Golden Horseshoe Golf Club: Green Course (Williamsburg, VA on 08/16/14)

At the beginning of the year when I first got my VSGA discount book I wanted to makes sure to take advantage of a round at Golden Horseshoe’s Green course. During July and August the course offers a play here for $40 after 1pm on the weekends. This offers some savings compared to the normal rate of $89 and even the $59 twilight rate. The $89 rate does allow for unlimited play which might be nice for some folks who are on vacation and have the whole day.

There are two eighteen hole courses at Golden Horseshoe and a nine hole course. The other eighteen hole course, the Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed Gold course, gets more of the attention and historically has been ranked as one of the top 100 public courses in the country from year to year. I played there years ago on vacation before I started my blog and enjoyed the course. I don’t recall too many details but there were plenty of parkland type holes, lots of square tee boxes, and I thought that it was a nice change from many of the modern courses. It is more pricey and, as usual, I was interested in playing a course that I hadn’t played before. So that is why I ended up at the Green course. However, if someone only has time for one round then the Gold course is the way to go. The courses are part of the Colonial Williamsburg Resort so there might be special offers for someone staying on the property. I’ve never stayed there but have toured the Revolutionary City and done some other touristy things in the area. Williamsburg is one of my favorite places in the state because there is so much to do for almost anyone.

I got to the course early and it was a ghost town. I was told that the next tee time wasn’t for another hour so I hit some range balls which were included in the green fee. The staff was great and I love it when a higher end course includes range balls so I had a positive experience even though the design wasn’t my favorite. More on that shortly though. I didn’t have to wait on a shot until the last hole which was great for me, but maybe a bit concerning from a revenue standpoint for the course. I’m not sure if I caught it on a typical day or not though. Beach traffic on I-64 was stop and go and it is the time of year when families take vacations to the area. Therefore, I expected the course to be more crowded.

The Green course is designed by Rees Jones who is the son Robert Trent Jones Sr and is ranked as one of the top public courses in the state. So father designed one course here and son designed the other which is neat. With Rees Jones I either seem to like the course or think it is too tough. The Green course falls into the latter for me. I played the Blue tees which play 73.0/138/6722. If you’ve followed my blog at all then you know that I like a forgiving course off the tee which is why this one didn’t fit my eye. Most holes have narrow, tree lined fairways so all I was trying to do is get it in play and avoid a big number. It didn’t work and even though I brought a decent swing, I didn’t end up with a score that was reflective of how I hit it because I hit two in the woods. I’d classify much of the course as target golf and I found myself hitting more lay up clubs off the tee than I would at an average 6700 yard course. I think that every tee shot (except one) looked the same and only a couple of the par 3’s jump out to me as memorable. Most of the fairways were lined by mounding which helped shots feed into the fairway. But that could easily work against someone too because the ball is going to kick out of play if it hits the wrong side of a mound. There wasn’t much chance for recovery and many of the greens were flat and a bit boring to putt (at least to me).

Because the course design didn’t have many things that I like, I don’t see myself heading back to play it even for the low price for VSGA members. I don’t want my comments to be reflective of the experience though and as mentioned, the staff was gracious and the course was in brilliant shape. The fairways and tees were cut short so I always had a nice lie and stance. The greens were a bit soft, but they rolled great and were cut short too. Because of the heat this time of year, it is unusual to play a course where everything is cut down so for $40 it was a great value.

#1 (407 yard par 4):

There isn’t really anything too interesting about the opening hole. It is a mid length par 4 that is a bit uncomfortable visually because it plays slightly uphill. The green was a bit deeper than it looked from the fairway.

1-1

#2 (383 yard par 4):

I didn’t take advantage of this one, but it could be a good birdie hole if someone can find the fairway. It doesn’t really open up down the left side so make sure to favor the right side off the tee. A miss over there could catch the mounding and end up just fine.

2-1 2-2

#3 (335 yard par 4):

I’d say that this is your typical golf hole in Virginia. There is no forgiveness if it hits the wrong side of the mounds that line the fairway. The good news is that it is short enough so someone doesn’t have to try to hit a driver. The pin was tucked on a back left tier when I played which made it hard to get at.

3-1

#4 (357 yard par 4):

If you are counting this is the 4th par 4 in a row and it looks the same as the last few holes. The green is pretty small so it would help to be able to control the spin from the fairway.

4-1 4-2

#5 (537 yard par 5):

This hole would be a lot better if there wasn’t a collection area on the right side of the fairway that feeds shots into the rough. I like the bunkers down the left as they allowed me to visualize the left to right shot that I wanted to play.

5-1 5-2

#6 (427 yard par 4):

The longer hitters can get some drives that run out after hitting a downhill slope so the driver might not be needed. For me I hit it down the left side and it kicked off a mound into a great spot. If the pin is towards the front of the green it might be a birdie chance even with a mid iron into the green.

6-1

#7 (163 yard par 3):

Any shot hitting left of the green could easily kick out of play so make sure to favor the right center of the green. The wind was swirling when I played so that had me guessing on the correct club.

7-1

#8 (520 yard par 5):

This tee shot is a breather! This has to the largest fairway on the course and the only trouble finding it is going to be for those who don’t carry it very far. Even after a good drive, I couldn’t reach in two because it plays uphill all the way to the green. My approach was semi-blind up the hill.

8-1

8-2

#9 (176 yard par 3):

This is a nice looking par 3 that is framed by bunkers on all sides and trees in the back. If some hits a solid iron shot then there shouldn’t be much trouble finding the green.

9-1

#10 (332 yard par 4):

This is another position hole. It moves ever so slightly left and the fairway runs out down the right if someone hits it too far. I would think a long iron and a wedge should cover the distance. It is one of the best birdies chances on the course.

10-1

#11 (173 yard par 3):

This is my favorite hole on the course. This par 3 plays from an elevated tee over a hazard short of the green. I would try to play to the center of the green every time. That way a mishit would have a chance to end up on the front edge. I found that it played about a club less than the yardage.

11-2 11-3

#12 (426 yard par 4):

A tee shot down the left side is going to kick right so I wouldn’t mess with the right side. The green is small for a possible long iron.

12-1

#13 (373 yard par 4):

Like many of the other holes, a straight tee shot is most important here so it might be less than driver to find the narrow fairway. If someone can find the fairway it is a decent birdie chance.

13-1 13-2

#14 (441 yard par 4):

This is the second hardest hole on the course for a good reason. A hazard starts down the left side and that can come into play off the tee, on the second shot, and after a poor short game shot up by the green. The right edge of the hazard has some tall grass so it could partially obstruct a view of the green.

14-1

#15 (575 yard par 5):

This is a long par 5 that doglegs right. Any tee shot that gets going left has a chance to kick out of play and that fairway bunker could come into play. I wish the tee shot was a bit more forgiving because it is a good hole once someone gets in the fairway.

15-1

#16 (379 yard par 4):

This left to right tee shot is similar to the last hole. The fairway runs out down the left side an aggressive tee shot may need to challenge the right side.

16-1

#17 (206 yard par 3):

This is a long par 3 and one where the average golfer probably shouldn’t try to go at the flag on the right half of the green. The best play is going to be out towards that tree left of the green with a fade and hope it catches the left edge. I don’t mind a par 3 like this because I didn’t have to hit a high and soft long iron and could play out to the left for an easy chip.

17-1

#18 (512 yard par 5):

This is another tree lined tee shot which had me worried. It is a decent hole as the longer hitters can get on the green in two even though it plays uphill. I laid it up and didn’t realize that I needed to control my spin into the green which slopes from back to front.

18-1 18-2

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