The low last night throughout most of Central Virginia was forecast to be in the high 20’s so I couldn’t plan on an early morning round as I figured that there would be a frost delay. Therefore, I wanted to keep the drive to no more than an hour and when I called the course they said that it wouldn’t be busy around noon when I was looking to play. It worked out as I was told and I played through one foursome before catching up with the morning groups on the 11th hole.
In October I played Lexington Golf and Country Club which is on the other side of I-81 and it is always interesting to me how courses so close to each other can be so different. Lexington G&CC is your typical country club course that plays on the shorter side with trees separating many of the holes. The Vista Links sits on top of a hill and has an open and rugged feel with outstanding views of the Shenandoah Valley. It is not a true “links” course, but there are very few trees in play throughout the course. The course seems to be carved from the natural terrain as there are rock outcroppings that come into play and most of the holes play uphill or downhill. The bunkers added to the rugged look as they had multiple tongues and high grass on their edges. I think I would compare the course to Centennial Golf Club in Oregon because of the views and Wine Valley Golf Club in Washington because of how the course blends in with surroundings and feels so open. The course did not have any homes that came into play (except for the last couple holes) and what I liked is that I could get away with some garbage off of the tee. Most of the holes on the front nine had fescue off of the rough line which would catch a wild shot. When I played the fescue was cut down so that helped the score the couple times that I ended up in it. The back nine is tighter off of the tee and has more trouble lurking, but there still is a chance to keep a decent score from the front. I don’t want to sound like I am overdoing the praise for the course, but I enjoyed most of its design. The course was exciting off of the tee because of the angles, fairway bunkers, and slopes in the fairway but it wasn’t punishing. From the tips (72.6/139/6855) the course has three par 4’s under 360 yards and three that play 447 yards or longer so it mixes up the length of the holes to keep the round interesting.
The course starts out with a fairly straightforward par 4 that plays uphill before the course starts to get fun on the 2nd hole. The 2nd is a 587 yard par 5 that plays downhill and I think it could be reachable if it played downwind. The unique feature about the hole is that the layup needs to be play short or right of a natural rock feature. I ended up right behind it and had a blind shot from 100 yards. The 4th is a pretty par 4 that is 334 yards. It gives plenty of options off of the tee to try to get it up near the green or to hit a short iron approach. There is an old barn behind the green which adds to the aesthetics. The 5th is a downhill par 3 that plays from an elevated tee and has great views of the mountains. The 9th is a long, 464 yard par 4 that plays downhill but someone still has a chance to par it because there is plenty of room to miss left or right. The back nine tightens up a bit on the 12th and the 13th is a downhill, 152 yard par 3. I think the 13th could be the signature hole as it is picturesque and fun to play. The 14th is probably the strangest hole on the course as it plays down in a tree lined, low area of the property. I got lucky with a tee shot finding the fairway and made a birdie, but it seems like a hole where things could go wrong quickly. Because of all the trouble the hole doesn’t fit in with the rest of the course. The 16th is a downhill par 5 with trouble on each side and it also has some great views. The last two holes are a bit boring as they have some homes in play, but there are some outstanding and fun holes to play here.
Except for the tee boxes the condition of the course was fine for this time of year. The tee boxes were the worst that I have played on all year as they were all dirt with a couple patches of grass. I overheard that they were in the process of re-doing them so that would explain their terrible condition. The fairways were spotty but I got some decent lies. However, I don’t think the cold winter temperatures caused the patchy fairways as I read that the course has struggled to make ends meet in the past year. The greens rolled well for this time of year but what is funny is that they were partly frozen when I started my round. I have never played on frozen greens before so it took me a few holes to figure out how the greens would react to different shots. The layer of dirt under the grass was frozen so chips reacted normally but the full shots took a big bounce once they hit the green. It thawed out halfway through my round but it was a fun experience.
I was very impressed with the course in many respects and it was a well spent $31. I like a course that is open and scenic and that is what The Vista Links offers. I wish every course that I played throughout this last year was in this type of setting.
#1 green looking back:
#2 from the fairway: