I was looking to play 36 holes today as I know that it will become a tougher task with the shorter days as the end of the year gets closer. I started my day with an 8:00am tee time at Rapidan Golf Club which is a little over an hour away from Charlottesville. This was a last minute booking and mostly likely Rapidan was going to be a halfway point to get to a nice course for an afternoon round. I didn’t have high hopes as I had never heard about the course and couldn’t even find it on Skycaddie for a course download. In addition, the course website is very basic. It wasn’t until now that I read a couple articles about the course. Apparently the course opened in 1997 and then due to financial trouble shut down. Then, just a few months ago, it opened back up after a redesign. I do not know all the specifics about the original course, but from what I read it was over 6700 yards. I played the tips yesterday and the course is only 6224 yards with a rating of 69.8 and slope of 129. It makes a little more sense to me with this knowledge as there were some unused tee boxes which I thought was odd. During the redesign the course was made more player friendly, all the greens were redone, and the nines were flipped. So this is the long story of why I had never heard of the course.
The course features two completely different nine’s. The now front nine plays just 3004 yards and maybe six of the nine holes are birdie holes. There are short par 4’s and par 5’s where it is just going to be a wedge approach. The front is the more forgiving nine and has four parallel holes with high fescue and mounding dividing them. These holes have a links feel to them. The back is tougher and heads into the woods with some forced carries and doglegs. On the back position is important but a good shot is still rewarded. The course has small, narrow greens which were a good test for my short irons. I count four holes that play a club and a half up or down a hill while the rest feature no more than half a club of elevation change. The course starts out with a short, downhill par 4 that is all about position. There is trouble down both sides of the hole and the green is narrow. The 3rd is a 508 yard par 5 with an odd tee shot. The tee shot plays downhill to what looks like a generous fairway. Once I got down to the fairway I realized that it was actually quite narrow unless someone can carry it a long way. The 8th is the other par 5 on the front and is only 463 yards. The fairway has a couple creeks that cut across it but a tee shot placed short of the first creek did allow me to go for the green with a hybrid. It is one of those holes that could take a couple times to play it but I thought it was fair because it allowed for a decent birdie chance. The 9th is the toughest hole on the course and plays only 358 yards. The tee shot is narrow and the approach plays two clubs uphill. The 10th is a 466 yard par 5 that plays downhill and then across a lake. A tee shot down the right leaves a shorter approach into the green but requires a cut shot around a tree to get to the green in two. The 15th is a standout par 3 that plays across a natural area. The green gets more narrow towards the back so I had to play short of the flag in order to avoid bringing the trouble (behind and to the left of the green) into play. There certainly were some thought provoking holes to play that would reward a good shot.
Had I know what the conditions were like I probably would have found somewhere else to play. Because of the conditions I would price it around $20 instead of the $40 that I paid. Most of the tees were beat up pretty bad and it required searching for some grass. In fact, I slipped during my tee shot on the 18th because that tee was all covered in moss. The greens had recently been sanded with grains of sand almost the size of small hail. This cause putts to bounce offline so it wasn’t much fun to putt because anything over a couple feet could easily miss. However, I think the greens would have rolled fine without the sand. The fairways were in good shape but the rough was inconsistent with bare patches. My suggestion would be to shy away from here until it is in better shape.