- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Location: Sterling

Yardage/par: 7,015 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 73.5/125

Architect: Ed Ault (1972)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 703/450-4655

Range: Mats

Layout: Nothing fancy, but everything you could want from a course run by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. 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

Yardage/par: 6,810 yards, par 71

Rating/slope: 71.9/130

Architect: Rick Jacobson (1995)

Fees: $$-$$$

Phone: 540/720-7374

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.



Location: Front Royal

Yardage/par: 6,464 yards, par 71 (North)

Rating/slope: 69.9/122

Architect: Linwood Morrison (1965)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 800/659-0163

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 at an remarkable top price of just $39.



Location: Ashburn

Yardage/par: 6,764 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 71.2/121

Architect: Gordon Associates (1994)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 703/327-3403

Range: Mats

Layout: Simple, open course with scattered fairway bunkers and level greens. Designed by Hank Gordon 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.



Location: Bristow

Yardage/par: 7,102 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 75.2/133

Architect: Ken Killian (1993)

Fees: $$-$$$

Phone: 703/368-3558

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.




Location: Haymarket

Yardage/par: 6,961 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 73.1/134

Architect: Rick Jacobson (1999)

Fees: $$$-$$$$

Phone: 866/285-5786

Range: Grass

Layout: Nobody frames a hole better than Rick Jacobson, a designer who uses bunkers and mounding the way Wyeth used light and shadows. Jacobson supplies such instant perspective that you could easily play the course without a scorecard or yardage markers. Aside from the marvelous framing, Bull Run is characterized by relatively small, flat greens and a nice combination of long, basic ball-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.



Location: Fredericksburg

Yardage/par: 7,010 yards, par 71

Rating/slope: 75.8/147

Architect: Deane Beman/Bobby Weed (2004)

Fees: $$-$$$$

Phone: 866/857-4343

Range: Grass

Layout: Prepare to be blown away by some heavy architectural ordinance. Two thoughts linger after a loop around this layout from former PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman. First, the lines are strikingly clean, bordering on elegant — a near-shocker given the somewhat muddled framing of TPC at Avenel, Beman’s infamous signature plan to date. When you stand on a teebox at Cannon Ridge, every rolling nuance of each hole is crisply revealed. Simply put, this course fits the eye like few others in the region.

Second, two extended stretches of holes qualify as almost rapturously memorable, leaving one feeling like a child who has discovered a secret path through a dense forest. The front-nine foursome beginning at No. 3, a snaking 586-yard par-5, and concluding with the savage 6th, a 493-yard, par-4 boring to the farthest corner of the property, will leave you somewhat slack-jawed … until you make the turn and hit the crescendo stretch starting at the 13th and running sublimely to the finish. The par-3, 17th, Beman’s take on the famed Redan design, is the most playable we’ve ever encountered.



Location: Centreville

Yardage/par: 3,570 yards, par 37 (Bull Run);

3,495 yards, par 36 (Antietam); 3,380 yards, par 36 (Wilderness)

Rating/slope: 72.1/119 (A-W); 72.5/122 (W-B); 72.4/121 (A-B)

Architect: Wayne Jerome (1959)

Fees: $$-$$$

Phone: 703/631-9226

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 a private club known as Cedar Crest or Ridgeview CC before its renovation and conversion to a public in 1995.



Location: Triangle

Yardage/par: 6,831 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 71.8/129

Architect: Clyde Johnston (1996)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 703/221-0123

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), 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, a straightforward test of playing ability that has become even more attractive courtesy of recent rate reductions.



Location: Hartwood

Yardage/par: 6,857 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 72.8/126

Architect: P.B. Dye (1995)

Fees: $$

Phone: 540/752-0963

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 intriguing Dye design and comparably low greens fees make the trip to Hartwood more than worthwhile.



Location: Manassas Park

Yardage/par: 6,651 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 72.5/133

Architect: Jerry Slack (1996)

Fees: $$

Phone: 703/335-0777

Range: Grass

Layout: Though this once-fiendishly hilly layout has been significantly softened over the last several years, it’s still an exceedingly tight track where accuracy and course knowledge are exponentially more valuable than length. The canted fairways can bring a hefty dose of luck into the equation, particularly for those who like to attack instead of plot. Think Rock Creek on steroids and bring a backup sleeve.



Location: Leesburg

Yardage/par: 6,444 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 70.3/121

Architect: Bill Gordon (1952)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 703/729-2500

Range: None

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. Ben Hogan holds the course record (59).



Location: Alexandria

Yardage/par: 6,303 yards, par 70

Rating/slope: 70.2/117

Architect: Leon Howard (1976)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 703/971-6170

Range: None

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.



Location: Herndon

Yardage/par: 6,455 yards, par 71

Rating/slope: 67.8/116

Architect: Ed Ault (1979)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 703/471-5769

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.



Location: Front Royal

Yardage/par: 6.587 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 70.8/125

Architect: Shapemasters (2004)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 540/635-7814

Range: Grass

Layout: An entertaining tumble through the foothills of the Shenandoahs that features two distinctly different nines. The front side shoots around the perimeter of the property, taking advantage of most of the outlying hardwoods to give the opener the feel of a somewhat shortish parkland track. Though none qualifies as unforgettable, Nos. 3-6 are the strongest holes on the outward set, balancing both aesthetics and traditional design philosophy. The pair completely part company on the back nine, a wild ride that alternately dazzles and disorients and is likely to hike up your handicap.



Location: Midland

Yardage/par: 6,756 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 73.8/132

Architect: Gary Cordova (1998)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 540/788-3144

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 9th and the par-5 18th, neither of which has a discernible landing area.



Location: Sterling

RTJ Course **** 1/2

Yardage/par: 7,057 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 74.7/139

Architect: Robert Trent Jones Jr. (1991)

Fees: $$$$

Phone: 703/729-8400

Range: Grass/mats

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 is a bit uneventful 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. The recently added Greg Norman signature course gives members and resort guests another impressive playing alternative.


Norman Course **** 1/2

Yardage/par: 7,332 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 75.4/147

Architect: Greg Norman (2005)

Fees: $$$$$

Phone: 703/729-4071

Range: Grass/mats

Layout: A player’s course in every sense, golf’s Shark designed a plan almost certain to sink its teeth into your ego. Unlike its original sister layout, which features drastic elevation changes and has an open, rolling feel, the Norman course has more of a parkland flavor and climaxes with the area’s toughest finishing stretch. Nos. 17 and 18 might be the planet’s most brutish back-to-back brothers.

The par-5 17th measures an astounding 663 yards from the back tees and features a diabolically elevated green snuggled between bunkers. And the 18th, a par-3 over water, measures 247 yards, all carry, from the tips to a massive multi-tiered green. Even from the third set of tees up, this daunting duo measures 610 and 171 yards, respectively. Frankly, if you better par on this tandem, Tim Finchem should meet you at the clubhouse with a tour card.


LEE’S HILL *** 1/2

Location: Fredericksburg

Yardage/par: 6,805 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 72.4/128

Architect: Bill Love (1993)

Fees: $-$$$

Phone: 540/891-7425

Range: Grass/mats

Layout: 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.



Location: Locust Grove

Yardage/par: 3,096 yards, par 35 (Island); 3,909 yards, par 37 (Longest); 2,962 yards, par 35 (Waterfall)

Rating/slope: 73.2/129 (I-L); 68.9/123 (I-W); 72.7/123 (L-W)

Architect: Bill Ward (1993)

Fees: $$

Phone: 540/854-9890

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 half-mile par-6, a ton of mounding, a waterfall, a baseball hole and replicas of Augusta and Sawgrass. Sum of its parts makes for an enchanting alternative a one-time must for any fanatic.



Location: Woodbridge

Yardage/par: 7,131 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 74.4/142

Architect: Tim Freeland (2004)

Fees: $$$$

Phone: 703/580-9000

Range: Grass/mats (irons only)

Layout: As good as it gets for a layout dropped into a housing development. Freeland, who assisted Gary Player at nearby Raspberry Falls, did an absolutely masterful job with very little land, routing this solid plan through a massive housing community without ever leaving the player feeling claustrophobic. A surprisingly forgiving track off the tee, Old Hickory takes its revenge on the greens, which are severe without being unfair. The final five holes are as strong as any in the region.



Location: Woodbridge

Yardage/par: 5,567 yards, par 70

Rating/slope: 68.2/127

Architect: Robert H. Mortensen (1997)

Fees: $$

Phone: 703/497-1384

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 both a duck hook and a screaming slice just to find fairways? Seriously, 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. A fine place to enjoy a few swings in the sun for those who care more about location, beauty and price than design integrity.


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