This weekend, Greene Hills had a member preview which was open to the employees of the company that I work for. Green fees are normally ~$50, but the VSGA card can save a few bucks. I made sure to take advantage of even further reduced green fees this weekend! I wanted to get some exercise and refresh my memory about the course for my blog. I’ve got some fresh pictures and some hole by hole commentary now!
Greene Hills is located about a half hour north of Charlottesville. The course is about 10 minutes from U.S. Route 29 which is the major north/south route through central Virginia. The highway runs east of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Greene Hills is close to the foothills. That means there are some great views from the course! The area surrounding the course is country and spread out so there aren’t any homes that come into play. The only distraction is going to be some road noise on a couple holes, but that shouldn’t be too much of a bother.
As you’d probably expect considering the setting, Greene Hills has some elevation change. The elevation change adds to many holes and isn’t extreme by any stretch of the imagination. Even with some elevation change, I’ve walked the course a couple times because the tee boxes are close to the greens and there isn’t much separation between holes. That is consistent with some of the design features at the time when the course opened in 1968. Greene Hills was designed by Raymond F Loving, Jr who appears to have done some other local work.
The course plays as a par 71 and there are three par 5’s and the normal, four par 3’s. One of things that I love about the layout is that the course has an open feel to it. I’ve brought the aerosol off the tee a couple times and been able to piece together a respectable score. Generally, there is enough room off the tee to play whatever shot shape that someone likes. The back has more tree lined holes than the front, but there is some cleared out space at ground level.
The course is shorter, even from the blue tees (71.3/128/6469) where I normally play. To me, Greene Hills presents two major challenges. First, there is as much slope in the fairways as any course that I can recall. Local knowledge helps because there are multiple holes that require a tee shot to a certain part of the fairway to let the ball feed towards the center. At times I’ve found it frustrating off the tee because a decent drive can keep rolling sideways into the rough. That also means it is tough to get a clean hit from the fairway. Second, the surfaces of many greens cannot be seen from the fairway. That always makes it tougher for me hit a shot pin high.
I’ve played Greene Hills four times and during different seasons, including the offseason. I’ve always been impressed with the maintenance! The fairways don’t have many divots, there aren’t any bare patches, and the greens are flawless. The greens are always smooth and fast and are a major reason that I look forward to my next round there.
My two quibbles about the course is that there is too much slope in the fairways and that there isn’t much variety in the par 3’s. They all play between 154 to 170 yards and are a bit uphill. I wouldn’t let that keep anyone away though! Overall I like Greene Hills and would recommend it if someone is looking for a new course to play outside Charlottesville.
#1 (475 yard par 5):
The 1st hole is a potentially reachable par 5, but there are a few tricks starting out on this dogleg right. The fairway runs out ~250 yards and there is a creek that can come into play if someone hits it too far. The best play off the tee is a ~230 yard club out towards that cart in the picture. The ball should kick right towards the edge of the fairway. From there it is uphill into the green which will best receive a draw. Unfortunately, from the fairway it is going to be a downhill, cut lie. Someone is going to have to hit a couple great shots to get onto the green in two. The right side of the fairway is best for the layup and chipping from short of the green is a good play. The green slopes a bit from back to front.
#2 (154 yard par 3):
The 2nd is the shortest par 3 on the course. It is ranked as the easiest hole and probably for good reason. It should be just a mid or short iron into a fairly large and flat green. Controlling the distance could lead to a par or birdie. Putts seem to break more than they look.
#3 (356 yard par 4):
The 3rd is a short par 4 that drives me nuts! I’ve tried multiple clubs off the tee without much difference in my score. It is a straight away par 4, but there is a bunch of right to left slope in the fairway. Playing the approach from the left side of the fairway leaves the best angle, but the bounce on the drive has to be considered. On the approach someone is going to have to factor in the severe hook lie into a green that best receives a cut (around the greenside bunker). Out of bounds lurks over the green and there is a false front. The only good news is that than there is more fairway to the left than it appears from the tee.
#4 (397 yard par 4):
The 4th is a mid-length par 4 that doglegs to the left. The fairway is wide, but it is always tough to hit because it slopes severely from left to right. A tee shot landing in the center of the fairway can easily roll into the right rough. Therefore, I’d suggest aiming down the left side of the fairway. The approach will be from a cut stance and shouldn’t be hit over the green.
#5 (416 yard par 4):
The 5th is the #2 handicap, but the good news is that it could be just a short iron into the green. The tee shot is semi-blind and there is an aiming flag in the center of the fairway to help pick a line. I’d suggest aiming left of the flag as the fairway has some slope from left to right. The tee shot should get a big bounce off a downslope and roll out. The approach is going to be from a downslope, over a creek, and into a green that slopes from back front. There is a small false front on the green and all that makes it tough to get the approach pin high.
#6 (170 yard par 3):
The 6th is a mid-length par 3 that over a pond. The green angles from front right to back left around a bunker and the general slope is from right to left. The hole sets up best for a draw. The water shouldn’t come into play unless trying to attack a left pin. Putts break with the slope from right to left. My good shots don’t seem to get to the hole, so I think it plays a few yards uphill.
#7 (350 yard par 4):
The 7th is the shortest par 4 on the course, but it is one of my least favorite holes. It plays uphill and doglegs right around some trees. There is a large tree on the left side of the fairway (~110 yards from the green) which is actually the best line off the tee because of the left to right slope. That tree pinches an already narrow fairway. There is some room to the right the farther that someone hits it so I don’t care to layup off the tee. The approach is about a club uphill into a green that angles from front left to back right around a bunker.
#8 (368 yard par 4):
The 8th doesn’t seem like it would be much trouble, but the tee shot and the second are more difficult than it would appear. The fairway slopes hard from left to right towards a pond right of the fairway (which can come into play). The fairway bunker on the left is ~245 yards to reach and I try to aim at it for a right kick. The second shot is another cut lie into the green and that makes it tough to access left pins. The green’s surface cannot be seen from the fairway and it is deeper than I expect.
#9 (434 yard par 4):
The 9th hole is a long par 4 and most of its difficultly comes from that. It slides to the right and the fairway is wide. I try to hit my tee shot at the chimney on the right side of the clubhouse. The approach plays into a green with some right to left slope. The green falls off short and left.
#10 (419 yard par 4):
The back nine starts out with a tricky par 4. It plays downhill and doglegs to the right. Picking the correct line and shot shape off the tee is needed to keep the ball in the left to right sloping fairway. I’ve hit a few good tee shots that just kept rolling into the right rough. It is going to be another cut stance on the approach. There is water to the right of the green so guard against that miss.
#11 (489 yard par 5):
The 11th is a dogleg left par 5 that can be reached in two. The tee shot is blind, so if you have time I’d suggest riding up to take a look. I normally aim out over the red tee box. Missing the fairway to the right can bring a creek into play. If going for the green then it will require almost a snap hook around some trees to the left of the fairway or a high shot. There is some back to front slope in the green. I don’t think it is the best designed par 5, but it is still a birdie chance. The green is located in a serene spot with nice views of surrounding farmland.
#12 (382 yard par 4):
The 12th is one of my favorite holes on the course even though it is the #3 handicap. It is a good risk/reward hole and has some great views! It doglegs left around a pond which is tough to see from the tee box. I normally hit a layup club out towards that pine tree (on the right third of my picture) and try to draw it. The fairway narrows, but someone can challenge the pond with a driver. The green is surrounded by bunkers and I’d try not to miss over it.
#13 (474 yard par 5):
The 13th is the final par 5 and the one that probably offers the best birdie opportunity! It is straight away to the green and has a generous driving area. The only concern off the tee is that tree to the left for those who like to fade shots and a bunker to the right. The fairway starts to upslope ~240 yards off the tee which can help hit a high shot into the green. The green has bunkers that surround all sides, but the back. This could be a chance at an eagle!
#14 (161 yard par 3):
The 14th is a mid-length par 3 that can set up best for a fade or a draw depending on the pin location. There is a creek to the left and the green slopes from back to front. It is another par 3 that seems to play a bit longer than the yardage.
#15 (466 yard par 4):
The 15th is the longest par 4 on the course and its the #1 handicap. It moves a bit right, but there is enough space for a comfortable ball flight off the tee. The fairway isn’t overly narrow, but trees can come into play if missing it. The green is small considering that it will be a long club on the second and it slopes from left to right. A couple bunkers surround the green and missing short of it is better because a pond lurks behind.
#16 (399 yard par 4):
The 16th is trickier than it looks. The hole moves a little right, but I try not to get the tee shot right of those three pine trees. The fairway bunker to the left (~255 yards) is a good aiming point for me. The fairway narrows around that same area so the bigger hitters can layup if they wish. The approach plays over a creek and into a green with a small, back tier that is tough to get to. If out of position off the tee, that creek could come into play.
#17 (401 yard par 4):
The 17th is a long par 4 because it plays severely uphill. There is a fairway bunker to the left (~240 yards) that should be avoided, but there is some room to the right to find a tee shot. The large green cannot be seen on the second shot. The green slopes from back to front and I’ve had plenty of putts get away from me. I’d try to be below the hole!
#18 (158 yard par 3):
The 18th is a closing par 3 which is something that I like! It is all carry to the green. My only piece of advice is that it seems to play an extra half club uphill.