Ford’s Colony Country Club: Blue Heron Course (Williamsburg, VA on 11/14/15)

After playing Blackheath in the morning, I headed over to the proshop to inquire about a replay on the Blue Heron Course. They said $25 which made it only $56 to play 36 holes on two different courses at a quality facility! I sure do love off-season rates! For those that haven’t read my other two posts about Ford’s Colony, the facility offers 54 holes. If you only have time for one course, you might want to check out those posts to see if either of the other two interest you.

Shortly after I teed off I realized that forgot to get a scorecard! I played the black tees thinking that they would be between 6,500 and 6,700 yards, like the other two courses. That turned out to be a mistake as I found out that they are over 6,900 yards (6,928 to be exact) when I picked up a scorecard after my round! That makes Blue Heron the longest of the three courses at Ford’s Colony. Whoops, had I figured that out ahead of time I would have opted for the combo tees! From the blacks the rating is 73.1 and the slope is 134. Besides being the longest course, Blue Heron is also the tightest. There are some open holes, but there are also quite a few claustrophobic tee shots and fairways that are lined by trees. It doesn’t take much for a crooked drive to catch the trees near a tee box and spiral off in a wild direction! The course requires more of a target golf mentality than the other two courses at Ford’s Colony. Driving the ball accurately is probably going to the biggest challenge here as I had fits trying to get my fade in play on a handful of holes. If you can move the ball both ways, then you should do just fine here.

For me, Blue Heron’s design left a lot to be desired and it turned out to be my least favorite of the three courses. There is a good stretch of holes from the 8th through the 13th, which play through a pretty part of the property and includes a potentially reachable par 5, but I didn’t see anything special about the rest of the course. There just wasn’t much variety, especially on the par 4’s. In fact, all the par 4’s played between 383 and 410 yards. I’d love to have seen a short, position par 4 and then a monster one! The homes on the Blue Heron course were the most noticeable and there were a couple doglegs that seemed forced around them. The design wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t inspiring either.

The conditions were good, not quite on the same level as Blackheath, but still probably worth $50 or $60. The fairways and tees were full, although there were some squishy spots. I’m not criticizing that as Blackheath had the same thing and I have no way of knowing how the courses normally drain. The greens on Blue Heron were slower than Blackheath, but still rolled well. I was able to be aggressive with a couple putts and and didn’t have to worry as much while navigating my way across the slopes! My only complaint is that there were a bunch of leaves in play so I had to closely follow my shots. That’s just a part of Mid-Atlantic golf this time of year.

I’ll give a nod to the staff as they got me out right away for a replay, threw in a free yardage book, and told me about a couple quirky tee shots. Even though Blue Heron wasn’t my favorite course, I now can say that I’ve played all 54 holes at Ford’s Colony! There wasn’t anyone out and I blogged my way around the course in 3 hours and 15 minutes which left me some time at the outlets!

#1 (409 yard par 4):

The 1st is a difficult opener, although that isn’t reflected in the handicap! It is a severe dogleg right with an intimidating tee shot. Trees pinch the drive, but the fairway is actually pretty wide because of the dogleg. The ideal tee shot will be ~240 yards which shouldn’t run through the fairway and shouldn’t leave you blocked out by a pine tree that guards the dogleg. I’d favor the left side of the fairway, even if it adds a few yards, because it will leave extra room to carve an approach around the pine if needed! The approach plays about a club uphill into a devilish green. The green has a general slope towards the back and a small right tier, where the pin was located when I played.

1-1 1-2

#2 (408 yard par 4):

The 2nd is a narrow par 4 with out of bounds lurking! The longer hitters may want to consider less than driver just to find the skinny, tree-lined fairway. The hole goes slightly to the left so a draw is probably the best shot shape off the tee. A fairway bunker (~265 yards) is hidden from view. The front half the green slopes towards the fairway and should be receptive while the back half is flatter.

2-1

#3 (394 yard par 4):

The 3rd is another one of the many mid-length par 4’s at the Blue Heron course. It is a pretty good test if you ask me though! It plays a tiny bit downhill towards a creek. The ideal tee shot is a draw, but the fairway is wide and there is some room to the right if the draw isn’t your shot. It is a tee shot where you should be able to swing aggressively! The second shot plays into a green that is guarded by a bunker, a pond, and the creek. My picture doesn’t make it look too tough, but the long shadows obstruct the view of the pond short and right of the green. The best spot to miss the green is short and left because the creek is over the green. A pin on the left could be a green light!

3-1 3-2

#4 (535 yard par 5):

The 4th is the first of the four par 5’s and the #1 handicap. The distance isn’t overwhelming but there are hazards all over the place! There is lost ball trouble all down the left side and multiple ponds to worry about. The middle pond is going to be the biggest problem as it cuts into the fairway to affect drives and layups. It starts up just over that fairway bunker so the bigger hitters will need to stay left. If you don’t hit a good drive, or fan a layup, then it can come into play. The approach needs to have spin because the green slopes from right to left and front to back. There is some target golf to be played here!

4-1 4-2

#5 (390 yard par 4):

The 5th is the shortest of the par 4’s so far, but it played like the longest! The idea tee shot will land on top of the rise in the fairway for the best view of the green. It is a longer carry than it looks though and I didn’t get any roll as my drive landed into the upslope. Out of bounds can snag anything along the right side. The second shot, which could be blind, plays into a narrow green with a higher area that rings the back and right sides. Even a really good shot could end up funneling over towards the lower section. Chipping from short/right of the green isn’t a bad option.

5-1 5-2

#6 (190 yard par 3):

The 6th is ranked as one of the easier holes on the course, but the “easy” ranking on most par 3’s don’t make sense to me! This is a long par 3 that played tough because it is uphill (at least a club) and because of the elevation change I couldn’t see all of the green. The green is large and there is plenty of room short and left to play from. I wouldn’t mess with bunkers or the low side on the right.

6-1

#7 (410 yard par 4):

I found the 7th to be fairly boring. It is another mid-length par 4, out in the open and surrounded by homes. There is plenty of room to spray the ball, just try to avoid a couple fairway bunkers on the left. Depending on how far you fly it, the drive could land on an upslope and leave a blind second shot. It is also open up around the green. The green is wide has a valley in the center with higher portions on the left and right sides.

7-1

#8 (175 yard par 3):

The 8th is the shortest par 3 on Blue Heron and one that I enjoyed playing. The hole drops just enough from tee to green to block a clear view of it. That added some mystery! The green is larger than it looks and a greenside bunker lurks off to the right.

8-1

#9 (570 yard par 5):

I enjoy a long par 5 if the main challenge is the yardage and that’s what we have here! The hole doglegs right closer to the tee than to the green which puts an emphasis on an accurate drive. The dogleg is guarded by a bunker and some pine trees so make sure to favor the left side off the tee. I was left trying to hit a huge slice on my layup! If you can get the layup in proper position then that could set up a chance to score. Because the green is decent size it can accommodate longer third shots.

9-1 9-2 9-3

#10 (401 yard par 4):

If you ask me, the 10th looks like the 7th on the Blackheath course. It is a few yards shorter, but they both play feed a little left with the tee box in a chute of trees. A draw is probably the best play off the tee or you could run the risk of hitting those pines on the left. The fairway narrows the farther you hit it and there is a fairway bunker to the left. The approach is probably the most demanding shot as the green is wider at the front and narrows towards the back. It falls off on both sides so an accurate approach is needed, especially to get to a back flag!

10-1

#11 (385 yard par 4):

The 11th is a great hole! There are options on every shot and the pond to the right adds plenty of risk/reward. Because it is one of the shorter par 4’s on the course, you don’t need driver. You can still hit it, but the fairway starts to narrow once you get to the fairway bunker. The safest drive is to aim at the bunker and hit whatever club you know will stay short of it. The water can come into play off the tee if missing right. The green is narrow and anything right of it will end up in the water.

11-1 11-2

#12 (560 yard par 5):

The 12th is a long par 5, but it looks like the 560 yard tee box was overgrown. If the tees are always up then it could be reachable in two. The hole doglegs left so an aggressive drive challenging the left will cut off some yardage. If you drive it through the dogleg there are bunkers to grab the ball. After the drive the hole goes uphill and you will want to adjust club selection accordingly. I added a club from 100 yards and took a little off which left me pin high. When laying up, the fairway falls off into the right rough. Be careful if trying to land the layup on the left side of the fairway though as out of bounds creeps in! The green is wide and slopes from left to right.

12-1

#13 (405 yard par 4):

The 13th is my favorite on Blue Heron! It is a downhill, dogleg left par 4 that is ranked as the #2 handicap. The drive should be played towards the fairway bunker in the center of the picture before the second is over water to the green. The fairway is pretty wide short of the bunker so that would be place to play from, although it might mean a 3 wood off the tee. Do whatever you can to find the fairway because the water is a major problem when trying to get clean contact from the rough! The green isn’t very deep and there is another pond over the back. If you don’t think that you can hold the green on the approach, then the greenside bunker is a good miss!

13-1 13-2

#14 (195 yard par 3):

The 14th is a tough par 3, at least when it comes to getting a long club close. The sun is at a harsh angle so you cannot really see a bunker short and left of the green. That makes a draw the best shot shape, especially with some fairway/rough short and right of the green. There is another bunker over the green and the green funnels towards the center off both bunkers.

14-1 14-2

#15 (383 yard par 4):

The 15th could be a chance for a good score! Finding the fairway could be the toughest task and it was an awkward looking tee shot to me. Lost ball trouble runs down the left and the fairway slides ever so slightly to the right, meaning that I was aiming at the trouble. I ended up on the left side of the fairway and had to draw my approach around some overhanging trees. I didn’t hit the best drive, but I never like to “have” to shape a shot from the fairway. The green is bunkerless and slopes from back to front, so with a short club you may need to watch the spin.

15-1

#16 (528 yard par 5):

The 16th is the last par 5 on the course and an opportunity to get one back! It could be reachable, at least when it comes to the distance, because the last third of the hole goes to the right. The left side of the fairway will leave the most options because that is the best angle into the green. In order to get near the green in two you will need to slice one around the corner or take it along the tree line near the condos. Because of the angle and a bunker I don’t think there will be many eagle putts here unless you are a tour pro hitting something like 6 iron from 200+ yards! However, chipping the third shot from short and left of the green (from fairway) would still be a good play. If laying up then be aware that the hole starts to move right with ~125 yards to go.

16-1 16-3

#17 (192 yard par 3):

The 17th is another long par 3, but the tees were up when I played. I had a mid-iron which I didn’t mind at all because of the carry over the water. The water wraps around the green to the left so I’d try to avoid that side, especially as you get deeper into the green. The bunker on the left stops about halfway into the green, so you cannot rely on it to catch every loose shot in that direction.

17-1

#18 (398 yard par 4):

The 18th is a heavily wooded, dogleg left par 4! I found the center of the fairway and still had to draw my second shot around a pine on my way to the green. There is room short and right of the green which would be a good place to bail out. It uphill from tee to green and I’d definitely consider an extra club on the approach. As a fade player, I was very happy to have a birdie roll from the fringe!

18-1 18-2

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