I had lunch and wasted some time before my 2pm tee time at Hunting Hills Country Club. When searching for golf courses near Roanoke, this one doesn’t return many results. Some places that I play have reviews on different websites such as Google or Golfnow, but there wasn’t much that I could find about Hunting Hills. That certainly hasn’t stopped me before when picking a place to play though! I’m willing to play almost anywhere once.
Hunting Hills is located on the south side of town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The course isn’t but a mile or two from the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway so if you want an idea of the terrain check out some pictures of the parkway using your favorite search engine. As I was driving through the community to the clubhouse there was no question about the layout. The interstate turns into a highway close to the course and I turned right into the community. The road climbed uphill and I passed by one hole with a huge tree short of the green and two other holes that played through a tunnel of trees. I knew by the time I turned off the car that I needed to do everything possible to hit it straight!
Hunting Hills is a short, par 70 course that has just two par 5’s. I played the blue tees which play only 6,058 yards. However, the rating is 71.1 and the slope is 130 so the strokes can add up quickly if someone is just a little off with the accuracy. About two-thirds of the course is tree-lined while the other third had a parkland feel to it. The fairways are generally narrow and there is plenty of slope in them which makes them even trickier to find. Throw in plenty of elevated greens and the course is a challenge, even without the odd routing.
I didn’t mind playing the front nine (except the 5th) and thought that it was tough, but fair. However, the course started to get goofy on the back nine. There are back to back par 4’s that dogleg virtually 90 degrees and a par 3 that felt forced onto the property. After playing the 12th and 13th someone rides (or walks) backwards into play to get to the next box. It seems very easy to get hit with a golf ball from another group here. I think the designer tried too hard to cram in all 18 holes, just my $0.02 though. There weren’t any impossible holes to play because the course is so short, but I did plenty of head scratching throughout the round.
Unfortunately the course conditions on the day that I played left something to be desired. I knew the greens were aerated three weeks ago but I expected them to be healed up a bit better. My putts bounced and wobbled and the greens were a bit longer with some sand still on them. That wasn’t a big deal though as every course goes through this process but I’d be curious to see how they are normally kept. There were a couple bare spots in the greens which looked concerning though. The fairways were full, but long enough that I couldn’t generate much spin. If you are considering playing here, I wouldn’t let the conditions be a worry though!
Hunting Hills is a course that doesn’t fit my game and there are plenty of other courses nearby that I’d rather play so most likely I won’t be back. There are a couple holes that are too “tricked” up for my liking. However, I motored around in 3 hours, got treated to some awesome views, and added a new course to the list so it wasn’t a bad way to spend my afternoon. If you play here make sure to take the time to enjoy playing the par 3’s because they are pretty interesting!
#1 (399 yard par 4):
The 1st is the longest par 4 on the front nine and it moves hard to the left. I hit 3 wood trying to play to the wider part of the fairway but ran my tee shot through on the right side. That left me trying to hit it high to get over some trees that partially guard the green on the 3rd. If someone can hit a big draw then it can catch the slope and really run out. The green is elevated so the ball has to carry at least to the front.
#2 (173 yard par 3):
The 2nd is one of the simpler holes on the course to play! There aren’t any tricks and I could clearly see that the green was narrower towards the front with bunkers on each side. I made poor contact but still ended up on the green because I hit it straight. The greens slopes some from back to front.
#3 (326 yard par 4):
The 3rd is the shortest par 4 on the front nine. I think the best play is hitting it about 200 yards to the top of the hill for a clear look at the green. It is pretty straight from tee to green so I just tried to avoid those pine trees on the left. I had about 140 yards downhill into the green. There is a ridge just past where that pin is located that I couldn’t see from the fairway.
#4 (174 yard par 3):
This is my favorite hole on the course! The views are incredible, it was fun to play, and I thought it was fair. It played downhill about two clubs for me to a green that slopes a bit from back to front. Therefore, the ball shouldn’t go too far once it lands so I’d make sure to carry it your intended distance. The water is set back which is nice, but I could see the long grass right of the green catching quite a few shots because of the way the green angles.
#5 (501 yard par 5):
The 5th is one of two par 5’s on the course. In short, it is a terrible design. If you look at the satellite image you’ll see that it is an almost 90 degree dogleg left par 5. The fairway runs out around around 190 to 200 yards online with that last tree on the left (in the center of the picture). Even if someone hits a high snap hook off the tee then there is a creek that cuts across in the landing area. I think long iron, long iron, short iron is the best bet here.
#6 (370 yard par 4):
The 6th is a good risk/reward hole because someone can cut the corner over that bunker. I took that option to shorten the hole and had just a short iron into the green. All sorts of options off the tee are available and there are places to bail out. The approach is a tiny bit uphill so make sure to consider that.
#7 (380 yard par 4):
The 7th is rated as the #1 handicap hole and I’m not sure why. The landing area is blind and there is a tree in the fairway, but there is plenty of room out there to find the ball. The approach is a bit blind too and plays into a green that angles to the left around a bunker. Par is certainly something to be proud of don’t get me wrong! However, considering some of the other holes on the course, I don’t see how someone is going to have a scorecard disaster on this one.
#8 (353 yard par 4):
The 8th seems like a pretty good chance for birdie if someone can judge the approach correctly. I like to hit it left to right and I felt comfortable on the tee even though the hole moves left. There is some slope in the fairway from right to left so I don’t see any reason to challenge the left side with all the trees. Like most holes here, I think a layup club is best off the tee. None of the green’s surface can be seen on the approach which makes distance control tough.
#9 (363 yard par 4):
The 9th is another hole where I think the dogleg is too close to the tee. The fairway runs out around 230 yards so a shorter layup or a cut is needed to find the short grass. If someone wants less than 150 yards into the green then I think it turns into a risky tee shot. The approach is similar to the last couple with a slightly elevated green.
#10 (462 yard par 4):
The back nine starts out with the longest par 4 on the course. I have no idea how it isn’t the hardest hole (#2 handicap) because it plays from an elevated tee into a tunnel of trees! I guess someone could hit a layup club off the tee but then you could run the risk of not being able to get to the green in two if it isn’t solid. On each side of the fairway are some side boards, but it is a narrow hole, especially since the ball is going to stay in the air some time. It is too narrow for my liking as a par 4, but I think it would make an awesome par 5!
#11 (299 yard par 4):
The 11th is the shortest par 4 on the course and it is crazy! It is a dogleg right and someone can try to cut off some of the corner. I hit my 210 yard club and caught it good. I had 85 yards into the green from the middle of the fairway, but couldn’t hit a normal shot because there was a big tree in front of me! I hit one of my shots of the day and chipped a 9 iron along the ground and onto the green. The only way to have a clean shot at the green is to hit it to the far edge or left of the fairway. A short par 4 should have options instead of just one way to play it!
#12 (395 yard par 4):
This is another goofy one! The tee drops a couple clubs to the fairway. However, the fairway is a tiny target because the hole is shaped like an upside down “L”. The hole goes 90 degrees to the left at the bottom of the hill. I looked at the GPS while on the tee box and it had 260 yards to the center of the green, that is how much the hole goes left!
#13 (133 yard par 3):
The 13th is interesting because it is a short par 3, but a bit awkward because the green is elevated. Distance control is important here.
#14 (475 yard par 5):
The 14th is the other par 5 on the course and it offers a good birdie chance with a couple straight ones. There is a creek and out of bounds that run down the left and trees on the right. If someone isn’t hitting the driver well, then I don’t think this is the hole to try to figure it out on! There are some bunkers that have to be carried to get to the green, but the green is deeper than it looks. It is a pretty flat green so some putts, maybe for eagle, could be made.
#15 (168 yard par 3):
The 15th is a scenic par 3 that is in a low spot on the property. The green cuts around the right bunker so an accurately struck shot going the right distance is needed to get it close. I liked that I could see all the green to plan my shot. There isn’t a bunch of lost ball trouble near the green, so recovery is possible.
#16 (348 yard par 4):
The 16th plays maybe 15 or 20 yards longer because it starts to climb the hill back to the clubhouse. The fairway narrows a bunch about 150 yards into the green and it is another semi-blind approach. I played an extra club on my second shot and it went the perfect distance.
#17 (360 yard par 4):
The 17th has a blind tee shot, but if someone can find the fairway then it is a birdie hole with a short iron approach. The tee shot is intimidating, but the fairway was wider than I expected. There is some slope from left to right so I would try to favor the left side of the fairway for a kick to the right. It is another tree lined hole so be careful!
#18 (379 yard par 4):
The final hole is another crazy one. I stood on the tee for about 5 minutes to make sure that the group in front had plenty of space since the landing area is blind. During that time, about 10 cars drove by on the road in front of the tee box! It is a pretty busy road and I’m not sure playing the back tees on this hole are worth it. It was distracting and line drive could cause serious injury. The fairway runs out around 165 from the green onto a severe downslope that is all rough. Make sure to keep it short of that.