Bowling Green Country Club: South Course (Front Royal, VA on 12/11/15)

A friend and I were looking to take a day trip to golf in Northern Virginia this weekend. The weekend weather was looking gorgeous when we were reviewing tee times earlier in the week! We attempted to use our VSGA cards at Laurel Hill, but they were all booked so we looked a little west and found that Bowling Green Country Club had plenty of times available. The facility has 36 holes so we attempted to play two courses late in the season! The nice thing is that we could minimize our travel time.

Our morning round was on the South Course and if you are directionally challenged like me then allow yourself some extra time to find the right spot. The course’s have separate clubhouses and I drove us over to the North Course’s clubhouse first. The clubhouses are only a couple minutes apart, but you could also get confused and end up at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club. That course is across the street but looks like it is on the same property! I’ve played a couple of the nines there and I’d consider that course on the same level as these.

There was a bit of a morning rush, as you’d probably expect on a warm December day, and we teed off shortly after 9:30am. Nothing about the round here felt like we were a couple weeks away from Christmas! It felt more like a cool summer morning than the middle of December. I probably could have worn shorts! The temperatures have been warmer than average and the course was showing it. All the grass was still green and since the holes are lined by pine trees, the backdrop was green as well! We waited quite a bit and it took us 4 hours 15 minutes to play. It felt even longer because the course is short and occupies a small plot of land. But, we made sure to enjoy the nice day!

As you can tell from the pictures, the course was looking good no matter the time of year. The conditions exceeded my exceptions for the price that I paid ($30) and I don’t have any complaints. I’d say the conditions were a step or two above a nice municipal course. The conditions didn’t affect any shots and the only thing that had some influence were tee boxes with minor slopes. The tees had some thin spots and some hairy spots so they were the worst part of the course in this respect. The fairways had plenty of grass, but some spots had a “squished” look because of heavy cart traffic. Most of the cart paths are around the tees and greens so it is a free for all driving in the other areas. The greens were on the slow side, but they rolled well and sped up once the dew dried.

The South Course is a shorter course, playing as a par 70 with two par 5’s and it isn’t even 6,000 yards (5,938 to be exact). It’s rating and slope are 68.3/119, respectively. As you’d probably expect, there are quite a few short par 4’s. It is a parkland layout with tees that are close to the greens which makes it a decent walking course. There aren’t any severe elevation changes, but there are a few hills that will have you catching your breath if you walk! The course features narrow fairways with lots of slope and small greens which are going to be the biggest challenge here. The fairways were tough to hold and when I found them, I struggled to control the height and shape of my short irons. If you know where the flat spots of the fairways are then I’d suggest shooting for those. Other than that, the course is very playable and you swing away with driver on many holes even though they are short. Besides out of bounds on the perimeter holes, the worst that can happen is having to punch out from the pine trees! The South Course is a place where you can make some birdies or pars depending on your handicap.

Bowling Green Country Club, and especially the South Course, struck me as a buddies course and a value course. It is playable and therefore would be a good course for those who don’t golf a lot. Plus, there are a couple nice views because of the proximity to the Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Neither course at Bowling Green is my first choice in the area, but as a pair they combined for a nice day! If you are looking for a memorable course locally then I’d suggest checking out Blue Ridge Shadows. That’s one of my favorites in the state!

#1: (381 yard par 4):

The 1st hole, at 381 yards, is actually one of the longer par 4’s on the course. The biggest problem could be the out of bounds to the left, but there is some room out to the right to miss. From the upsloping fairway the green‘s surface and a bunker short right cannot be seen. I’d try to favor the left side on the approach.

1-1 1-2

#2 (525 yard par 5):

The 2nd is the first of two par 5’s so make sure to take advantage of it! The landing area is blind, but I’d try to play the tee shot over those mounds off the left side of the fairway. That should have the ball landing on the left half of the left to right sloping fairway. Missing left is best because anything to the right could end up running into the pine trees. The layup is blind again and then it is  downhill to the green. I mis-judged the distance on my third which left a downhill chip from over the green that was tough to stop.

2-1 2-2

#3 (332 yard par 4):

The 3rd is one of many short par 4’s. It doglegs left and plays uphill. A draw is going to be best play off the tee in hopes of holding the fairway. I hit 3 wood and rolled though the dogleg, but that didn’t turn out too bad as I had clear view of the green.
3-1 3-2

#4 (176 yard par 3):

The 4th is a pretty, mid-length par 3. It plays about half a club downhill and doesn’t look too difficult. I’m not saying that it is difficult, but I missed right of the green in the greenside bunker which left me another short game shot where I needed to be precise. The front and left part of the green is in a depression compared with the rest and any shot from the right side will be speedy. To do over again I’d be more intentional about not missing to the right.

4-1

#5 (325 yard par 4):

The 5th starts a stretch of three short par 4’s where someone could get on a roll. The hole doglegs a little right and there are a couple options off the tee. I laid up but someone can try to get closer to the green if they’d like. The tee shot is semi-blind as the hole plays just enough downhill to affect someone’s sight-line. The green is narrower at the front, wider towards the back, and slopes from right to left.
5-1

#6 (317 yard par 4):

The 6th is ranked as one of the easiest holes on the course, and I’d agree. It is 317 yards but it plays uphill so I’m not sure how many golfers could drive it. I knew I couldn’t, but I still opted for driver anyway. I wanted to get as close to the green as possible, even if it meant having a severe uphill lie for my pitch. If someone wants to layup then I’d suggest trying to play to a valley in the fairway, which leaves a ~70 yard shot. The green is two-tiered which I couldn’t see until I got up there.

6-1

#7 (326 yard par 4):

The 7th could be driveable depending on where the tees are located! My suggestion would be to hit a club that leaves a flat stance. I hit driver and was able to get ~50 yards short of the green in a flat spot. The green is narrow and falls off on the left side so I’d err to the right.

7-1

#8 (174 yard par 3):

The 8th is similar to the 4th, except it plays the opposite direction. It is two yards shorter and likewise is about half a club downhill. The green is larger (compared to the others) and looks a bit like a cloverleaf.
8-1 8-2

#9 (333 yard par 4):

The front nine closes with a short par 4. The hole doglegs left and plays uphill about a club on the approach. There is some pressure to hit a good tee shot because the fairway is narrow and anything to the left can result in tree trouble. I tried to play my tee shot at the 100 yard marker. The approach is semi-blind and I’d try to leave an uphill putt on the back to front sloping green.

9-1 9-2

#10 (404 yard par 4):

The 10th is one of the only two par 4’s over 400 yards at the South course. The tee shot is elevated and depending on which tee box is used, can leave an intimidating view of the fairway with out of
bounds so close to the tee box. The fairway narrows and the out of bounds lurks to the left so it might be a tee shot to consider laying up, even though it is one of the longer holes. I missed the fairway a few yards left and had to chip one under the trees to get to the green.

10-1 10-2

#11 (295 yard par 4):

The 11th is the shortest par 4 on the course and it is a chance for a good score! It could be driveable for the bigger hitters, especially since it doglegs to the right. If laying up the fairway runs out and there are a couple trees to the right which could affect second shots. There is just some rough short of the green so even if you cannot get there it still might be worth it to hit driver and see if you draw a good lie.
11-1

#12 (341 yard par 4):

The 12th shouldn’t be much trouble off the tee, even though the landing area is blind. The most important thing is for someone to leave their favorite distance for a short iron. However, there could
be some problems on the approach if missing the green. The green is deep and falls off on multiple sides. I’d try not to miss it long or right as that could result in a bad bounce and a difficult, blind pitch shot.

12-1

#13 (160 yard par 3):

The 13th is my favorite hole on the South course! It is a scenic par 3 that play downhill a club. The edges of the green feed towards the center so if the distance is calculated correctly, the tee shot
could end up close!

13-1 13-2

#14 (343 yard par 4):

The 14th is one of the trickier holes on the course, at least if you ask me! It is uphill, but oddly it could play shorter than a par 4 of the same distance on flat ground. I’d try to fly the tee shot at
least 230 yards which should allow the ball to kick off a downslope in the fairway. If that happens then there is a valley in the fairway (~75 yards from the green) which is a good spot to play from. The fairway slopes from right to left too. I could only see the top of the flag from where my tee shot ended up. There is some room to find a ball if going left of the fairway, but I’d still suggest avoiding that side.

14-1 14-2

#15 (396 yard par 4):

The 15th is one of the longer par 4’s on the course and it is the #1 handicap. It doglegs left and requires that someone pick the proper line for whatever distance they hit their tee shot. This fairway
slopes from right to left too so I’d try to land the ball on the right side. From there it should be a hook stance into a bunkerless with trouble to the left. Don’t go left on the approach! I missed my tee shot way left and ended up in a section of rough that was well below fairway level. I had no trouble playing from there, but it almost looked like an area for water runoff.

15-1 15-2

#16 (450 yard par 4):

The 16th is the longest par 4 on the course! It plays from an elevated tee to a wider fairway so it isn’t as difficult as the yardage indicates. There is out of bounds to the left all the way up
to the green which I’d make sure to avoid. Right is definitely the better miss! The green is a decent size to receive even a longer club. Enjoy the view from the tee box!

16-1 16-3

#17 (189 yard par 3):

There isn’t too much unique about the 17th, which is a long par 3. There are a couple bunkers short of the green which is shaped best to receive a left to right shot.

17-1

#18 (471 yard par 5):

The 18th is a short, uphill par 5. I’m not the longest hitter and since I knocked it on in two, I’d say it is easily reachable! Most of the uphill climb will be on the approach so someone might consider an extra club. There is a just a mound of fairway short of the green so a low runner could chase onto the surface. The back half of the green is narrower than the front. This is a chance to end the day on a good note!

18-1

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