As you know, I’m always looking to save a few bucks when I can! That’s why a friend and I decided to take advantage of our VSGA cards on a holiday. Goose Creek was going to be our value course for the day. Some courses exclude play on holidays with the card while others don’t. Goose Creek is a place that doesn’t, at least for 2015! We had an 8:36am tee time and were thrilled when we each got charged $20 (including cart) using our card. The normal holiday rate is $57 so the savings can really add up!
We got there a couple minutes early and noticed that the place was packed. Lots of cars filled the parking lot, group after group was headed out, and groups were waiting to tee off. It clearly was going to be a busy day for the course. That’s not a surprise though considering that we were golfing in Northern Virginia (on a holiday) and since Goose Creek is an exceptional value. We were paired up with a nice couple and played in about 4.5 hours. I couldn’t find much rhythm with so many golfers on the course, but that’s just what seems to happen when golfing up near D.C.
Goose Creek is an older style course. It originally opened in 1952 and was re-designed by Rick Jacobson in 2007. Oddly enough, Jacobson designed the afternoon course that we played, which I didn’t realize until typing this up! Like many older courses, Goose Creek features a shorter, compact layout. The course maxes out at 6,410 yards from the blue tees, where we played. However, it plays as a par 71 with three par 5’s and still has some long holes, especially on the back nine. The rating from the blue tees is 71.8 and the slope is 130. Most of the holes are pretty straight, run parallel to each other, and are separated by trees. That’s nice because someone can walk the course and can play from another fairway after a poor shot. But, that also means play from other holes can be distracting. There’s no doubt that the course is a bit cramped, as evidenced by the fact that it doesn’t have a range and a couple cart paths are in dangerous spots.
I enjoyed trying to navigate my way around Goose Creek. I thought it offered a chance to put together a good score but it still challenged me as a 3 handicap. The course’s main defense is its tiny greens! The front nine has most of the short holes so I’d try to snag some pars and birdies there before hanging on while playing the back. The back nine has a couple long par 3’s and par 4’s that are especially difficult with their small greens! There is just enough uphill and downhill to create some semi-blind shots, but there isn’t much hidden trouble. The course offered some options off the tee and I found that I could be aggressive or lay up. However, it required matching the distance and line in order to find the flat parts of the fairways.
In short, the conditions were great! I was really surprised that the course was in such nice shape considering all the play that it appears to get. The fairways had a couple patchy sections and there were a few ground under repair spots in lower areas. That didn’t affect play and I ended up with some very nice lies. The tees had plenty of grass and the smooth greens rolled great. They rolled at a playable speed and I was able to make my share of putts. There weren’t a lot of ball marks either! The rough was longish in spots so I had to be mindful of where to start looking for my ball.
Goose Creek turned out to be exactly what we wanted! It was a good deal, even more so with a VSGA card, and fun to play. Plus, management did a great job to get the course through the summer heat in wonderful shape. I’d say Goose Creek is probably worth a 45 minute drive just to check it out. If looking to play 36 holes in a day then I’d match it up with nearby Raspberry Falls!
#1 (475 yard par 5):
The 1st is the shortest par 5 on the course and it offers a chance to get off to a good start! There is a small creek to carry before getting to the fairway. The drive and layup play uphill so it won’t be as easy to get to the green in two as the yardage would indicate. If going for the green, I’d make sure that it is clear because it cannot be seen from the fairway. The green is guarded by some bunkers and slopes from back to front. There is some room right and left to track down an average shot which I think makes this a good hole to get loose!
#2 (387 yard par 4):
The 2nd is a mid-length par 4. It plays downhill and could have some semi-blind shots. A bunker right of the fairway (~240 yards) narrows the landing area so a layup club might be a good idea. I was on the right side of the fairway near the bunker and couldn’t see all of the green. My the main thing to know on the approach, into the bunkerless green, is that it falls off on the right side into a chipping area. Playing from there could be tough so early in the round so I’d be hesitant about challenging any right pins.
#3 (169 yard par 3):
The 3rd is the shortest par 3 on the course, but it plays a bit uphill (about half a club for me). The green is narrow and has a back shelf which can make it tough to judge the distance. The best miss is a bit right of the green because the ball could get a favorable bounce left. The cart path loops around the back of the green towards the front again so be mindful of groups in front and behind.
#4 (377 yard par 4):
The 4th is a par 4 that climbs uphill. From the blue tees the green is off to the right, but from the other tees it should be straightaway. The tee shot is pretty open and even the worst drive should result in just a pitch-out. I took an extra club on the approach and tried to knock down the flight from an uphill lie. Two bunkers guard the front of the green and it slopes from back to front. I’d try to leave it below the hole.
#5 (376 yard par 4):
The 5th is ranked as one of the tougher holes on the course (#5 handicap) and I’d agree. Both the tee shot and the approach are tough on this slight dogleg left. The tee shot is blind and anything ending up on the left third of the fairway could require a draw to get to the green. Because of those trees to the left, I’d suggest missing the tee shot to the right. I think a good line is over the right red tee marker towards the small “V” in the trees. The best miss is short of the green (in a bit of fairway) because the green falls off on the other sides.
#6 (411 yard par 4):
The 6th is the longest par 4 on the front nine and the #1 handicap. The hole moves a little left and out of bounds runs all the way up the left side. A draw is the best shot shape off the tee before the approach plays about a club uphill into a blind green. The green has some false edges and drops off on the right side towards out of bounds. Chipping from short of the green won’t be a bad option. The cart path loops back towards play from the fairway so be on the lookout for second shots from the group behind.
#7 (308 yard par 4):
The 7th is the shortest par 4 on the course and a chance for a good score! The green is on line with the maintenance shed off in the distance so a draw is almost needed off the tee. I hit my 210 yard off the tee, but if someone can draw a driver then that play could work great. I wouldn’t have minded a 50 yard pitch into the tiny green! When I say “tiny” that is exactly what I mean! The green is one of the smallest that I’ve seen at a regulation course and it is elevated with a chipping area off to the right. It requires a precise short iron to find it, but if that is done, then it should leave a short birdie putt.
#8 (322 yard par 4):
The 8th is another short par 4 where some strategy is needed. Much to my surprise the hole moves a bit to the right, not to the left as I thought while standing on the tee! I think the best play off the tee is to leave a flat lie for the approach. The fairway up-slopes from about 100 to 140 yards into the green. That means either hitting a longer club to the top of the hill for a clearer view of the green or laying up which leaves a blind approach. There is a deep bunker short and right of the green and it falls off over the back. A bounce off the back of the green could result in a lost ball.
#9 (193 yard par 3):
The 9th is a long par 3 and it is a tough hole! It looks intimidating because it plays over a hazard which works it way off to the right of the green. With all the trouble in play, I hit a poor shot and still found it! There is room short of the green (best place to chip from) and more space to the right than there looks. There is some slope left of the green which can kick shots right and a bunker on the low side (right side) to catch shots before they get to the hazard.
#10 (329 yard par 4):
The back nine starts out with a short par 4. Just because it is short, doesn’t mean that it is easy though! The hole doglegs slightly right and the most noticeable feature is all the right to left slope in the fairway. I ended up on the very left side of the fairway and had a flat lie so I was able to swing aggressively on my approach. There is a hazard to the left which could come into play if trying to play to the left side of the fairway so it might be best to try to use the slope to get the ball over there. Depending on which side of fairway someone plays from the approach could be a bit uphill. The green has a bunch of break and everyone in my group played at least a couple cups of break from short range.
#11 (429 yard par 4):
The 11th is the longest par 4 on the course and the start of three tough holes. It is straightaway to the green and the hole’s distance is the main challenge. The right side of the fairway is higher than the left so someone could end up with an uneven stance for a long iron approach. There is a forced carry over some rough and a small hazard short of the green. The green’s left and right sides can funnel shots towards the center so a long iron has an outside chance of getting close. However, short game shots are most likely going to land on a downslope making those tough to judge.
#12 (417 yard par 4):
The 12th is the #2 handicap and it was the most difficult hole for me, as a fader, to play! The green is straight ahead, but overhanging trees mean a draw is needed off the tee. There is trouble left all the way up to the green which had a small, back left tier where the pin was located. I was very happy with my par!
#13 (236 yard par 3):
The 13th tee box was my favorite spot on the course! It is at the corner of the course with just woods behind it so I found it to be a peaceful setting. I needed to focus in order to tackle this monster par 3! This is a tour length par 3 which has a small green. Generally, I like larger greens on long par 3’s. But, as long as someone keeps it out of the water to the left, their short game can save a par. Short, in the fairway, is the best miss.
#14 (496 yard par 5):
The 14th is the first of back to back par 5’s. The hole moves a little left and the fairway slopes from left to right in the landing area. Trees, which I think are out of bounds, run down the left side so try to avoid them. The next hole is over to the right so that is a good spot to spray one. The green can be reached in two after a good drive, but it does play uphill. The green has a back tier and the slope in the middle of the green should be able to be used to access the front section. If laying up after a poor drive, there is a small hazard to carry. I think the hazard is far enough back that it shouldn’t affect a layup after a good drive. Take a look at the next fairway while getting to this green!
#15 (494 yard par 5):
The 15th is the last par 5 on the course and a good risk/reward hole. The hole moves slightly right towards the green which is towards the 14th tee boxes. There is a small hazard that cuts across the fairway and it can be in play if missing the fairway left. It is ~220 yards to get to the second section of fairway. A bunker on the right ~260 yards could be in play for the bigger hitters. I hit my usual drive of 245 yards and decided to go for the green in two with my 3 wood. That was another risk/reward shot as I faced a blind shot and knew that water lurked short and right. There is plenty of fairway short of the green which made me more comfortable when trying to carry the water. I was rewarded with a short birdie putt! If laying up, make sure not to hit it too far as the water could come into play.
#16 (227 yard par 3):
The 16th is another long par 3! It plays a bit uphill so I opted for an extra club. Missing short of the green is the best place to play from because the green slopes from back to front. It is another hole where I was proud of my par!
#17 (425 yard par 4):
The 17th places importance on the tee shot. The fairway slopes from left to right so trying to land the ball on the left half of the fairway is the best play. That’s easier said than done though because of some tall grass to the left. I bailed out to the right and faced a blind shot into a green that slopes from left to right too. Any short game shot from left of the green is going to be speedy. Bunkers guard the green to the right. It is a pretty fair test and I ended up with a score that I deserved.
#18 (339 yard par 4):
The 18th is ranked as the easiest hole on the course. It should be a chance for a good score to end the day! The tee shot is semi-blind and with all the left to right slope in the fairway, it isn’t an easy fairway to find. Multiple options are available off the tee. The approach plays a bit downhill and I’d be cautious about challenging a back flag. Missing long could leave a shot from below green level.