I had Friday off which made it back to back three day weekends for me which is something that I could get used to! I met up with a couple folks from a golf forum that I’m a member at and we had a mid morning tee time at Swan Point Golf Club in Maryland. I’m not going to review it again since I first played there last fall and most of my thoughts are still the same, but I will say that it was easier to play this time around. I knew some spots where I shouldn’t hit it so I was able to put together a decent score without having my “A” game.
I met one of the guys in Fredericksburg and was ready to leave town about 4:30pm. It gets dark about 8:30pm this time of year and I’ve taken advantage of the long days for some late afternoon rounds in the last 60 days. Fredericksburg Country Club is one of the courses offering plays in the VSGA discount book so I decided that I’d call the course and ask a couple questions. I was told that carts would need to be in by 8pm, but if I wanted to walk then I could golf as late as I wanted. I got over to the course a bit before 5 o’clock but then ran into a snag. On the door to the proshop there is a sticker showing which major credit cards that they accept but I was told that it is cash only. I think the course has so many members with tabs that they are trying to cut out an extra expense, but that was a problem for me as I rarely have more than $5 or $10 in cash on me. I found an ATM at a nearby gas station and ended up on the first tee a quarter after five. So things didn’t go exactly as planned and I tried to hurry around the course to squeeze in my round. I think my hurried play cost me some strokes but it ended up working out as I played the front nine in about an hour and 10 minutes. That left me with an hour and a half to finish the back, but I caught up to a family twosome on #9. I didn’t want to press them, so I dropped the cart off and walked the back nine which wasn’t a tough walk. As it turns out, I could have kept the cart and still finished before they needed to be turned in as I hit my last putt just before 8pm.
The property is along the Rappahannock River, but only a couple holes have river views. There is some natural vegetation that is along the river bank so the views were partially obstructed. Most of the holes are fairly flat with enough gentle elevation changes to keep things interesting. There are some doglegs, fairway bunkers, and a few semi-blind shots to mix up the challenges. I played the Black tees which play 73.2/130/6705 and in many ways the course reminded me of Lake Wales Country Club in Central Florida where I played my college golf (only FCC is a bit longer). I say this because there is a driveable par 4 which is a good risk/reward hole, a reachable par 5, fairly generous fairways, and green complexes that are the most difficult part of the course.
The greens here are very tricky and I lost plenty of strokes on and around them. I was talking about the course with one of my friends from the forum and he was actually a member here for years. Apparently the knock against the course was the greens were too flat and that made it an easy course. The course was closed for a year and the greens were all re-done to what they are now. The greens have plenty of noticeable humps and bumps in addition to more subtle breaks which made both lag putting and short putting difficult. Also, there are false fronts and edges. On some of the elevated greens I had to decide if I wanted to play a bump and run into the hill or if I wanted to try a lob wedge with some spin. Plenty of times I hit what I thought was a decent chip and it would trickle 10 feet past the hole or catch an edge and run into the fringe. I wish that I would have had a little more time to try to read some putts or figure out exactly where to land a chip.
The course was in great shape and it is one of the better all around maintained courses that I’ve played in the state this year. The greens had a few ball marks but they rolled fast and true. The tees and fairways were a bit long but that is normal this time of year. I was impressed that there were very few divots in the fairway and no burnt out spots to be found. If I lived within a half hour or 45 minutes I’d be sure to take advantage of every play offered to the VSGA members as I really liked the course. I found it fair but it still was a challenge. It is the type of course where some bogies are going to be made, but it also offers plenty of birdie opportunities.
#1 (534 yard par 5):
This is probably a reachable par 5 as it plays a little downhill and was downwind when I played. I snapped a driver into the trees and had to play down the 2nd fairway for my layup so I didn’t see much of this one. There is a false edge on the green on the right side where my ball hit and rolled off.
#2 (424 yard par 4):
This is a stern test. The tee shot can run out a few extra yards here as it will most likely hit a downhill slope in the fairway. If it doesn’t chase to the flat part of the fairway then it is going to be mid or long iron from a slight downslope into a green with a false front. I carried it pin high to get over the false front and was left a twisting 30 footer that wasn’t much fun.
#3 (578 yard par 5):
I’d say this long par 5 is easier than the length indicates if someone can avoid the out of bounds that runs down the left side of the hole. The layup has a good chance to hit a downslope and run a few yards closer to the green which should leave a wedge into the green, even on this hardest ranked hole on the course.
#4 (297 yard par 4):
This is one of the better holes on the course in my opinion. It is a short par 4 with some cross bunkers that are maybe 240 or 250 yards to carry. That is a big carry, but if it was downwind I would have been tempted to try to carry them. If someone can do that then there is a downslope where the ball will be landing so it could end up running onto the front of the green. I hit an iron off the tee and was left with a semi-blind shot into a large green with two tiers.
#5 (358 yard par 4):
This is a dogleg left where the tee shot needs to go from right to left. There is some slope from right to left to help keep it out of the trouble, but it was the toughest tee shot on the course for me even hitting just a hybrid. The approach plays to an elevated green where only the top half of the flag is going to be visible from the fairway. It is a sneaky tough hole considering the yardage.
#6 (198 yard par 3):
There aren’t any tricks on this par 3. The key is to avoid that bunker. The flag was in the back right when I played so a shot can run up onto the green if it gets a good bounce, but the hole would be much more difficult with a back left flag.
#7 (326 yard par 4):
Most likely this is going to be something less than driver and a short iron into the green. There are fairway bunkers up there to narrow the tee shot if someone wants to go with more club. It is a good birdie chance.
#8 (160 yard par 3):
This hole plays a club downhill to a large green that slopes from left to right. There is out of bounds left of the green and trouble short. I always find it tough to take less club when there is trouble short, but that’s what is needed here.
#9 (439 yard par 4):
The tees were up when I played and it was still hard to tell which line to take from the tee. The hole moves right and the hill kicks everything left all the way up to the green. The second shot is a club up the hill. There is a little more room right than it looks from the tee, but par is a great score from any tee.
#10 (364 yard par 4):
This hole doglegs left and plays a little downhill. I saw a few white markers down the left side which I think play as in course out of bounds. That will keep someone from playing down the 9th hole which would be an easier way to play the hole. The tee shot is most likely a layup of 200 to 230 yards to avoid those bunkers or someone can try to carry a driver over those trees on the left.
#11 (441 yard par 4):
The river is off to the left and this hole is straight away, just long. There is room to miss right off the tee but the green isn’t very receptive to a long iron. It is one of those holes where a lot can go wrong so I wouldn’t mind a bogey.
#12 (169 yard par 3):
This par 3 plays a bit uphill to a green that slopes from back to front. I missed long and right and was left with a tricky downhill chip.
#13 (475 yard par 5):
This par 5 starts a stretch of four holes where someone can make up some ground. The hole turns a little left but the main challenge off the tee is a narrow fairway and out of bounds left. If the tee shot is in play then someone can knock it on the large green in two and have an eagle chance. An out of position tee shot could result in an awkward lie as there is some mounding short of the green.
#14 (407 yard par 4):
There is a massive fairway here so there shouldn’t be any trouble to find it from the tee. The approach is uphill and the green surface cannot be seen, but if someone knows where the pin is then the approach could be hit close.
#15 (317 yard par 4):
This hole is very similar to #7. It is a long iron and then a wedge to a green that seemed to be tilted a bit from left to right. This is an excellent birdie chance.
#16 (391 yard par 4):
This is a dogleg left par 4. The toughest part about the hole is trying to pick the correct line off the tee. It was about 220 yards to carry the right fairway bunker which is the line that I picked and 250 yards to carry the left bunker. Once that is done it is a mid or short iron into an inviting green. Make sure not to miss long with a back flag or it will be an almost impossible to get the chip inside 15 feet. I think there is some more in course out of bounds on the left side.
#17 (240 yard par 3):
This could be one of the longer par 3’s that someone plays throughout the year. The green is larger and it isn’t surrounded by trouble so it can give someone a chance to make a par on a long hole. I hit it pin high left and had to land my chip just to the right of a ridge to get it close.
#18 (587 yard par 5):
This is the second of back to back long holes to close. The tee shot allows for plenty of room right which is going to leave the best angle for the layup. It is going to have to be three solid shots for a birdie putt.