Sports in the Smokies
Tennesseans like their sports. They may watch pro teams on TV including the Titans and root for local college teams, but they also like to get personally involved! In the Smokies there are ample opportunities to kick a ball, cheer at a live game, or simply compete.
Multi-Use Sports Facility
At the Rocky Top Sports World complex, individuals and sports clubs meet to play everything from soccer and lacrosse outdoors to volleyball and wrestling indoors. Spread out over 80 acres, this multi-use sports facility has 7 fully lit fields including a Championship Stadium Field. There are plenty of amenities in the complex’s 86,000-square foot building such as 12 volleyball courts, 6 basketball courts locker rooms for both athletes and referees, and Champs Grill. It’s easy to see why people come from all over to participate in tournaments at the Rocky Top Sports World complex. Swing by to watch competitions and games or to participate yourself. Baseball
Baseball is America’s pastime. Though the Smoky Mountains may not have a big-name professional baseball team, that doesn’t stop locals and tourists alike from celebrating the sport in the region. The lights of the ballpark often shine onto the men of the Tennessee Smokies baseball team. Often referred to as “America’s Friendliest Ballpark,” Smokies stadium is a great place to catch a game. And because the Smokies are a Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll see someone start here who will later go on to the big leagues.
Going to the ballpark to cheer on the home team is a fun and affordable family event in and of itself. Snack on the traditional hotdogs and peanuts while watching the teams compete as the innings fly by. Maybe you’ll even catch a fly ball! To encourage the fans to root harder for the team, the bear mascots Slugger and Diamond will be making the rounds. You’re sure to also see another mascot of the Smokies, Homer the hound, performing his duty of riling the crowd.
There are also other fields where younger players can hone their baseball abilities and increase their passion for the game. Former Baltimore Orioles Billy Ripken and Cal Ripken, Jr., who is known as Major League Baseball’s “Ironman,” founded Pigeon Forge’s Ripken Experience. This sprawling compound for baseball lovers features six fields composed of synthetic turf, batting cages, pitching mounds, concessions, and relaxation spaces with large-screen televisions. Tournaments take place here consisting of teams of varying age groups. Admission is always free for spectators so it’s easy to come by and cheer on the kids.
Though it’s traditionally considered a gentlemen’s game, golf can be quite an active sport. The hills and rivers naturally create a few scenic and challenging courses where players can take advantage of the great outdoors. The popular Sevierville Golf Club has two 18-hole courses to choose from and is perfect for amateurs and pros alike. The club’s Highlands Course offers narrow fairways along sloping terrain that constantly pushes golfers to master their swing. Meanwhile, the club’s River Course is a bit more difficult to negotiate with a few holes placed on islands in the Little Pigeon River. The pars for these courses are 70 and 72 respectively, and they can be played throughout most of the year. East of Gatlinburg and on the border of the national park is the Bent Creek Golf Course. This course was designed by Gary Player—the winner of three Masters Championships—and is frequently regarded as one of the best places to swing a club in the South. With its greens spread between the hills and the valley, Bent Creek presents a scenic, yet demanding game. Finally, the hilly terrain of the Gatlinburg Golf Course showcases the beauty of the Smoky Mountains while taking in a great game. Located at the foot of the mountains, the greens are lined with the lush forest. The course is open year-round so you may be able to book a tee-time in January if the weather cooperates. There are other golf courses in the region, but the ones listed above are among the most recommended and they are also close to other attractions in the region. You don’t need to travel far to tee-off on a great course!
The waterways are frequented by fishermen who love to cast a line in the river where opportunities to snag a fish are plentiful. Locals recommend fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where the sport is permitted from a little after sunrise to just before sunset. This park is home to one of the United States’ last natural trout habitats, but there are many other places to fish as well. Abrams Creek, Big Creek, and Hazel Creek and the Little Pigeon River are wonderful places to fish. The latter is particularly popular with those who hope to hook trout. Anglers in this region predominately aim for rainbow, brook and brown trout in the rivers, but the only native trout is the brook trout. Since their numbers have dwindled and their living range has decreased, there are restrictions on the number of fish that can be caught by an angler. For a good place to try to catch smallmouth bass and crappie, visit Douglas Lake. A valid fishing license is needed to fish in the park but cannot be purchased inside the park. Instead, many outfitters and hardware stores in the area will sell you a permit.
Fisherman’s Tips: Look around to see what bugs are plentiful and match your bait’s look and movement to the type of insects that are currently hatching. By mimicking typical meals enjoyed by the fish, you may stand a better chance of catching them. In addition, try fishing in whirlpools where the fish also like to catch their prey.
Fishing tournaments take place in the Spring and Fall in the Smoky Mountains. During two full days in April and October, locals and visitors can compete in the Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament. Over 5,000 fish will be stocked in the west prong of the Little Pigeon River near Gatlinburg. Adults and children have their own divisions and so do locals and visitors. Prizes are awarded for both the largest and the smallest trout caught during the tournament.