The History of Golf's Greatest Players at Treetops Resort
Treetops Resort is proud to have hosted some of the most famous golfers in the world. Ironically, our biggest guests created our greatest stories on our smallest course: Threetops.
The Origin of Threetops
Threetops was the brainchild of Rick Smith, one of the most sought-after golf instructors of the 1980s and ‘90s. Legend has it that before Rick had permission to build the course at Treetops, he already had the course laid out in his mind (and had even begun clearing the land a little bit).
In conjunction with the opening of the Fazio-designed Premier in 1992, our Smith-designed short course affectionately known as Threetops was born. It soon became the number-one ranked par-3 course in America, and the model course for the majority of par-3 courses now popping up all over the country.
Threetops was also the setting of numerous memorable events involving the greatest golfers of all time …
The ESPN Par-3 Shootout
Threetops became home to the ESPN Par-3 Shootout beginning in 1999. The tournament’s field included some of the greatest names in the history of golf, like Lee Janzen, Ray Floyd, and Jack Nicklaus.
The Shootout continued for eight years, and players participating in the annual event have collectively won over 50 major championships. Many great shots were hit throughout the eight Shootouts we hosted at Threetops, but none was greater than the swing often referred to as "the shot heard ‘round the world" when Lee Trevino made an ace on Hang Time, the seventh hole, and won $1,090,000. He followed up this incredible performance with an even more impressive move; donating half his winnings to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The year after Trevino hit his million-dollar shot, Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples had a little fun with Trevino. After a plaque was installed on the spot where Trevino swung his club for the million-dollar shot, Couples and Mickelson jokingly tapped the plaque for good luck before they took their shots. They didn’t get a hole-in-one, but now it’s something everyone needs to do before teeing off on Hang Time.
Arnold Palmer and Mickelson are two additional famous golfers with reputations for being genuinely good people. Past members of our staff recall experiencing their kindness and generosity in person. Imagine being a 16-year-old bag handler and getting the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with one of these golf legends.
It’s memories like these that make us proud of our heritage and excited for the future of golf at Treetops Resort.