I finished up at The Gauntlet a little before noon and had time for lunch before finding another course to play. Because of the shorter days this time of year I was more worried about getting a second round completed in 4 hours than I was in playing any specific place. I’ve still got a few courses near Fredericksburg that I would like to play but, because it was a nice day, I thought the courses would be packed with golfers. Therefore, I narrowed it down to Cameron Hills which is off the beaten path or Mattaponi Springs which is a higher end course. It made sense that both would have fewer golfers out allowing me to complete a second round. I did look at the online tee sheet at nearby Augustine Golf Club, but they didn’t have anything open until after 2pm. I settled on Cameron Hills because I didn’t want to rush my experience at Mattaponi Springs which is one of the top courses in the state.
Cameron Hills is a “mom and pop” operation as I think the wife was in the proshop and the husband was out cleaning carts. I always like playing a course that is owned by a common person because I feel that I can relate. After playing a course like this, it makes me think of exactly how much effort is put into a golf course. I am sure that there are some other folks who assist (such as a greenskeeper), but the husband was out driving around picking up trash from different tee boxes and the wife was making food in the bar too. I played the Black tees at 71.8/129/6603 and those tee boxes were not overseeded and looked like they hadn’t been cut in a while. So, it seems to me that the owners made a business decision not to put the time and money into those tee boxes for the winter. If I owned the course I very well may have done the same thing. Anyway, the family owned courses give me an appreciation for the blood, sweat, and tears that someone puts into their dream. Therefore, I am going to overlook some of the spotty lies and maintenance from the tees to the greens. Because of the smaller budget that the course is working with I was very impressed with the greens. The greens were the best part of the course. They rolled well, and while not slow, were a speed that would reward an aggressive putt. Sometimes at lower budget courses the yardages on the scorecard are different than the yardages on the physical hole markers and that is the case here. Some of the holes are blind so it would best to look at a GPS unit or the page of tips that the course provides when playing here.
I got out right away but was shocked to drive straight up a hill to get to the first tee. I didn’t expect the course to be in such a hilly area but I should have picked up on that by reading the name of the course. I just assumed that it would be flatter since it is pretty close to the Potomac River. The course is the traditional tree lined Virginia course with some elevation change and many doglegs. I would compare it to The Brookwoods Golf Club near Richmond or Lake Monticello Golf Course near Charlottesville. The course starts out with a couple holes on top of a hill before alternating groups of holes that are flat or rise and fall. The front nine is a little odd to play and while the back nine is the better, it still has a black eye with the two closing holes. The front has back to back par 5’s on the 2nd and 3rd holes and there is a blind landing area on the 3rd. The 4th is cut from a hill and slopes everything into trouble on the right side while the 6th is a short par 4 that plays on 274 yards. The hole doglegs hard from left to right but because of the angle and the tall trees there isn’t any chance to drive the green. I like a short par 4 with different options to make a birdie. All I did here was hit a mid iron off the tee and a wedge into the green which was a bit boring. The 7th is a 451 yard par 4 that moves left and has a fairway that slopes to the right into the woods. I had to thread the needle down the tree line on the left to catch the slope to end up in the middle of the fairway. That seems too risky to have to do on such a long hole. The 9th has a fun 2nd shot that drops a club or two over a ravine.
The back nine seemed to have fewer tricks and even has a split fairway on the 14th. I always like a split fairway as it encourages thought off the tee without being too harsh with a miss. The 16th is a short par 5 that could yield a good score if someone wants to challenge the blind tee shot. I didn’t have any complaints about the back until the 17th which is a 355 yard par 4 that plays uphill. Again, it is another short hole without options. A layup off the tee will end up in a severely sloped fairway with no angle to the green. So, I felt like I was forced to hit driver and try to carry it as far as possible up hill to the flat. Short holes can be tight like this one was, but they also need to have the option for someone to lay it up off the tee. The 18th is a blind tee shot that could go wrong quickly with trouble all down the right that is hidden from the tee.
In all honesty the course is course a bit overpriced for the $30 twilight rate considering the other options within an hour. It doesn’t really bother me to overpay a few dollars because it is a small business, but I don’t have any plans to go back as I didn’t like the design. The course has more blind shots than I care for and I was always guessing where I needed to hit it. I found the course harsh off the tee with too may doglegs and some aggravating sight lines which took away from my enjoyment.
#3 looking back: