Timberlake is an avid golfer who spent a reported $16 million to buy and renovate the golf course, and when it opened in July 2009, he told a reporter, "I think this is probably the coolest thing I've ever been a part of in my life."
The golf course, situated between Memphis and Timberlake's hometown of Millington, was called Big Creek before Timberlake bought it. He learned to play there as a child. His mother, Lynn, and stepfather, Paul Harless, held their wedding reception there in 1986, when Timberlake was 5.
Timberlake enjoyed the game as a youngster, then got away from golf during his 'N Sync period. He caught the bug again about eight years ago when his crew began playing between concerts. He hired Tiger Woods' former coach, Butch Harmon, and lowered his handicap to 6. Timberlake was so hooked, he began scheduling concert venues based on the time of year and the kind of weather he could expect.
Golf courses, he said in an interview with ESPN, "might be the only place where I don't have such critical expectations of myself. The mental release is why I love it so much."
The downturn in the economy hurt many golf courses, including Big Creek, and it went into decline and then to auction.
The decision to buy it began with a phone call from Harless to Timberlake. As Timberlake once recalled, "My dad called me. I was on tour. He said it was for sale and what if we bought it. I started laughing. But he didn't laugh on the other end of the phone. Silence. I said, 'You're serious. I'm in. Let's do it.' "
Timberlake and his parents set the bar high, envisioning a public golf course that would draw visitors from across the country and would be the equal of prestigious American daily-fee courses such as Bethpage Black in New York and Torrey Pines in San Diego, both of which have hosted U.S. Opens.
Golf courses do not achieve that kind of status right out of the chute. Mirimichi would need a few years to mature and undergo refinements. Timberlake, though, didn't want to wait. Six months after the course opened, he and his parents - all three are co-owners - shut down Mirimichi last January for an extensive upgrade.
The renovations followed input from public golfers, professional golfers and organizations such as the U.S. Golf Association. Greens were improved and repositioned, tee boxes were added, bunkers were redesigned and improved, the driving range was expanded, and an 18-hole putting course and nine-hole executive course were added, among other upgrades.
"We initially planned to make these improvements over the next three years and stay open," Timberlake said in a press release. "But I felt the Memphis community deserves the best now and shouldn't have to wait through three years of gradual improvements. So I challenged the team to make all the changes by our first anniversary."
Mirimichi reopened for business in September and is now part golf course, part eco-friendly nature preserve featuring abundant native grassland, four waterfalls, six lakes and two meandering streams.
Co-existing with nature was an important factor from the beginning for Timberlake.
In 2009, Mirimichi became the first U.S. golf course to be certified as an Audubon International Classic Sanctuary. This year, Mirimichi became the first golf course in the Americas, and the ninth worldwide, to be certified by the Scotland-based Golf Environment Organization, a recognition of its environmentally conscious use of water, pesticides and energy.
Find more information at mirimichi.com or 1-901-259-3800.