Bowling Green Country Club: North Course (Front Royal, VA on 12/12/15)

Because the first round took longer than we expected, we weren’t sure that we’d finish our afternoon round on the North Course when we teed off at 2pm. I was a little disappointed as we teed off because the North Course is supposed to be the more interesting of the two courses at Bowling Green. The proshop only charged us $9 for the afternoon replay, so it wouldn’t have been a huge loss if we didn’t finish, but we decided to hustle and see how far we’d get. Because I was hurrying, I may have overlooked a few things on my review!

The North Course is on the other side of the property which is slightly flatter. It is another good course to walk, if you aren’t trying to play speed golf! The North course is still a parkland layout, but it has the more interesting routing and design features. There are multiple ponds connected by a creek that snakes its way across the course. The creek crisscrosses probably half of the holes and could come into play on a stray shot. It wasn’t much of a bother when we were there because it was dry. There seemed to be a couple more doglegs and angles to negotiate here compared to the South Course. All this encouraged me to try to shape shots and make decisions instead of just swinging away like I did on the South Course. There is some charm and character to the North Course because it has that classic country club feel.

Like the South Course, the North Course is on the shorter side. It is a par 71 with three par 5’s and from the Blue tees (our choice) it is 70.4/129/6364. Besides the added challenge of the hazards the North Course also will test your game with narrow, sloping fairways and small greens. If you get paired with a local I’d try to find out the best spot in the fairway to aim for. It is a course where you will need to pay attention during the round! There are some risk/reward holes, a green surrounded by water, and some great par 4’s with choices off the tee. The par 4’s range from 329 to 430 yards so you can mix up the approach clubs. The course looks tight from the pictures, but if you get offline you should be able to punch it back to the fairway! Overall, it is a player friendly design.

The maintenance was fine here at the North Course too. Not pristine, but certainly acceptable for a value course in the off-season. The tees were probably the worst part of the maintenance as they were inconsistent. Some were thin and muddy while others weren’t cut down. The fairways were playable, although they were on the thin side and damp. In spots, that made it tough to cleanly contact the ball. The greens were the highlight here as they were smooth and quick! They instilled confidence as I didn’t have to worry about being firm or a putt bumping offline.

I don’t normally post about the service at a course, but I think the great service that we received needs to be recognized. Since our morning round took longer than we thought, we were a half hour late for our tee time. The proshop understood and pushed our time back and explained upfront that the cart needed to be returned by 4:30pm. We could walk as late as we wanted so we returned the cart and walked the final few holes. We squeaked in all 36 holes! As I mentioned in my review of the South Course, neither course at Bowling Green is going to be a destination course but both are a good value and won’t beat you up.

#1 (337 yard par 4):

The 1st is a pretty good hole to warm up on. It has a couple design features to challenge someone, but its short yardage and an elevated tee mean that driver isn’t necessary. The hole moves left and is cut into a hillside. The fairway slopes from right to left so landing the ball on the right half should mean a kick down to the left side. A creek to the left runs the length of the hole. The green is small and slopes from right to left too.

1-1

#2 (355 yard par 4):

The 2nd is a pretty easy hole, even with a small forced carry off the tee. It is ranked as the #17 handicap because it is short and open. Any number of clubs can be hit off the tee on this dogleg right and I was rewarded with a short birdie putt after hitting driver. The only trouble for a terrible shot will be the creek left and out of bounds right. Like the 1st, the green is small.

2-1 2-2

#3 (392 yard par 4):

After an easy hole on the last, the 3rd is all business! It is one of the longer par 4’s on the course, the #3 handicap, and could cause some problems because of the tight tee shot. The narrow fairway has out of bounds to the right and trees to the left which can impede second shots to the green. The best tee shot will actually challenge the out of bounds and end up on the right half of the fairway for the best angle to the green. If someone can hit a good drive then they shouldn’t have too many problems with the rest of the hole.

3-1

#4 (167 yard par 3):

The 4th is what I would consider one of the signature holes at the North course. It is a mid-length par 3 that has an island green. The left side of the green falls off towards the water, but it is plenty big to receive a mid-iron. The drop area is actually on the island so someone shouldn’t lose a lot of balls. Unfortunately, my pictures didn’t turn turn out great because of the sun but I found it fun to play while being fair at the same time! When walking off the green, make sure not to tee off on the 16th, which looks like the next hole!

4-1 4-2

#5 (550 yard par 5):

The 5th is a long par 5 that should be a chance for a good score. There is plenty of real estate to swing away, just be mindful of the creek on all your shots. It is off to the right for tee shots, then it cuts across the fairway to affect the layup, and then ends up left of the green. The tees were up when we played and I actually chased a 3 wood onto the green leaving an eagle putt. Even if I couldn’t have reached in two, I think this is one of those par 5’s where leaving a shorter pitch into the green could be a good play.

5-1 5-2

#6 (430 yard par 4):

The 6th is the longest par 4, and the hardest hole, on the course! It doglegs right and again, the creek could be in play on the tee shot and the approach. The creek is to the left of the fairway and then cuts across short of the elevated green, which means that someone will need to fly the approach onto the green. The green falls off on multiple sides and I was very happy with my par here! Missing the fairway to the right won’t be ideal either, because there are a couple rock outcroppings over there.

6-1 6-2

#7 (351 yard par 4):

The 7th is a short par 4 that could be a birdie opportunity! Most golfers are going to want to leave their favorite wedge yardage for the approach so it could be a layup off the slightly elevated tee. The hole splits the road to the left and the creek to the right. The green is flatter which means even a long putt could drop!

7-1

#8 (163 yard par 3):

The 8th is the shortest par 3 on the course and one where I’d suggest playing some defense. There is a pond short and left of the green which could get plenty of action, especially with a steep bank that can yield some hard bounces. The preference is a draw that starts out at the right side of the green. If it doesn’t turn over that’s just fine!

8-1 8-2

#9 (498 yard par 5):

The 9th is my favorite hole at either of the courses, at least strategically! It is the shortest of the three par 5’s at the North course and offers plenty of options. The hole goes right on the tee shot, but because of some left to right slope, you should be able to get away with playing it down the left side. The landing area is blind, but there isn’t any lost ball trouble. After a good drive, it can be reached in two. However, that means carrying a large pond and avoiding the creek which is left of the green. It was an intimidating carry over the pond from where I ended up, but come to find out there has to be at least 30 yards of grass over the water. If laying up, be mindful of the pond though as the fairway gets tiny to the left of it. You might be better off leaving a longer club for the third.

9-1 9-2

#10 (407 yard par 4):

The 10th is one of the longer par 4’s, and tougher holes, on the course. As you can see from the picture, the left side of the hole is protected by pine trees and there is some space to the right. Therefore, a draw is the best play off the tee. I’d try to land the ball on the right half of the fairway because it slopes to the left. I ended just off the fairway in the left rough and had to try for a high shot to get over some trees. For what its worth, it seems the fairway slopes harder left as you get closer to the green so you might consider laying up. The green itself slopes from back to front.

10-1

#11 (369 yard par 4):

The 11th is a mid-length par 4 that could give faders a fit! I know I was scared teeing off! The hole runs parallel to the 10th (off to the right) so the slope is going from left to right. I had to start it out at the tree line on the left and try to let my natural shot shape bring it back in play. I got a lucky bounce, but anything to the left is probably going to end up as a lost ball. The right side is the best place to miss as you should be able to at least find the ball. From the fairway it could be tough to catch it cleanly because of the ball being below your feet.

11-1 11-2

#12 (179 yard par 3):

The 12th is another good par 3 on the North course! It plays about a club downhill to a green that angles best to receive a draw. The green has a small back tier that made it tough to get to the flag. Try not to go long or left as there is a road just over the green.

 

12-1

#13 (384 yard par 4):

The 13th is another mid-length par 4 and a classic old school design! The hole moves a little left and features a skinny fairway that slopes to the right. You have to challenge the left rough in order to keep it in the fairway. The green complex is guarded by a tree on the left, which is actually the best side to miss because some slope can kick shots to the right. The green itself slopes from back to front.

13-1 13-2

#14 (365 yard par 4):

I thought that the 14th was one of the toughest holes on the course! I was thinking birdie off the tee, but by the time I got onto the green all I wanted was to move onto the next hole! The green is straight ahead, but most drives will collect in a valley in the fairway (around 125 yards to go) leaving a blind approach from short distance. The green slopes severely from left to right so you probably want the ball to land a bit left of the flag.

14-1 14-3

#15 (329 yard par 4):

The 15th is ranked as the easiest hole on the course, but you may need some knowledge in order to make it play that way. The tee shot is similar to the last because of the significant undulation in the fairway. If you don’t carry the ball far enough on the drive then you face an uphill lie. I laid up off the tee to ~100 yards and was on the other side of that hill on a downslope. There wasn’t much room for error with a wedge from that lie! If you can get the distance right on the approach then the ball could collect close to pins on the right half of the green. The left side is slightly higher.

15-1

#16 (534 yard par 5):

The 16th is the last of the par 5’s and probably a three shot hole for most because it plays uphill. On the drive, the creek that affects play on much of the course is off to the left. It is a wide open tee shot, but the layup is played to an area where trees pinch the fairway. There is some left to right slope that will bounce layups to the right so favor the left side of the fairway. The green is bunkerless and deeper than it looks from the fairway.

16-1 16-2

#17 (204 yard par 3):

The 17th is the longest par 3 on the course and a worthy adversary. It is going to have to be a precise long iron or hybrid to find the putting surface. The green is small and sits slightly above fairway level. Plus, there is a sand bunker on the right and a grass bunker on the left. I played a pitch from short of the green and thought that a high lob was my best bet to get it close!

17-1

#18 (350 yard par 4):

The 18th is my type of closing hole! It is one of the easier ranked holes on the course and it plays downhill. The biggest challenge is going to be finding the fairway because of a blind landing area. The hole moves left so I’d say the best line off the tee is just right of where the cart path disappears over the hill (depending on how far you hit it). You can layup or hit driver, whatever is most comfortable. There is out of bounds to the right so if you go that way consider a provisional. The other challenge is going to be the creek which cuts across short of the green. It should only be in play on a very poor shot though. The green is large and slopes from back to front.

18-1

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