Our afternoon round was on the other publicly accessible course at Kingsmill, the Plantation Course. We paid our $30 replay rate (what a steal!) and got round two started on one of the hottest days of the year. Because of the heat keeping folks away, we got out early and were never bothered by any other groups. Our first tee time was at 8am and I was home by 8pm. That included two rounds of golf, dinner, and the two hour drive back!
The Plantation Course is an Arnold Palmer design that gets overshadowed by the River Course. If you are looking to play one course on your trip to Williamsburg then the River Course would be a good choice. However, if you are thinking about becoming a member and golfing every day then the Plantation Course is the course where you’d likely play most of your golf! If I was a member here then I’d probably play six/seven rounds out of ten here on the Plantation Course. I haven’t played the The Woods Course so I’m just assuming that I’d play either the River or Plantation.
The Plantation Course is a player friendly design that seemed to breed confidence! I played the Gold tees which are 70.1/126/6254; that is as long as the course can stretch out. It offers the traditional setup of a par 72 with four par 5’s and four par 3’s, so it is short by today’s standards. I made two bogies early on while tinkering with my swing and found some game halfway through the front nine. I went on to post my best score of the year, even with a poor finish! Normally, Palmer designs allow even an average tee shot to end up in the fairway and that is the case here. The course allowed me to make corrections during the round which was a bonus. After playing the River Course earlier it was nice not to get kicked in the face when hitting approaches!
I’ll admit that I was feeling a little let down with the routing after playing the first four holes. The 1st hole is a weird, 255 yard par 4 that seemed crammed onto the property. However, I don’t think it was designed to be such a short par 4 from the back sets of tees. There is enough room to put some of the tees across a pond, closer to the 18th green on the River Course. But, I think tees back there must have interfered with play on that green and a cart path that runs nearby! The 2nd through the 4th weren’t much better as they are in an open area, with the nearby homes being an eye-sore. Although during the round we did see a few gigantic homes that looked like they belonged on their own plantation!
I’m happy to report that the layout got better as it went along! Starting on the 5th hole the course took on a low country feel, almost like something that you’d find in the Hilton Head area with overhanging trees and ponds. The homes were still behind the trees, but I could hardly see them. Not only did the course get more scenic, it became more interesting to play! Holes that dogleg and the trees that overhang the fairways meant that more thought was needed to get around the course. During this stretch of holes, the angles became the best feature of the course. The low country holes continued until the 15th before the course returned to topography that was similar to the opening holes. I’ll add that the 18th is another unexpected, short par 4! It runs parallel to the 1st and is squished into the same area of land. I think the 18th may have been recently re-routed for some new construction, but I’m not positive. My GPS showed that it went right, but the green sits off to the left. Plus, Palmer’s website shots that the course is ~200 yards longer than the scorecard that I’m looking at!
Palmer did a lot of things of well on the Plantation Course. One thing that I like to see in a course is the yardages varying. I’m happy to report that you may hit every club in the bag, even for a short course! The par 3’s play between 117 and 179 yards, the par 4’s are between 255 and 434 yards, and the par 5’s are between 460 and 566 yards. Another thing he did well was vary the sizes of the greens. There are a mix of larger and smaller greens and most of them are interesting to putt. They have ridges and humps and bumps, but I never thought they were unfair.
There are some holes to remember on the Plantation Course. The 9th is the 117 yard par 3 and it is tough! It has a forced carry over a hazard to a green that angles from front right to back left. Depending on where the tees are located, it could be a harder shot from a shorter yardage. I played away from the pin, even with a wedge! The 12th is a short par 5 that could be reached in two. A hazard cuts across short of the green so you’ll need to carry that if trying for an eagle. Even if you mis-hit it, the hazard still could be carried because it is ~20 yards short of the green.
The conditions on the Plantation Course were a step down from the River Course, but that wasn’t unexpected. It is always tough when a previous round sets the bar so high! The maintenance here was nice, but nothing flashy. The Plantation Course had a hint of a summer look to it with some areas starting to brown and the fairways were a cut higher than the River Course. My ball didn’t spring forward on these fairways like it did earlier in the day. The greens were slower too, a much more comfortable holing pace for me! My one quibble about the maintenance is that there were some sloped tee boxes!
Sometimes a golf resort doesn’t have a “best” coruse. But, Kingsmill does and that’s the River Course. I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed playing the Plantation Course as long as you know that you won’t be playing one of the top courses in the state. I typically like Arnold Palmer designs and this one is no exception!
#1 (255 yard par 4):
#2 (494 yard par 5):
#3 (378 yard par 4):
#4 (403 yard par 4):
#5 (179 yard par 3):
#6 (369 yard par 4):
#7 (336 yard par 4):
#8 (501 yard par 5):
#9 (117 yard par 3):
#10 (421 yard par 4):
#11 (434 yard par 4):
#12 (460 yard par 5):
#13 (387 yard par 4):
#14 (143 yard par 3):
#15 (566 yard par 5):
#16 (349 yard par 4):
#17 (177 yard par 3):
#18 (285 yard par 4):