I am still trying to catch up on reviews from my Pinehurst trip, but a friend and I took advantage of a beautiful December day and played The Manor. It was my second time playing the course and I reviewed it last spring. The Manor was actually my first review here on WordPress so I’m going to give it an update and add some hole by hole commentary. Like I did recently with Stoney Creek, I’ve mixed and matched pictures from my visits to try to capture every hole. It looks a little funny, but it saved me time as I didn’t have to take another 60 or 70 pictures today and sort through them.
Most of the time I am a “one and done” type of guy when it comes to golf courses. At this point, I’ve played nearly 80 courses in Virginia and I’ve scratched most local courses off my list. So for me to play any new courses it makes the most sense financially to play two courses in a day. The short days and frost delays make it risky to try and I’d rather not have darkness chase me off the course! That made it the perfect chance to get back to The Manor!
The Manor is located about an hour south of Charlottesville in the little town of Farmville. If any Farmville locals are tempted to get offended when I say “little” please don’t! I’m originally from the San Francisco Bay Area where 5 or 6 million people live within a hundred mile radius. I’m not positive, but I’d guess that Farmville is the largest city within a half hour drive. All I’m trying to do with this is paint the picture that I wouldn’t expect such a nice golf course to be in the area! To be honest, I’m not too sure how the course survives because it is in a rural area in the middle of Charlottesville, Richmond, and Lynchburg. Travel from Charlottesville is all on the backroads so it isn’t my favorite drive.
The nice thing about the course’s location is that it has been easy to get a time when I’ve played here. I called on Friday to get a time a little before 10am and was told that we were going to be the first group out! I suspect that most play is going to be from members because I think the price point is going to be too high for the casual golfer. The normal weekend rate is $49, but we got a comfortable off-season rate of $35 which included a cart. I played on an early bird special last year for $40 so I think the course is well priced for what you get. The flexibility for tee times leads to a quick pace of play and we made it around in 3 hours and 15 minutes. Last year I played by myself in 3 hours so there should be plenty of the day left to tend to other responsibilities.
The course’s website gives the impression that it could be a winner! Although, when a course has a nice website, I never really know to expect. After playing the course twice, I’d say that the website is accurate. The course is diverse, scenic, and it has been in good shape even though I haven’t played it during peak months. The course seems to retain some water so it might be best to play it after a dry spell. The greens have rolled smoothly both times that I’ve played and I’ve got better than average lies in the fairway. The maintenance is much better than I would expect considering the course’s location!
The Manor has plenty elevation change but nothing too severe. Some courses have holes that play straight uphill or downhill which can be frustrating but there isn’t any of that here. The elevation change adds plenty of interest. The course plays through the woods and along creeks so it offers the traditional feel of Virginia golf. At this time there aren’t any homes so playing here feels like a walk or ride through nature.
Like many tree lined courses in Virginia, it is tough to play. I’ve played the blue tees both times and those tees play 6675/72.7/139. As you can see the slope is high and that’s because most everything is target golf. I’d say that the design of many holes at The Manor would be typical of holes found in the desert Southwest. There are islands of fairway, forced carries, and trouble on almost every hole. But, instead of maybe finding a ball in the desert it is going to end up lost in the woods here. There are plenty of blind shots to deal with and water hazards to avoid. I don’t care for three of the four par 5’s because I think they are poorly designed. You can read the hole by hole reviews for comments.
I’ve shot forgettable scores both times that I’ve played The Manor so I wouldn’t want it as a home course. I like a playable course and a chance to recover from an average shot. The Manor is a brutally difficult course with all the forced carries and hazards in play on almost every hole. If a tee shot isn’t hit perfectly then it very well could leave a chip out layup and another layup or a career shot to get on the green in regulation. It isn’t unfair, just tough. Even with its difficulty it is worth an hour drive to check out!
#1 (362 yard par 4):
The opening hole is the shortest par 4 on the front nine and it doesn’t look difficult on the scorecard. However, it plays around a lake which brings water into play on the tee shot and the approach. If someone fans a drive out to the right (away from the water) then it means a longer shot over the water to the green. The nice thing is that there is some room out to the right of the green which allows a place to bail. Like many holes out here, it is sneaky tough.
#2 (503 par 5):
The 2nd hole is only a 503 yard par 5, but it is the hardest hole on the course. From the pictures, you probably can see why! It is a blind tee shot to a sloping fairway followed by a forced carry to an island of fairway on the layup. From there the hole plays across another hazard to the green. If any shot is missed then it potentially brings a penalty stroke or two into play. The fairway is in the center of the picture between the lone tree and the group of trees on the right. I’d say the line from the tee is a few yards right of that lone tree because the fairway slopes to the right. Good luck!
#3 (391 par 4):
I don’t have a picture from the tee box, but the tee shot is straightaway. The fairway is reasonably wide with a lone fairway bunker on the right. There is trouble all down the left side and the hazard cuts across the fairway short of the green. That means it is all carry to the green on the approach. Someone might be able to get lucky and find a ball short of the green like I did, but its not something that I’d like to count on. The green slopes from back to front so a mid iron should stop quickly.
#4 (153 yard par 3):
This short par 3 offers a chance for a birdie. It plays to a large green that is a bit deeper than it looks. A mis-hit iron can still find the green, but it is going to leave a long putt.
#5 (398 yard par 4):
I’m also going to call this a birdie hole because the slope around the green can be used to get an approach close. The tee shot slides to the right in-between some fairway bunkers that are 230 to 250 yards off the tee. The bigger hitters should probably layup because the fairway runs out past those bunkers. I’d favor the left side of the fairway because the slope should kick the ball to the right. Even after a good tee shot, the second is going to be semi-blind. I wouldn’t worry too much about that but I would try to hit it towards the left edge of the green. The ball should land and take a nice hop onto the green and maybe get close to the hole.
#6 (561 yard par 5):
This is another goofy par 5 that is similar to the 2nd hole. It is longer but a tee shot in the fairway is just as important. It plays slightly downhill to a narrow fairway flanked by three fairway bunkers. The two fairway bunkers on the left seem to force play out to the right when the hole doglegs left. The blind layup plays to another island fairway before the approach crosses the hazard again. If the tee shot finds the rough then it could be difficult to get on the green in three shots.
#7 (168 yard par 3):
This is a pretty straightforward par 3. The main features of the hole are a bunker to the left of the green and a ridge that divides it.
#8 (410 yard par 4):
The 8th is one of my favorite holes on the course! It is a decent length par 4 that is a pretty fair test. The fairway is pretty flat considering higher ground is to the left and lower ground to the right. I’d favor the left side of the fairway because anything down the right side can kick into trouble right of the fairway. The green offers a chance to run the ball onto it if someone has a long iron which is nice.
#9 (428 yard par 4):
This long par 4 plays uphill and has several long carries to get to the green. It is a dogleg right and the temptation is to play to the right side of the fairway to make the hole shorter. That brings all sorts of trouble into play because a tee shot landing to the right of the fairway has a good chance of getting a bad bounce out of play. Even after a good tee shot it is probably a semi-blind shot with long iron over a gully.
#10 (384 yard par 4):
This is a downhill, mid-length par 4 that is a chance to get one back! The longer hitters could run through the fairway, but both times that I’ve played it I have hit a driver and had a short iron into the green. The only trouble around the green is a bunker short and right but that should be able to be avoided with a short iron.
#11 (449 yard par 4):
This is the most difficult hole on the back nine, but there is more room to miss than there looks. The fairway moves to the right with some slope that goes the other way so I’d favor the right side off the tee. If someone wants to go directly at the green with a long iron then it is going to be all carry over the edge of a hazard that is short of the green. There is a large area of fairway to the right of the green (which cannot be seen from the pictures) and that is a good spot to miss. The green is large and slopes from back to front so even a long iron can stop quickly.
#12 (142 yard par 3):
According to the scorecard, this par 3 is the easiest hole on the course. Typically, I don’t agree with a par 3 being the easiest hole, but I’ll agree here. The only real challenge is going to be judging the distance of a short iron into a deep green. The green slopes from back to front so a putt or chip from above the hole could be tricky.
#13 (549 yard par 5):
This the third par 5 on the course and it is a bit odd like the other two so far. The hole is a double dogleg as the tee shot moves left then the hole moves back to the right. The tee shot runs out into a creek around 275 yards off the tee so someone has to guard against that. From there the layup area is extremely narrow with trouble on each side. The green is also surrounded by trouble and an approach landing off the green has a good chance to kick into a hazard. I’d happily take a par!
#14 (412 yard par 4):
This is another tough one! The hole moves left, the fairway slopes right into a hazard, the tee shot is blind, and there is a carry over a creek short of the green. I would suggest a tee shot starting out in-between the cart path and the fairway with a slight draw. The ball should kick right and end up in the fairway. There is a grass bunker left of the fairway and then a sand bunker (hidden on the right side) which can come into play. The green slopes from back to front so being below the hole is best.
#15 (158 yard par 3):
Both times that I’ve played this hole the blue tees have been back 30 yards so I’ve hit long irons on this par 3. It is semi-blind because it plays downhill but it looks tougher than it really is. Anything to the right is going to end up as a lost ball but there is plenty of rough to chip from left of the green. It plays probably a club downhill.
#16 (313 yard par 4):
This is the shortest par 4 on the course and an opportunity for a good score! It plays uphill so I doubt that it is going to be driveable but I wouldn’t let that keep someone from hitting driver off the tee. The landing area is blind and there are three fairway bunkers, two on the right and one hidden on the left. The fairway gets wider up towards the green and a longer carry can eliminate the hazard on the right so that’s why I say go ahead and hit a driver. There is a valley in the middle of the green and it slopes from back to front so someone might need to control their spin.
#17 (396 yard par 4):
This hole is more of what has been seen all day. It is all carry to the fairway which doglegs left. From there, the approach has to be carried over another hazard. The green slopes pretty good from back to front so I’d make sure not to miss over the green.
#18 (498 yard par 5):
This is my favorite hole on the course and it is a wonderful finishing hole! I wish every course finished with a risk/reward par 5 that is reachable. It plays downhill to a fairway that squiggles off to the left while the green sits straight ahead. Straight ahead the fairway runs out around 275 to 300 yards from the tee. If someone hits the long ball then playing out to the left off the tee is going to be the play. If someone goes for the green in two, then it most likely is going to be from a small downslope. That can make it tough for clean contact but there is some room short to miss.