- The Washington Times - Friday, March 29, 2002

ALGONKIAN (** 1/2)
Location:
Sterling - 20 miles west of the District off Route 7
Yardage/par:
7,015/72
Rating/slope:
73.5/125
Architect:
Ed Ault (1972)
Fees:
$27-$50 Phone: 703/450-4655
Driving range:
Mats
Layout:
Nothing fancy but everything you could want from a course run by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority and originally built by Pepco for high-ranking employees. Front nine leaves plenty of room to miss off the tee. Back is tougher and more scenic. No par-3 measures shorter than 180 yards from the tips. Large greens and lots of surrounding bunkers. Long irons are a must.

AUGUSTINE (
**** 1/2)
Location:
Stafford - 3.3 miles west of Exit 140 off I-95 in Stafford County
Yardage/par:
6,810/71
Rating/slope:
71.9/130
Architect:
Rick Jacobson (1995)
Fees:
$59-$79Phone: 540/720-7374
Driving range:
Grass
Layout:
An intense gallop through Virginia hardwoods boasting an unforgettable collection of holes. Pristine conditions, a challenging and entertaining design and an awe-inspiring tract of land make this one of the mid-Atlantic's most enjoyable golfing experiences, public or private. Not too tight or lake-littered to discourage free-swingers; just a solid test of ability.

BOWLING GREEN (
*** 1/2)
Location:
Front Royal - 4 miles North of junction of Exit 6 and I-66
Yardage/par:
6,464 yards, par 71 (North Course)
Rating/slope:
69.9/122
Architect:
Linwood Morrison (1965)
Fees:
$17-$37Phone: 540/635-2024
Driving range:
Grass
Layout: The perfect place to pop a little ego ecstasy. Bring a driver, a sand wedge and your best grin, because Bowling Green is guaranteed to cut your handicap in half. The standard fare here is the relatively open, rolling, 375-yard two-shotter that simply begs for birdies. Despite its simplicity, there aren't any dogs on the property - no absurdly severe doglegs, ridiculously canted greens or blind drives over Uncle Bubba's barn. Quality muni golf with a strong twist of rural charm.

BRAMBLETON (
** 1/2)
Location:
Ashburn - Just west of Route 28 in eastern Loudoun County, near the intersections of routes 772 and 659
Yardage/par:
6,764/72
Rating/slope:
71.4/121
Architect:
Gordon Associates (1994)
Fees:
$30-$51Phone: 703/327-3403
Driving range:
Mats
Layout:
Simple, open course with scattered fairway bunkers and level greens. Designed by Hank Gorden and Associates, this course features the 568-yard 7th, an uphill par-5 that plays over a creek, making it as gruelling a 3-shot hole as you'll find.

BRISTOW MANOR (
*** 1/2)
Location:
Bristow - 5 miles southwest of Route 28 junction at I-66
Yardage/par:
7,049/72
Rating/slope:
72.9/129
Architect:
Ken Killian (1993)
Fees:
$49-$75Phone: 703/368-3558
Driving range:
Grass
Layout:
Rural setting allows room to spray the ball off the tee, but there's a small margin for error on and around greens. Course is well-defined despite lack of trees, with zoysia fairways and outstanding putting surfaces. Mounding makes short game a chore. Seven water holes. Bristow draws a breath of Scotland with the twist of a bulldozer. Clever design with one staggering lapse of sanity at the par-4 seventh.

BULL RUN (
****)
Location:
Haymarket - Take I-66 west to Exit 40. Follow Route 15 north for just over 4 miles. Club entrance on left
Yardage/par:
6,961/72
Rating/slope:
73.1/134
Architect:
Rick Jacobson (1999)
Fees:
$62-$88Phone: 703/753-7777
Driving range:
Grass/mats
Layout: Nobody frames a hole better than Rick Jacobson, a designer who uses bunkers and mounding the way Wyeth used light and shadows. From every tee box at Bull Run, a player immediately sees exactly the shape and line required of each drive. Aside from that marvelous framing, Bull Run is characterized by relatively small, flat greens and a nice combination of long, basicball-striking holes and complex, risk-reward delights. There isn't a bum in the bunch here, though the stretch from No. 8 to the finish is particularly memorable.

FAIRFAX NATIONAL (
** 1/2)
Location: Centreville - 4 miles southeast of Exit 52 off of I-66 west on Sudley Road
Yardage/par: 3,570/37, (Bull Run); 3,495/36 (Antietam); 3,380/36 (Wilderness)
Rating/slope: 72.1/119 (Ant.-Wild.); 72.5/122 (Wild.-Bull); 72.4/121(Ant.-Bull)
Architect:
Wayne Jerome (1959)
Fees:
$45-$69Phone: 703/631-9226
Driving range:
Grass/mats
Layout:
Built as the original 18-hole layout in 1959, the Antietam and Wilderness nines are fairly traditional tree-lined affairs, snaking simply through the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Bull Run nine, added in the '60s, is longer but more forgiving off the tee, featuring more character than its older brethren. Fairfax National was formerly a private club known as Cedar Crest or Ridgeview CC before its renovation and public conversion in 1995.

FOREST GREENS (
***)
Location: Triangle - Less than a mile west of Exit 150B off of I-95 south
Yardage/par:
6,839/72
Rating/slope:
71.8/129
Architect:
Clyde Johnston (1996)
Fees:
$39-$48
Phone:
703/221-0123
Driving range:
Grass
Layout: Other than a pair of architectural hiccups by designer Clyde Johnson at Nos. 12 and 13, Forest Greens is an exemplary adventure in parkland golf. Like its ballyhooed upscale neighbor to the South (Augustine GC), this project was blessed with the luxury of space. With the Prince William County Park Authority supplying the land and writing the checks, Forest Greens didn't have to worry about the cramped feel of a course dominated by housing developments or parallel fairways. Instead, the layout is a driver-friendly traipse through Virginia hardwoods. Straightforward test of playing ability reminiscent of Reston National.

THE GAUNTLET (
*** 1/2)
Location:
Hartwood - Off I-95 in Stafford County near Fredericksburg
Yardage/par:
6,857/72
Rating/slope:
72.8/126
Architect:
P.B. Dye (1995)
Fees:
$42-$65Phone: 540/752-0963
Driving range:
Grass
Layout: A somewhat contrived but wholly entertaining plan from P.B. Dye, the progeny of famed architect Pete Dye. The front side is a tight, water-laden adventure, while the back nine is a more conventional tree-lined monster. The bent-grass greens have been problematic in the past, but fabulous zoysia fairways and an intriguing Dye design make the trip to Hartwood more than worthwhile.

GOOSE CREEK (
**)
Location:
Leesburg - 35 miles west of the District on Route 7
Yardage/par:
6,444/72
Rating/slope:
70.3/121
Architect:
Bill Gordon (1952)
Fees:
$25-$49Phone: 703/729-2500
Driving range:
Net
Layout: Tiny greens and tumbling terrain make this a wild gallop of iron play. Crammed into a 98-acre lot (the average course uses about 150). Very reachable par-5s. Not what you would call tree-lined. Enough water holes to get your attention. A fair course that could become a good one with a few adjustments and the addition of a driving range (which is already in the works).
GREENDALE (**)
Location:
Alexandria - 4 miles south of I-495 on Telegraph Road
Yardage/par:
6,303/70
Rating/slope:
70.2/117
Architect:
Leon Howard (1976)
Fees:
$25-$52Phone: 703/971-3788
Driving range: Net
Layout: Short but full of obstacles. Anywhere from seven to nine water holes, depending on your lust for hitting bad shots. Big difference in par-3 distances from white tees to blue. Best stretch comes at the beginning of the back nine: three of first four par-4s play to 400 yards or more. Three of the four are guarded by water.

HERNDON (
**)
Location:
Herndon - Just north of Exit 2 off the Dulles Toll Road
Yardage/par:
6,445/71
Rating/slope:
67.8/116
Architect:
Ed Ault (1979)
Fees:
$28-$48Phone: 703/471-5769
Driving range:
Grass
Layout: Not prone to categorization, other than to say it has 18 holes and is rather flat. Lots of room to hit driver, but length is rarely a key. Not a lot of trees and some very operable water, plus a good mix of long and short holes. Back nine lacks definition in parts. A fair course made interesting by its range of character.

KASTLE GREENS (
*** 1/2)
Location:
Midland - 19 miles southeast of the junction of I-66 and Route 28
Yardage/par:
6,756/72
Rating/slope:
73.8/132
Architect:
Gary Cordova (1998)
Fees:
$27-$49 Phone: 540/788-3144
Driving range:
Grass
Layout: Kastle Greens is that rarest of golfing gems, an intriguing layout that virtually nobody knows about. The first two holes have a shockingly Scottish flavor that quickly gives way to a more conventional American parkland design. One pleasant surprise after another interrupted by just two major design blips - the driveable par-4, 9th and the reachable par-5, 18th, neither of which has a discernible landing area.
LANSDOWNE (****)
Location:
Sterling - 35 miles west of the District off Route 7
Yardage/par:
7,057/72
Rating/slope:
74.7/139
Architect:
Robert Trent Jones Jr. (1991)
Fees:
$92-$105Phone: 703/729-4071
Driving range:
Grass
Layout: This Robert Trent Jones Jr. design gains a full head of steam on the back nine. The stretch of holes from No. 11 through No. 16 is as solid as you'll find anywhere. The front side plays a bit uneventfully, although the short par-4 at No. 3 is worth noting. Not heavily wooded and only moderately watered. Course takes advantage of radical elevation changes and breathtaking scenery.

LEE'S HILL (
*** 1/2)
Location:
Fredericksburg - Entrance off Old Dominion Parkway
Yardage/par:
6,805/72
Rating/slope:
72.4/128
Architect:
Bill Love (1993)
Fees:
$38-$50Phone: 540/891-0111
Driving range:
Grass/mats
Layout:
After a rocky start, this Bill Love design has become one of the most solid layouts south of the city. Among the strongest collection of par-5s and par-3s in the survey. The par-4s are fine holes, just less memorable. Tree-lined fairways are kind to the average public hack. Only weak stretch is the segue between front and back nines.

GENERAL'S RIDGE (
** 1/2)
Location: Manassas Park - 7 miles southwest of I-66 Exit 53 on Manassas Drive
Yardage/par:
6,651/72
Rating/slope:
72.5/133
Architect:
Jerry Slack (1996)
Fees:
$24-$52Phone: 703/335-0777
Driving range:
Grass/mats
Layout:
Feel like playing 18 with Dante? Bring a dozen balls and an extra sleeve of humility, because this fiendish plan formerly known as Manassas Park is straight out of your worst golfing nightmares. A Loyal H. Chapman painting come to life, Manassas Park makes Pohick look flat, featuring more blind tee shots, drunken fairways, blind approaches, elevation changes, sidehill lies, canted greens and incredulous architecture than the rest of the courses in the survey put together. The Six Flags of layouts, everybody should play it once just to satisfy curiosity.

MEADOWS FARMS (
***)
Location:
Locust Grove - 14 miles northwest of Fredericksburg off I-95
Yardage/par:
3,096/35 (Island); 3,909/37 (Longest); 2,962/35 (Waterfall)
Rating/slope:
73.2/129 (Isl.-Long.); 68.9/123 (Isl.-Wat.); 72.7/123 (Long.-Wat.)
Architect:
Bill Ward (1993)
Fees:
$17-$40Phone: 540/854-9890
Driving range:
Grass
Layout: Gooney golf on a grand scale, as proposed by owner Bill "Farmer" Meadows, who told architect Bill Ward to design something different. Twenty-seven holes of gimmicks and mimics include a warmup hole, church-pew bunkers, a ton of mounding, a waterfall, a baseball hole, replicas of Augusta and Sawgrass and the longest hole in the U.S. (841-yard, par-6). Sum of its parts makes for an enchanting alternative a one-time must for any fanatic.

THE OSPREYS (
***)
Location:
Woodbridge - 2 off I-95 Exit 161 on Express Drive
Yardage/par:
5,567/70
Rating/slope:
68.2/127
Architect:
Robert H. Mortensen (1997)
Fees:
$35-$47Phone: 703/497-1384
Driving range:
None
Layout:
Welcome to the home of the boomerang dogleg. Dubbing the first six holes here unconventional is an understatement on the order of calling Michael Jackson an eccentric. Name another layout that requires a duck hook and a screaming slice? If Donald Ross could see this opening six-hole disasterpiece, we're not sure what he would reach for first - a shovel or the scotch. Amazingly, the remainder of the layout is quite solid, if exceptionally short. And the stretch from Nos. 7-10 actually borders on exquisite. A fine place to enjoy a few swings in the sun for players who care more about location, beauty and price than design integrity.

PENDERBROOK (
** 1/2)
Location:
Fairfax - A mile north of the Route 50 junction with I-66
Yardage/par:
6,142/71
Rating/slope:
71.2/130
Architect:
Ed Ault (1979)
Fees:
$50-$65Phone: 703/385-3700
Driving range:
Net
Layout:
Shortest courses in the area public or private among those with a slope of 130 or higher. A smorgasbord of target-golf with a cemetery of watery graves. A dozen holes carry some form of aquatics. No. 12 might be the hardest par-4 in Western civilization. Accompanying townhouse community makes it very tight in spots.

PLEASANT VALLEY (
****)
Location:
Chantilly - 4 miles southwest of intersection of Route 28 and Route 50 in Lafayette Business Park
Yardage/par:
6,957/72
Rating/slope:
72.9/135
Architect:
Ault, Clark and Ass.
Fees:
$59-$79Phone: 703/222-7900
Driving range:
Grass
Layout:
Perhaps the best local design from the ultra-prolific architectural firm of Ault, Clark & Associates. Simply no weaknesses here not a boring hole or an arbitrary moment. Offering everything from isolated parkland forays to open heathland jaunts, perhaps this plan's purest allure is its immunity to quick characterization. From split fairways and rock outcroppings to straightforward tree-lined challenges and water-guarded par-3s, Pleasant Valley shifts gears more often than Jeff Gordon. And yet, it never seems contrived. Serious challenge. Serious beauty. Serious fun.

POHICK BAY (
**)
Location:
Lorton - Off Gunston Road in Pohick Bay Regional Park
Yardage/par:
6,405/72
Rating/slope:
71.7/131
Architect:
George W. Cobb and John LaFoy (1982)
Fees:
$27-$50 Phone: 703/339-8585
Driving range:
Mats
Layout:
A wild ride over radical terrain, framed in most parts by thick forest. Surprisingly difficult considering the length, penal Pohick features crowned fairways, blind doglegs, canted greens and the constant threat of trouble. Just two or three water holes, maybe one total acre of flat land. Bring a 3-iron and several sleeves of golf balls.

PRINCE WILLIAM (
**)
Location:
Nokesville - Off Route 28 in southwest Prince William County
Yardage/par:
6,453/70
Rating/slope:
70.1/119
Architect:
Various (1970)
Fees:
$30-$49Phone: 703/754-7111
Driving range:
Grass/mats
Layout:
Like Patuxtent Greens, a semiprivate club resuscitated by The Fairways Group, which manages this property for the county. Pretty course in rural setting. A lot of hills, not a lot of blind shots or trees. Six water holes. Course finishes strongly. Still working back to a level of consistent conditioning.

RASPBERRY FALLS (
*** 1/2)
Location:
Leesburg - Off of Route 15, 5 miles north of its junction with the Dulles Toll Road
Yardage/par:
7,191/72
Rating/slope:
74.3/134
Architect:
Gary Player (1996)
Fees:
$74-$94Phone: 703/779-2555
Driving range:
Grass
Layout:
From its Scottish-style stacked-sod bunkers to its straightforward playability, this gem from Gary Player is an aesthetic masterpiece. That said, the true brilliance of the course lies in its tee-to-green simplicity. With the exception of one brief stretch on the back nine (Nos. 12 and 13), Raspberry Falls is a gimmick-free delight, a rarity in today's world of target-golf tedium.

RESTON NATIONAL (
***)
Location: Reston - Less than 1 mile south of the Dulles Toll Road off Exit 3
Yardage/par:
6,871/71
Rating/slope:
72.9/126
Architect:
Ed Ault (1967)
Fees:
$65-$89Phone: 703/620-9333
Driving range:
Mats
Layout: Wide fairways, huge greens and emphasis on length make it typical of Edmund Ault's architectural style. Few frills, but a strong collection of par-4s. Well-conditioned despite heavy play. Moderately tree-lined with very little water. A conventional design on classic rolling terrain. Don't expect a lot of special attention this is a foursomes factory, first and foremost but the man-sized layout keeps it among Virgina's most reliable publics.An aerial view of Reston reveals a hole configuration identical to the Playboy bunny.

SHENANDOAH VALLEY (
****)
Location:
Front Royal - 5 miles off of I-66 on Route 661
Yardage/par:
Red (3,095/36); White (3,026/35); Blue (3,304/36)
Rating/slope:
Red/White (69.6/122); White/Blue (70.7/122); Red/Blue (71.1/126)
Architect:
Buddy Loving (1965)
Fees:
$18-$50Phone: 540/636-4653
Driving range:
Grass
Layout:
Shenandoah's 27 holes are exceedingly tight, at times demanding almost absurd pinpoint accuracy. The claustrophobic feel is heightened by Shenandoah's classic mountainside flavor, featuring a profusion of mammoth trees, blind teeshots, severely canted fairways and sidehill lies, and completed by a set of greens minuscule by modern standards. The overall result is a nasty, narrow, pine-lined funhouse oozing with personality and capable of testing your ability with every stick in the set.

SOUTH RIDING (
*** 1/2)
Location:
Chantilly - 10 miles west of intersection of I-66 and Route 50 on South Riding Road
Yardage/par:
7,147/72
Rating/slope:
74.5/133
Architect:
Dan Maples (1998)
Head pro:
Marc Granahan
Fees:
$59-$79Phone: 703/327-3673
Driving range:
Grass
Layout:
The first local offering from architect Dan Maples, South Riding rarely stuns you with thoughtful shaping or exceptional aesthetic features, but after a suspect opening hole the layout rambles alternately through a housing development and a swampy assortment of hardwoods without another questionable design decision. Quite a few strong holes here, but only two real gems: Nos. 3 and 13.

SOUTH WALES (
*** 1/2)
Location: Jeffersonton - 20 miles south of junction of I-66 and Route 29
Yardage/par: 7,033/71
Rating/slope:
73.2/123
Architect:
Ed Ault (1960)
Head pro:
Glenn Payne, PGA
Fees:
$18-$43Phone: 540/937-3250
Driving range:
Grass
Layout:
This big hitter's paradise is typical of Ault's spray-friendly, spacious designs in that it rarely penalizes players off the tee; instead, it steals strokes with Tour-like length and gargantuan greens. Those who fancy a real fight should step back to the gold tees. From the tips, the back nine stands as the most prodigious piece of golf course in the region. South Wales' sadistic side measures an eye-popping 3,786 yards from the back tees its par-4s averaging 447 yards. The pros rarely have to tackle such an epic task. It's worth a trip just to say you danced with this dragon.

STONELEIGH (
*** 1/2)
Location:
Roundhill - 15 miles west of Leesburg off Route 7
Yardage/par:
6,900/72
Rating/slope:
73.4/132
Architect:
Lisa Maki (1992)
Fees:
$55-$65Phone: 540/338-4653
Driving range:
Grass
Layout: Stark altitude changes and a pre-Civil War stone wall are the dominant features of this design. The combination of the two makes Nos. 2 and 3 arbitrary and unfair, but the rest of the layout is entertaining, challenging and stunningly attractive. The last four holes, a pair of testy par-5s, a long par-3, and a scenic par-4, provide as fine a finish as the Mid-Atlantic has to offer.

TWIN LAKES
Lakes (***);Oaks (*** 1/2)
Location:
Clifton - 10 miles west of the Braddock Road Beltway exit on Union Mill Road
Yardage/par:
6,710/71 (Oaks); 6,788/73 (Lakes)
Rating/slope:
70.7/116 (Oaks); 72.0/132 (Lakes)
Architect:
Charles Schalestock (Lakes, 1969) and Denis Griffths (Oaks, 1999)
Fees:
$27 (Lakes) $31 (Oaks) - $46 (Lakes) $52 (Oaks)
Phone:
703/631-9099
Driving range:
Grass
Layout:
Busiest and best of facilities run by Fairfax County Park Authority. The Oaks Course represents Twin Lakes' foray into the upscale arena, giving the longtime facility a more challenging layout to complement its Lakes Course, an ego-boosting muncipal staple that should be the first stop for those players still looking to break 80 for the first time.
After a slow start defined by suspiciously sloped landing areas and short, chop-and-chase par-4s, the Oaks really begins to blossom around No. 8, a 204-yard par-3. Reminiscent to startlingly schizophrenic plans at Hog Neck (Easton, Md.) and Somerset (Fredericksburg, Va.), the Oaks back nine is as fine as the front nine is forgettable. The general flavor is lengthy parkland, similar to Reston National, as the player encounters a procession ofwonderfully framed, man-sized holes that beg for the big stick.

VIRGINIA OAKS (
***)
Location:
Gainesville - 25 miles west of the District off I-66
Yardage/par:
6,928/72
Rating/slope:
73.5/133
Architect:
P.B. Dye (1995)
Fees:
$59-$89Phone: 703/551-2103
Driving range:
Grass
Layout:
The front nine is a snug voyage through Virginia hardwoods, placing a premium on accuracy. No. 4, the 406-yard par-4 signature hole nicknamed "The Point," plays out a peninsula and seems to funnel right into Lake Manassas. Whether you card a 3 or an 8, the view from the green will leave you gaping in awe. The back nine is a wide-open jaunt featuring monstrous greens the putting surface at the par-3 11th measures 60 yards deep and 75 yards wide.

VIRGINIA NATIONAL (
****)
Location:
Bluemont - 21 miles west of the end of the Greenway off of Route 7
Yardage/par:
6,766/72
Rating/slope:
73.0/136
Architect:
Jerry Matthews (1999)
Fees:
$48-$68 Phone: 888/283-4653
Driving range:
Grass
Layout:
Shangri-La in a shoebox. Matthews and Boyd massaged this spectacular, though somewhat cramped, piece of property by the Shenandoah River in Clarke County into a mini masterpiece, shrinking their scope and squeezing the first nine holes into a mystifyingly small outlay of acreage. Hitting driver here is practically a felony. Rolling ridges of Scottish-style wild fescue separate the four-abreast fairways on the front nine, softening the sandwiched reality of the situation. And the back nine raises the ante of awe thanks to the introduction of space and drastic mountainside elevation changes.

WESTFIELDS GC (
*** 1/2)
Location:
Clifton - Off Union Mill Road, 5 miles southwest of the junction of the Fairfax County Parkway and Braddock Road
Yardage/par:
6,897/71
Rating/slope:
73.1/136
Architect:
Fred Couples and Gene Bates (1999)
Fees:
$75-$95 Phone: 703/631-3300
Driving range:
Grass/mats
Layout:
This solid parkland plan definitely has the feel of a collaborative effort, as a virtual tug-of-war in sod unfolds between co-designers Fred Couples and Gene Bates.Both nines start slow, inducing a few yawns before Boom-Boom's architectural adrenaline kicks in during a five-hole run on the back nine. Shortened at Couples' insistence, two driveable par-4s (Nos.13 and 14) are followed by a reachable par-5, a driver-wedge walkover and a short par-3. Quite simply, even Mr. Magoo could find a birdie on this easy but entertaining stretch.

WESTPARK GOLF CLUB (
**)
Location:
Leesburg - At intersection of Dulles Toll Road and Route 15
Yardage/par:
7,010/71 (Oaks); 3,539/36 (Lakes 9)
Rating/slope:
71.1/121
Architect:
Ed Ault (1968)
Fees:
$26-$55Phone: 703/777-7023
Driving range:
Mats
Layout:
Fairly typical municipal routing plays through a housing development on front nine and then segues into a series of parallel fairways with few trees on back. No heroes here, but a lot of good soldiers. A steady procession of straightforward 380-yard par-4s are broken by the plan's signature holes, Nos. 10 and 18 a pair of mid-range (170 yards) par-3s that play back and forth over the a lake and demand quality iron play.


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