I finished up around 11am at Rapidan and got a sandwich. During lunch I started to make plans for my afternoon round. I kicked around a couple of ideas and finally settled on Swan Point which is place that I have wanted to play. I saw a time on the course website at 2pm for $32 and gave them a call to make sure that they had not aerated the greens recently. I lucked out and was told that they would be aerating in just a couple days.
Swan Point is an upscale course that is just over the Potomac River into Maryland. The course’s claim to fame is that the layout is similar to a layout that would be found in the coastal part of North or South Carolina. The course is so unique to the area that GolfStyles, a regional golf magazine, has the course on a list of the top public courses within 125 miles of the White House. Bob Cupp did a redesign at Swan Point and I have enjoyed some of his other courses that I have played. He worked on Pumpkin Ridge, Langdon Farms, and one of the courses at The Reserve in Oregon. All of these courses are ranked well in the Pacific Northwest so needless to say, the course has been high on my list of places to play. The downside is that Swan Point is difficult to get to and from almost anywhere it will be a day trip. It took me a little over an hour to get to the course and much of that time was spent waiting at stop lights through Fredericksburg. On my drive a light rain started to fall and it was off and on throughout the round. This turned out to be good for me though as I was able to get out early and play in three hours.
Some courses can deceive when it comes to setting an expectation of the experience. The course website was spot on with details and the course challenged me in the same ways as does a course in Myrtle Beach. From the beginning of my round to the end, the holes worked their way through the wetlands with a lot of water coming into play. Some of the greens were elevated while others had sides that fell off into the hazard. The setting is nice for golf as the holes were framed by the surrounding trees, many of which were pines. A couple of the holes allowed for views of the Potomac so it turned out to be quite peaceful. I played from the Black tees which play 6859/73.1/130 but there are combo sets of tees available allowing for many options. The 1st hole is a mid length par 4 with a generous tee shot before an approach over water. The 2nd, a 445 yard par 4, is a stern test as it made me pick a line over the wetlands. A line farther left needed a bigger carry to clear the hazard. The challenge on the 3rd hole is a green with a false front while the 4th has water all down the left side. The 5th has some water hidden up by the green before the 6th, a 575 yard par 5, tests every shot. The 9th is a 395 yard par 4 which doglegs left around a hazard. It is another hole that requires shaping it off the tee or confidence to hit a straight one on the proper line over the hazard to the fairway. The back is just as interesting with the 11th, a 171 yard par 3, probably being the signature hole on the course. This par 3 is all carry over the marsh to the green which is surrounded by trouble except right of the green. I missed right and was left with a difficult chip where I had to land it on a downhill sloping spine on the green. The 12th is another par 3 which is 240 yards on the card. Thankfully the tees were up a bit, but back to back par 3’s are not my favorite design in golf. The 13th is a narrow par 4 that could be a scoring hole with a tee shot in play. The closing holes offer a chance to recover some strokes and especially the 17th and 18th. The 17th is a 488 yard par 5 that has a generous fairway and allows for a few ways to make a birdie. The 18th is a 350 yard par 4 which will have a short iron approach. I enjoyed the variety that the course offered but I think it needs some local knowledge to put up a good score. I missed it short of the false front on the 3rd and had a tough layup on the 4th. On the 5th I knocked in the water that I couldn’t see and I didn’t realize that the 15th green was a tiny target with another false front and a chipping area. Some of the greens seemed to repel shots instead of feed it closer to the hole after a bounce around the green. It definitely is a course where a miss five or ten yards offline could be very costly. On the plus side, there is a good mix of short and long holes and some good scenery. I think the course is a bit tougher than the other Cupp designs that I have played.
I was a bit worried about the greens based some recent reviews that I read while eating lunch. I read there were some bad patches from a wasp infestation, and while the greens were slower than they looked, I thought they were in good shape coming out of the summer months and especially for $32. The tees were in nice shape with just some occasional ground under repair spots in some fairways. Even though Swan Point is out of the way it certainly is worth a play if someone is within an hour and a half.