Rock Harbor Golf Course: Boulder Course (Winchester, VA on 11/07/15)

After my round on the Rock course I inquired about a replay on the Boulder course. I was told that all I’d need to do is pay $25 and change golf carts! They’ve got different carts for each course, so if you do a replay make sure to grab all your stuff out of the old cart. I’m not sure if that replay rate is offered every day or if that is an off-season deal, but I ended up paying less than $60 to play both courses! It wasn’t a great weather day, but cheaper rates and fewer people is what I enjoy about golfing this time of year. In fact, I blitzed around the Boulder course in a little over 3 hours. After playing 36 holes I had lunch and was on the road headed home about 7 hours from when I first teed off! The gloomy, windy weather turned out to be a fair trade for quickly getting to see two new courses.

The Boulder course is the newer course at Rock Harbor. I believe it was actually completed earlier this year based on my review of the course’s Facebook page! I think the course was opened in stages which makes sense now that I’m typing this. I say that because my GPS struggled to give me the proper yardage on some holes, so if you’ve got a laser I’d suggest bringing that until the course matures more. Also, there were parts of the course that looked a tiny bit neglected when it came to the maintenance.

The course wasn’t in goat track shape, don’t get me wrong. But, some fairways were a bit longer, I saw a few clover patches, and a couple greens had patchy edges. If I had to guess I’d say that the maintenance crew worked hard to maintain the Rock course and build the Boulder course this year! I think these little imperfections will get addressed now that the crew won’t have to worry about construction. Even in it’s current state I wouldn’t let that keep you from playing the Boulder course. Other than what I mentioned the course was in good shape. The greens rolled great and were identical to the Rock course! One final thing I’ll mention is that you should expect some inconsistent bounces on the greens. Some are firmer since they are newer while others are more receptive. They are pretty much ball mark free though!

As the name indicates, the Boulder course has a “Boulder” theme. The holes are mixed in with the Rock course so the terrain and routing are very similar, although the Boulder course does mix in a few homes. You should expect just as much elevation change and just as many elevated tees as the Rock course. There are a few Stonehenge features to differentiate the Boulder course which I enjoyed. I’ll give the nod to the Boulder course for the scenery as it offers a chance to look down into the quarry!

I mentioned that the Rock course is a big course and the Boulder course is even bigger. The Boulder course plays 7500+ yards from the black tees! The main reason the course plays so long is that it is a unique setup with six par 3’s, par 4’s, and par 5’s! I like this style and wouldn’t mind seeing more courses with it. Much of the course’s yardage is in the par 5’s and three of them creep up on 650 yards, even from the blue tees where I played! The blues play 6951/73.4/137. Besides the number of 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s I found the Boulder course to play similar to the Rock. There are plenty of long holes, a few long carries, and large greens with lots of undulation. Sometimes I felt that all the undulation took away from smart iron play because I was left with a putt that broke a mile! The Boulder course had less blind shots and was a bit more playable which made it easier for me to enjoy.

I had a good day at Rock Harbor and wouldn’t mind a return trip on a sunny day. Neither course is as player friendly as I like, but they are unique and that’s important to me! If you only have time to check out one of the courses then I’d probably recommend the Rock course, but only by a narrow margin!

#1 (372 yard par 4):

The 1st hole at the Boulder course is one of the easier holes, so it’s a nice opener! It actually is parallel to the 1st on the Rock course which is off to the left. Those volcano bunkers that I mentioned in my review of that course are now on the left! This fairway should be easier to hit, although it does narrow because of a hillside that pinches on the right. The bigger hitters will want to play it down the left side or consider laying up. The green is flatter so it could be a chance to drain a putt!

 

1-1 1-2

#2 (187 yard par 3):

The 2nd is as tough a par 3 as you’ll ever find without any lost ball trouble! It plays at least a club uphill, although two extra wouldn’t be a bad idea. The green is shallow, but wide and guarded by bunkers short and long. Getting the distance right and holding the green, with a long club (because of a flatter flight) is going to be tough. Plus, the bunker short has a rock face! I missed it short right of the green and had a pitch from well below green level. Good luck!

2-1 2-3

#3 (425 yard par 4):

The 3rd is one of those holes that normally wouldn’t be very special because of all the homes, but I liked it a lot because of the rock wall that lines the hole and circles the green! It is a dogleg right and features a tee shot where someone can cut off as much of the dogleg as they’d like. A waste bunker starts up on the right and the fairway upslopes when receiving tee shots so I’d err on a more conserative line. From the fairway it will be a cut lie into a green that is designed to possibly receive a long iron. I landed my 5 iron short and left of the green and it got a favorable bounce onto the surface.

3-1 3-2 3-3

#4 (480 yard par 5):

The 4th is the first, and easiest, of the six par 5’s! It is confusing and I wish that I would have taken more time to figure out the best play. The green sits over that group of rocks in the picture, basically right over the white tee markers. My drive ended up down the right side of the wide fairway and I hit my 3 wood off to the left, towards the 5th green thinking that was where I wanted to go! Laying up to the left certainly is an option, but you don’t want to hit it through the dogleg like I did. If going for the green in two then you will have to carry those boulders, but there is plenty space to find the ball short of the green. The pin in the picture was on a small back tier and returned my putt to me when it didn’t climb up the hill. This should be a birdie chance unless the pin is on that table top.

4-1 4-2

#5 (176 yard par 3):

Th3 5th is a a mid-length par 3, but it is downhill and it has a large green. Both of those things make it a bit easier shot from the tee shot than on most par 3’s that are similar distance. It is probably between one and two clubs less and I decided to take two less and swing hard! That worked out well as I ended up pin high. Hitting the green shouldn’t be a tall task, but a two putt might be! There is a shelf on the back left section that could be hard to find.

5-1 5-3

#6 (651 yard par 5):

The 6th is a massive par 5 and the #1 handicap! Like the last, it is downhill which knocks off quite a few yards because of the distance to the green. The hole offers a change of scenery as it is tree lined and moves off to the right. The fairway is generous to receive tee shots although out of bounds does creep in left of the fairway. The layup is the most demanding shot as the fairway splits left and right of some trees and mounding. I played down the right side where a rock wall can affect shots. I’m not sure if the normal green was closed or if the hole is supposed to have two greens, but there is a small (almost temporary sized) green that was in use when I was there. For a long par 5, it is a fair one that made me think!

6-1 6-2

#7 (352 yard par 4):

The 7th is the shortest par 4 on the course so it could be a scoring opportunity with a short iron. It plays uphill so hitting more club off the tee isn’t a bad idea, especially if you can draw the ball. If you fade the ball (like me!) then it is an intimidating tee shot with the rock wall to the right. The second shot is a little strange, as there are two greens. I suppose it could have been one big green, but the middle portion (behind the trees) would have been an unfair spot for a pin location. The back green could still be borderline unplayable with those four trees.

7-1 7-2

#8 (232 yard par 3):

The 8th is the second best par 3 at Rock Harbor if you ask me! I wish that I could have caught it on a sunny day! The quarry is behind the tee, which is on a bank so it sets up a dramatic drop down to the green. My guess is that it plays three clubs less than the yardage. Personally, I’d just try to play to the front edge every time and try to two putt! The narrow green is guarded by bunkers and slopes from back to to front. There is water to the left that could come into play and the green falls off over the back edge, so there is plenty of trouble. Enjoy the scenery and have fun on this one!

8-1 8-3

#9 (630 yard par 5):

The 9th is another monster par 5! Like the 6th it is downhill so it plays shorter, but I actually think it is tougher. There is a healthy carry to the fairway before someone will face a layup to a blind landing area. The layup is most likely played out to the left before the hole goes downhill and right to the green. The layup will land on a downhill slope so make sure to account for a big bounce. I ended up with a severe downhill lie from 150 yards which had me playing defensive into the green. There is a split fairway for the layup, but I think it is almost useless. The right side is extremely narrow, doesn’t allow you to get too close to the green, and third shots are going to have to deal with trees everywhere! Water is off to the left of the green and there is a small, elevated back section on the green. If the layup area was wider and flatter then I think it would have been a better hole. I was very happy with my bogey!

9-1 9-4

#10 (644 yard par 5):

Guess what the 10th is?!? It is another monster par 5! It is the #4 handicap and was brutal to play. I’ve played a few par 6 holes that were easier! The hole angles out to the right and then back to the left with water all down the left side. If you don’t hit a good drive then it might be a four shot hole because the fairway is two sections, one for tee shots and the other for layups. A saving grace is that the right side is a little higher and feeds shots towards the left. The approach plays over the water to a flatter green. If you can hit three good shots leaving a birdie putt then you could run it in!

10-1 10-3

#11 (126 yard par 3):

The 11th is the easiest hole on the course and a great chance to stick one close with just a short iron. It is the shortest hole at either course, and although a bit squished onto the property, will still be a relief to play considering all the other long holes up to this point! The green angles from front left to back right between two bunkers so a decent shot is still required.

11-1 11-2

#12 (365 yard par 4):

The 12th is a short par 4 with a couple tricks up its sleeve! The green is straight ahead but two waste areas start up around 120 yards to the green which narrow the fairway. Unless you can carry the waste areas then I’d suggest laying up short of them. Most likely, the approach will be semi-blind into a green that is shared with the Rock’s 13th hole. This part of the green is cut from the hillside so there is a steep slope to the left and water to the right. I missed left of the green, in that hillside, and had to hit a great chip just to get it to 10 feet!

12-1 12-4

#13 (147 yard par 3):

The 13th could play as a very easy hole, or a very difficult one, depending on the pin location! I got a gift pin and it wasn’t much trouble. However, I’d need the perfect club to fire at any flag over the rock wall that guards the left! The green is humpy which could aggravate a birdie bid.

13-1

#14 (409 yard par 4):

The 14th is what I would classify as a “sneaky tough” hole. It isn’t too long, plays downhill, and has a big green so it isn’t terribly complicated at first glance. However, a tree divides the fairway and the green is really wacky. This time of year, the tree wasn’t any trouble but it would be a much tighter tee shot when there are leaves on it! Much of the green appeared unusable because the left half is a high point and feeds shots off the green to the left and anything right of the ridge funnels towards the right edge of the green. I faced an almost impossible putt from 40 feet because if I played more break it would just gather more speed! I’ll add that you might consider laying up off the tee because the fairway runs out with ~125 to go and consider adding some yards to the approach, as it is deceptively uphill.

14-1

#15 (473 yard par 4):

Without much lost ball trouble, the 15th is as tough a par 4 as you will ever play. Unless you’re a tour pro of course! It is a long par 4 that is uphill all the way. The high side of the hole is on the left so that is the best spot to miss. However, if you fan one out to the left off the tee then you might have to draw the second shot. After a good drive, I still had a 3 wood for my approach (which I don’t mind), but there is a bunker short of the green which will catch any shot that doesn’t carry to the front edge. My preference on long par 4’s is an option to run the ball onto the green. That doesn’t make it a terrible hole though.

15-1 15-2

#16 (566 yard par 5):

The downhill 16th, at 566 yards, is a “shorter” par 5 by the rest of the course’s standards! The tee shot stays in the air a long time so be careful not to get anything going right. It opens up more than it looks to the left. It is all carry to the front edge of the green so most amateur golfers are going to be laying up. Just make sure to layup short of the water! The green is large and slopes from back to front so I’d try to be below the hole. I had a 30 foot putt from the wrong place and it went sideways!

16-1 16-2

#17 (177 yard par 3):

The 17th isn’t too interesting of a par 3, considering the other ones on the property! It still needs your attention though as it plays over water to a green with a back tier. If the flag is on the left then you could have a short birdie putt, but if the flag is over to the right then you’ll have to worry about water on multiple sides.

17-1

#18 (539 yard par 5):

The 18th was a tricky hole to play my first time here. The hole angles to the right off the tee then goes hard left to get to the green. I’d say the green is actually straight ahead! The fairway is narrow and blends in with the rough so I had trouble picking the perfect line for my drive. Playing more to the left on the layup will mean a longer carry over a hillside, but that will leave a shorter third. The third shot, even from short range, is tough. There is water to the left of the green and anything landing to the left will kick hard towards it. There are some bunkers hidden right of the green too. I wouldn’t get too aggressive, even with a wedge!

18-1 18-2

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