By Danny and Alice Scott
Let’s face it, we all have an eye open for where the grass might be greener, even when we are the most content. Traveling makes us wonder about living wherever we might go. During a recent visit to Tellico Village, 31 miles south of Knoxville, Tennessee, we were overwhelmed by the sense that this community is too good to be true. Celebrating 35 years, the golf, the people, and the pure nature in this gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains seem too good to be true. Is it?
Golf – Chris Sykes is the Director of Golf for all three championship courses at TV and he is loved by all. A Knoxville native with a Virginia Tech degree in agronomy, Chris worked at the prestigious Honors Course when Tiger won the NCAA Championship. For the last ten years, he has worked his way up the TV ranks, and it has paid off for the players, staff, and himself. The courses are brilliantly conditioned with large, strategically staged fans spinning behind the greens, serving as “the best fungicide.” They feel pretty good blowing on the golfers as well. Current golf superintendents at Toqua Golf Course are Jon North and Tyler Thies who like to keep the rough around one inch for enjoyable play. Toqua means fish in Cherokee and members of the TV Woodworkers’ Club hand carved fish markers for the tee boxes. Ancient woodworking without any hardware was deployed by a different artisan in crafting benches throughout the course for resting and taking in the wooded and lake views. Each hole has a name designated by the “’87 pioneers.”. #5 is “Shadows” for those casted by trees. #7 is “Devil’s Elbow” and #14, the signature hole on a cove of the lake is “Troubled Waters.” When the wind picks up, so do the wakes. Boaters often hang out here to float, swim and watch golf. Toqua Golf Course recently hosted the State Senior and Super-Senior 4-Ball Championships.
Tanasi Golf Course begins with a special clubhouse view of Tellico Lake and has several holes skirting its shores. One of those is #9 which Chris says is the only bad hole because of TVA restrictions on the cove. However, many members like the strategic consideration required as it is a blind downhill with water to cross to the green. #10 is a great beginning to the back nine as the par 4 fairway hugs the lake the entire way to the green making it the best spot for boating hecklers. Tanasi is the Cherokee translation of Tennessee.
The Links at Kahite Golf Course is the newest course in TV, opened in 2002 with stupendous views of the Great Smoky Mountains. The unusual 800-yard, par 6 #9 is a wide-open run until the green side bunkers making a great chance for birdie or eagle. Riding Finn scooters with Jay increased the fun factor when playing at Kahite where Gary Woodland holds the course record scoring 61. The back nine is going through bunker reduction renovations to make it friendlier to golfers and the maintenance crew. Improvements are always in the plans at TV. Property acquired next to #2 on Tanasi is pegged for a driving range. The already fabulous practice area at Toqua will be re-engineered adding GET (golf entertainment training) facility along the lines of Topgolf and there is talk of a 30-acre parcel imagined to be a golf park, greenway for biking, disc golf and even an executive course. With so much drought across the country, it’s nice to see the gorgeous green grass on Toqua, Tanasi, and Kahite. Closed only three days a year, all three courses hold the title of Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries and are open to the public for limited hours with multiple, very affordable membership plans.
Water – The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) built the 33 miles long Tellico Lake, by damming the Little Tennessee River, and flooding a community in 1979. Evidence remains in the form of a farm’s silos projecting above the water level, now serving ascreative cliffs for jumping youth. Loudon County is full of more lakes and rivers to merit the title Lakeway to the Smokies, but we see it as a waterway of the world with accessibility of rivers to reach the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes in the north and the Atlantic via the St. Lawrence Seaway. The locks of Fort Loudon are a few miles away. Many homes in TV have their own docks on Tellico Lake and there are five marinas with affordable slip rentals including at the Yacht and Country Club. A members’ beach with kayaks and paddleboards has a roped off swim area. The deep, clean lake is ideal for all multigenerational water activities and lakeside living delivers serenity with an evening chorus of frogs, peepers, and birds.
Activities – We always hear, “There’s an app for that.” At Tellico Village, “There’s a club for that.” And, if there is not, you can start one. From fishing to kayaking, woodworking, quilting and every speed of walking club, 10,000 villagers are available for socialization without a screen. New Villagers is an organization open to new residents for fast and fun integration and connecting to the community for the first two years. As their VP of Communications, Kay Condon says, “We’re older, we have a short growing season so we must plant roots quickly.” New Villagers affords the opportunity to quickly meet people and make friends. Another member says it’s like double dating for seniors. Three rec centers, wellness center, outdoor and indoor pools, tennis and pickleball complexes, and many trails added to the water activities and golf mean boredom will never surface.
Dining – Seven restaurants in the Village and a world of fare to discover in nearby towns by car or some by boat, provide all the options your kitchen does not. Each of the three golf clubhouses has a separate menu plus the Yacht Club’s Blue Heron Restaurant on the lake delivers spectacular views as well as food. Don’t skip the appetizers here. Fried green tomatoes, ahi, shrimp cocktail and calamari pair well with any of the long list of cocktails or wines. Thai Bistro, Little Italy and Lorenzo’s Mexican Grille in the Lakeside Plaza round out the TV culinary choices.
Financials – The Tellico Village Property Owners Association fulfills the functions of a city government in the Village, operating the water, sewer systems and all facilities, maintaining roads and buildings, with annual budget of about $21 million generated by monthly assessments from property owners and fees for the use of facilities. The POA has an elected board of officials and boasts liquidity with $11m in reserve. The POA is supported by nine advisory committees (including Golf) and is supported by the Homeowners Association.
Tellico Village has no state income or estate tax, a $29 license plate fee, low electricity rates and the lowest per capita property tax in the country. Volunteers serve as firemen, emergency teams and more. Members come from every walk of life and are generous with their time and experience. Quality healthcare is close, and a Computer Services Club provides all the Info Technology support you might miss from previous employment.
TV’s monthly assessment includes membership to all three golf courses and Yacht Club with no initiation fees or minimums. The current $152 per month assessment is the same for all property owners and can increase by only 5% per year. The low tax advantage and Village focus on financial solvency makes an affordable lifestyle that is hard to beat with a wide range of existing homes and buildable lots at varying price levels.
Demographics – While many Tellico Villagers are retired and drawn to the active, upscale, yet affordable lifestyle from every state in the union, 25% to 30% of residents still work full or part-time. As one resident puts it, it’s like college without the classes. There is no entrenched society. People are genuinely friendly and caring for one another. Residents used to stay for about 10 years, generally from age 65-75 and then move into assisted living or back with relatives. Now, the Stay in TV program ensures support for elders in need with volunteers providing transportation, delivering items, and doing minor work for payment of materials only. This volunteer organization includes nurses. Having noted all that, there is no age restriction, and a school bus furnishes transportation for kiddos.
Day tripping – Great Smoky Mountain National Park is within an hour. Spend some time in Townsend where little black bears are like big raccoons and don’t miss Company Distilling, founded by Jeff Arnett, the former Master Distiller at Jack Daniels. He and his partners are delivering on the song, Tennessee Whiskey as well as smooth gin and flavored spirits. Knoxville offers cultural, shopping, and entertainment venues with the University of Tennessee for collegiate sports. Nashville is the music capitol of course. Explore all of Tennessee and beyond as Tellico Village is a day’s drive to 70% of the US population.
Our Takeaway – Ideal-Living Awards’ Best of the Best for Tellico Village include, Best Lake Community, Best Lake Views, Best Tennis/Pickleball, Best Social Calendars and we would stack their three courses up against any community. We found it to be a warm and welcoming place where lifelong friendships would be easily formed. You can check it out with a Discovery Package by Beth Kuberka’s team and perhaps play with part time pro Sharon Lemelman who has lived in Canada, Florida, the Carolinas and is now thrilled to call TV home. But if you decide to put your name on a list for property and membership, get behind us because it’s really that good. www.tellicovillage.org