I got done at Ashley Plantation a little later than I expected. I thought the course would clear out after a morning tournament there but I was wrong. I turned the car on at 3:45pm and called over to Botetourt to see about getting out as a single. I don’t think Botetourt is any place special, but it nearby so I wouldn’t have had to travel far. Their proshop told me that they could let me play nine holes, but they stopped letting people play 18 at 3pm due to the holiday. I wasn’t surprised and it probably is a smart business decision as I think folks would rather spend the evening with friends and family than being out on the course. That left me scrambling to try find another place to play late in the day. I didn’t know anything about Ole Monterey but the proshop told me that they were open until dark which is all I needed to hear. I high tailed it over to the course and was thrilled to see that there were maybe 10 cars in the parking lot. I got out right away at flew through the round in 2 hours and 15 minutes as I didn’t have to wait on anyone. I finished a bit before 7pm with plenty of daylight left to find my hotel and a place to eat.
Ole Monterey isn’t a destination course, and it really wouldn’t be the type of course that I’d want to spend 4 hours to play on a weekend if I was a local as I don’t think its a very good value because of the average conditions. The normal weekend rate is $40 to ride, but I got the super twilight rate of $30 so it didn’t cost much which was important to me this weekend. All that said, I had a blast playing the course. The course is a par 71 and plays 72.0/127/6684 from the Blue tees where I played. The layout is a little unusual as the front plays as a par 36 with only one par 3 and one par 5. The back is a par 35 and has all three par 3’s before two par 5’s to close. So there is only one par 5 to take advantage of the first 16 holes but this way it allows someone a chance to finish with a couple birdies.
The course is an older design (built in 1920 per the course website) so many of the features are consistent with the time. Many greens are small and slope from back to front, the bunkers aren’t very deep, and the tees are close to the greens. The course would be a reasonable one to walk and if I wasn’t trying to speed through my round I wouldn’t have minded walking. The front nine is flatter than the back, but the back offers the better views and two awesome par 3’s. I don’t know this for a fact, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the back nine was added at a later date. The back nine works its way up into the hills I think some earth would have to have been moved when that was designed. Plus the 10th hole, a short par 3, and one of my favorite holes on the course, is squished in on the front nine side of the course. Both nines have parallel holes that are open in-between them so someone shouldn’t be losing a lot of golf balls. Early on in my round I saw that the course was open and didn’t care if I found the fairway. I soon realized that I needed to be more concerned about that as I struggled to hit even a wedge onto the greens because they are so small. The combination of the small greens and plenty of slope in them challenged me from inside of 100 yards. It is the type of course where someone who putts well and hits quality iron shots is going to do well at.
The maintenance of the course was similar to that of a municipal course that can be found anywhere. The greens were on the slow side and if a putt could avoid a ball mark it had a chance to drop. Some tees were uneven, others thin, and a couple didn’t have much grass to be found. The fairways were a bit longer, but were lush for the most part. The conditions didn’t bother me as I was just happy to squeeze in another round and play some of the fun holes here. I’d say that it is the perfect place to head out late in the day to get away from life and enjoy the game. The course isn’t going to beat anyone up too badly but still should make them think.
#1 (347 yard par 4):
This is a pretty easy opening hole. The tee shot drops down to the fairway and then the approach is a short iron to a green with a lot of slope from back to front. I’d try to stay below the hole here.
#2 (406 yard par 4):
This par 4 plays back up the hill and has a narrow fairway. The approach is going to be a mid iron into another green that shouldn’t be missed on the short side.
#3 (348 yard par 4):
This is similar to the first but it was a little tricky trying to hit the tee shot to the right side of the fairway because not all of the fairway is visible. The flag was on the left and a miss left would have an almost impossible downhill chip to get inside of 10 feet unless hitting the flag. It is a birdie hole, but probably best to try for an uphill birdie putt.
#4 (452 yard par 4):
This is the number one handicap hole on the course and it deserves that spot. The wind was from the left which forced me to try to draw it around some trees into a fairway that slopes from left to right. Any miss right had a chance to end up out of bounds. The approach is going to be a long iron to another small green. There is a dry creek that is short of the green that could come into play if someone tries to knock it on after being out of position off of the tee.
#5 (407 yard par 4):
I made a mess of this one mainly because I couldn’t see the fairway on the right side. I didn’t know how much room I had to play with and it isn’t much right of the path to get into the fescue which is out of bounds. If someone can navigate the tee shot here then it is another birdie opportunity.
#6 (181 yard par 3):
The tees were up about 15 yards when I played. It is a fairly routine hole, so the biggest challenge here was trying to calculate how the wind and the drop from the tee were going to affect the shot.
#7 (518 yard par 5):
This is the easiest hole on the course and a great chance for birdie and maybe an eagle. The hole moves a little right, but any sort of solid tee shot should give a chance to chase it up by the green from a decent lie.
#8 (406 yard par 4):
This is one of the tighter tee shots on the course. Out of bounds is down the right and the same trees that affected the tee shot on #4 can catch the stray drive here. I hit a gap wedge cleanly from the fairway for my second and spun it back 20 feet as it hit into a slope on the green so precision is needed.
#9 (363 yard par 4):
This par 4 moves a little left. Less than driver is going to be the play from the tee to keep it short of a hazard which cuts across the fairway. From there it is another short iron into the green.
#10 (120 yard par 3):
This is my favorite hole on the course. As I was driving in I saw this green and thought that it might have been a practice area because it is so small. Nope, it is just a short par 3 that rewards a laser pitching wedge or 9 iron. I like it when a course has a short par 3 with a small green and this might be one of the smallest greens that I’ve ever seen.
#11 (425 yard par 4):
This hole starts the mild climb into the hills. There is a fairway bunker down the left side that I couldn’t reach but the bigger hitters might have to lay back of it. A miss right doesn’t look good, but it opens up. The second shot is uphill to a blind green but there isn’t any trouble short of the green so a shot from the rough can run up onto it.
#12 (182 yard par 3):
There isn’t much to point out about this one besides the green slopes off a bit on multiple sides so I had to be careful not to get too aggressive with my chip after missing the green.
#13 (417 yard par 4):
This one doglegs right and plays uphill on the second shot. I couldn’t reach the fairway bunker on the right, but anything left of that opens up a view of the flag stick. The second shot here plays similar to the second shot on #11.
#14 (427 yard par 4):
The tee shot here is blind and it looks like the hole falls off the edge of the earth. The hole moves a little left with some left to right slope in the fairway but the nice thing is that there isn’t any hidden trouble. A tee shot starting out over the cart path with a slight fade should end up just fine. These are the type of blind shots that I can tolerate. The second is downhill and played to what looks like a miniature green with a lot of slope from back to front.
#15 (389 yard par 4):
The 15th plays parallel to the 14th which is off to the left. The tee shot is played to the top of a rise and then the second shot needs an extra club as it is also uphill.
#16 (259 yard par 3):
This is my second favorite hole on the course. It is a monster par 3 where I actually hit a driver! My drive landed in the fringe and I rolled in a five footer (one of the few for the round) for par. I can only recall hitting driver on two other par 3’s in my life so it will be something for a group to talk about. There are a couple grass bunkers by the green and it plays downhill so it shouldn’t be a huge number even with its small green.
#17 (521 yard par 5):
This hole is the first of back to back par 5’s to close out the round. It has some great views of the area, including downtown Roanoke, and is a chance for a birdie as it plays a little downhill. My drive landed on the left side of the fairway and kicked into the rough so there is some slope to the fairway. Out of bounds on the right can come into play if someone is trying to go for it in two.
#18 (516 yard par 5):
This is very similar to #17 as it is about the same yardage, plays downhill, and has some right to left slope. It is a scenic way to close out the round.