I was considering a couple courses for my afternoon round but didn’t bother making a tee time because I had some options. Honey Run was on my way home and I had heard good things about the course. After some lunch I called them up. I was told that if I could get over there within a half hour then it was wide open. Apparently they blocked tee times after 1pm to allow for league play. That worked out for me as I wasn’t more than five miles from the course when I called.
Honey Run is a few miles west of downtown York, close to where the countryside meets the city. The course is set in a community that was built in the early 70’s and features two different nines. The front nine plays through the trees, circling a group of ~50 homes and isn’t anything to get excited about. Homes can be seen from most of the holes but they don’t really come into play as they are set back from the fairways and greens. My pictures of the front nine are a little deceiving as I intentionally tried to use angles to exclude the homes. The back nine offers a more secluded setting as it is out in the farmland and plays around two or three large homes. It is more open and on a higher part of the property, so the views are nicer. Overall, the course has a little bit of everything including a creek, a couple ponds, and some elevation change.
Ed Ault, the designer of Honey Run, has done plenty of other work in the Mid-Atlantic. I’m quite familiar with his name from Ault, Clark and Associates which is a design company that has handled numerous other projects in the area. Honey Run was designed before the existing firm was created, so the course appears to have been designed by Ault himself or with whomever he employed at the time. Apparently, Ed’s son Brian followed in his design footsteps and is a partner of the firm. I’ll have to pay more attention going forward!
I scanned the list of courses tied just to Ault’s name and Honey Run is my favorite of the 5+ that I’ve played! You should know by now that I love a course that allows me to find wayward shots! I wouldn’t let my pictures of the wooded holes on the front nine scare you, there is actually quite a bit of room to find the ball. You may just have to advance it 100 yards, but you should be able to scramble for a par or bogey after a wild one! Even on some of the more difficult tee shots (#3, #8, & #16) give you a bailout area to the right. If you can find a way to play from the fairways you could have a good day as the greens are large and don’t have much undulation. I over read most of my putts and finally made a few when I cut the amount of break that I read in half! There is a nice variety of straight holes and ones that dogleg left and right so the course isn’t one that favors a certain ball flight.
Unless you are a low handicap, I doubt that Honey Run will be “too easy” for you. The fairways are average size, but they slope off and numerous times I ended up in the rough, on the low side after a good drive. If you can work the ball against the slope to hold some of the fairways then that’s what I’d recommend! You are going to end up with some uneven lies here too. I thought the slope in the fairways was just enough to be a challenge without being too severe, except for the 18th fairway which climbs a hill to the green. Keep in mind this is from a single digit handicap perspective. There are lots of large bunkers at Honey Run, but as a whole they were flat and not very deep. For reference, I played the Blue tees which are 72.8/134/6797.
The front nine is pretty vanilla but it does have a few interesting holes. The 6th is a mid-length par 4 that doglegs left with a pond short of the green. The fairway is semi-blind and guarded by bunkers on the left. If you don’t hit the fairway then that water will be on your mind!
I also liked the 9th, which is a long, uphill par 3. The green is wide and deep so it is receptive to a long club, but I couldn’t figure out exactly the number that it was playing!
On the back nine you could randomly pick any hole and chances are, it is a good one! The 10th and the 17th were my favorites! The 10th, a 412 yard par 4, is the #3 handicap. It plays from an elevated tee down to a fairway that gets pinched by trees. I don’t know that the fairway itself narrows, but it will certainly help to be in the center! The approach is one of the prettiest on the course as the large green is framed by bunkers, a creek, and trees.
As the crow flies the 17th isn’t far from the 10th and I liked it because of its elevation drop down to the green and view of the creek. It was close to a full club downhill for me. It is 176 yards and the green is on the narrower side so an accurate mid-iron is needed. Pay close attention to the cart path and don’t go off the edge as you could easily dump the cart into the creek!
The maintenance at Honey Run was good and probably worth $50, at least here in Charlottesville. My only grip is that the tee boxes were sloped! Everything was full and lush which reminded me why I decided to golf in this area! The fairways were a tiny bit long but they didn’t affect the contact. The greens were receptive and a medium speed. I could be firm on the uphill putts but had to be aware when going downhill so I didn’t blast one past.
I’m glad I played here and would recommend Honey Run as a mid-tier course! I paid $30 and made it around in 3 hours 15 minutes, although I did play the back nine out of order. I zipped around most of the front nine, but while I was playing the 9th I heard two groups shouting at each other! Come to find out they were playing the 10th and the pace of play came to a halt while they figured out what they wanted to do. In all my years golfing I don’t recall ever hearing something like that!
#1 (406 yard par 4):
#2 (385 yard par 4):
#3 (579 yard par 5):
#4 (200 yard par 3):
#5 (550 yard par 5):
#6 (385 yard par 4):
#7 (398 yard par 4):
#8 (377 yard par 4):
#9 (187 yard par 3):
#10 (412 yard par 4):
#11 (371 yard par 4):
#12 (173 yard par 3):
#13 (573 yard par 5):
#14 (346 yard par 4):
#15 (496 yard par 5):
#16 (420 yard par 4):
#17 (176 yard par 3):
#18 (363 yard par 4):