening, Cheekwood co-owner Todd Jester spoke to the Franklin BOMA about the club’s growth.

Jester will partner with Nicklaus Design to expand the course to a nine-hole regulation course, with a focus on a new golf training center. 

“Golf along with open space is kind of disappearing in Franklin right now, as we see open space in golf,” he said. “We’re poised now to really reinvest and really get golf back on the map.”

Jester said the project has received local backing from Franklin residents Paul Pratt and Jimmy Franks. 

Ward 4 Alderman Margaret Martin expressed concern about the lighting of the range and netting for the course. Jester explained the designers’ plan to utilize dark sky technology in creating course lighting. 

“It absolutely is not stadium lighting,” he said. “When you see the so-called TopGolfs, their calling card is huge stadium lighting in urban areas and huge, tall netting. They want you to see them from miles away. We absolutely do not want to be that.”

“Well, we don’t want to see you,” Martin said jokingly.

Cheekwood development representative Greg Gamble said details about the lighting and netting would be discussed in neighborhood meetings, a development workshop and in the development plan they intend to submit within the next two months.

Aldermen generally supported the proposal.

“There is a community of people who really miss the opportunity to publicly play golf, so I think you’re really hitting a strategic place there,” Alderman Brandy Blanton said. 

Alderman Dana McLendon said he supported the course expansion, reassured by promises it won’t become a gaudy tourist attraction.

“I don’t know exactly how I will know the difference between a TopGolf and an expansion of the golf course, but I’m pretty sure I’ll know the difference when I see it,” he said. “This weekend’s ‘woo-hoo’ girl buses reinforces my opposition to anything that becomes a TopGolf.”

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