Colonial Hills Golf Club (Forest, VA on 04/06/14)

I had a few ideas in mind for my afternoon round which included Colonial Hills, Ivy Hill, and London Downs. I verified that Colonial Hills and Ivy Hill were not aerating the greens until later this month and decided on Colonial Hills because the course looked easier. I’ve got plans to head back to the area to play all of the courses on my list so I was looking for a chance to lower my handicap since I am swinging well. The course didn’t look like anything special, but it was only $25 for a twilight round, so I didn’t have anything to lose.

The website for the course gave me the idea that it could be a decent place, and it might be at a different time of year, but when I played the conditions were terrible. I don’t know if this is typical throughout the year or what, but I didn’t have a banner day picking courses on Saturday as far as conditions go. The course didn’t look very good because the fairways were trying to grow in and trees still don’t have their leaves. The saving grace is that the course is in a scenic area and there are views of the hills off in the distance so that had a calming affect. The fairways and tees were in bad shape with many weeds, bare spots, and different types of grasses. It was tough to tell where the fairways stopped and where the rough began. There aren’t any cart paths here (except around the tees and greens) so I think that could cause some poor conditions in the fairways, especially when other courses in the area are cart path only when it is wet.  The greens were the in good shape considering the rest of the course and while some putts wobbled offline, that number wasn’t unreasonable for the price. Actually, the greens here were better than Mariners Landing for my morning round. For only $25 I didn’t feel that the poor condition of the course spoiled my afternoon, but if its in good shape I wouldn’t mind playing it again.

The course is an older, shorter course and only played 6405/70.0/121 from the Blue tees where I played. It’s a par 71 and the yardages vary quite a bit for a shorter course. The par 4’s range from 290 to 425 yards and there are a two par 3’s which required that I hit a long iron. Most of the holes are parallel and divided by trees but doglegs, elevation change (hence the name!), and small greens are the course’s main defense. Personally, I feel that it plays harder than the rating and slope indicate and found it involved off of the tee. I had to put a lot of thought into where to hit it and how I wanted my tee shot to land on the firm fairways. I had to make a decision to flight the ball higher or lower so that it didn’t run into a bad spot after it landed. It is a course where someone could make a bunch of birdies, but end up with an average score because of one or two big numbers.

As mentioned, many of the holes are parallel to each other. From the clubhouse looking out the 10th and 18th are on the left side of the range and the 1st and the 9th are on the right side. Then, behind the range is the 8th so it looks like a really compact layout which is typical when compared to other courses built in the 1960’s. The course starts out with a couple holes that fit with my expectation of the course before I got to the 3rd, 4th, and 5th which are the only holes on the property that play on the other side of a lake. On the other side of the lake is a pretty significant hill and this stretch of holes is dominated by the hill. I could see someone having that big number on one of these holes and I think the 3rd or 4th could be borderline unplayable for the average golfer. The 3rd is a 290 yard par 4 with one of the biggest slopes in the fairway that I have ever seen. It slopes from right to left and I don’t see much chance for someone to hit a driver up by the green, even downwind, because the ball will kick so hard left. I think the only place to hit the ball is down by the water where it is flatter. I tried to sling a hook off of the hill, missed it right, and almost had a baseball swing with my wedge. The 4th is a 425 yard par 4 that slopes the other way. I hit a couple balls off of the tee and one of them hit the left center of the fairway and rolled 50 yards right down the hill into the junk. My first ball actually got caught up in a white net right of the fairway which the proshop told me was to keep shots from going all the way down the hill. The 12th, a 356 yard par 4, kicks off a stretch of some brilliant golf holes. The 12th is a dogleg right with a blind tee shot and the trick is to figure out how far to hit it off the tee. I smashed a 3 iron down the right side and ended up in-between two trees and had a blind wedge into the green. If I would have challenged the left side and hit it a bit farther then I would have had a clear view of the green. I don’t like blind shots, but as soon as I got to my ball in the fairway I realized that I could have avoided the second one. The 13th is a par 3 that climbs a hill and challenged my ability to pick a club. The course has back to back par 3’s which normally is something that I don’t care for, but they are a better option than a par 3 on flat ground at a different point on the back nine. The 14th, a downhill 206 yard par 3, is the signature hole as it has the hills off in the distance and water left of the green. The course also has back to back par 5’s and is probably the only course that I have ever played with both back to back par 3’s and par 5’s on the same nine. The 17th, at 453 yards, is the fun par 5 because it is reachable.

If the course was in better shape and the 3rd and 4th holes were made more playable, then it would be a good option. I liked how the course makes such good use of the land to create some memorable holes and I loved the collection of par 3’s.

Some more signs of spring!

0-1

#1:

1-1

#2:

2-1

#2 approach:

2-2

#3:

3-1

#4:

4-1

#5:

5-1

#6:

6-1

#6 green looking back:

6-2

#7:

7-1

#8:

8-1

#9:

9-1

#10:

10-1

#12:

12-1

#12 green:

12-2

#13:

13-1

#14:

14-1

#14 green:

14-2

#15:

15-1

#16:

16-1

#16 green:

16-2

#17:

17-1

#18 green:

18-1

 

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