Sunday was supposed to be a nice day and I was hoping to check out a new course! After a few text messages, a friend and I made last minute plans to play at Bryce Resort which has been on my list of places to play in Virginia. As the crow flies, the resort probably isn’t more than 50 miles from Charlottesville. However, there isn’t a great way to get there with two mountain ranges in the way. The drive took almost two hours although it felt a lot quicker as I enjoyed some twisting roads and the sunshine! I don’t want to paint the picture that the course is in the middle of nowhere though, it was just wasn’t convenient from where I live. If you are traveling along I-81 then it is only a scenic half hour detour to get to the course.
Bryce Resort labels itself as a four season resort in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. I was just there for the golf, but it looked like there were endless activities for the whole family! There are water sports during the summer and places to ski and snowboard during the winter. The place was full of life while we were there! People nearby were playing mini-golf, riding dirt bikes, and enjoying the pool.
Right away, what stood out about Bryce Resort to my friend and I were all the perfect “little” things! That list was virtually endless too! The tee markers had a glossy finish, the golf carts had a fresh coat of Armor All, and the cart bridges all were maintained. There were some nice little bird houses throughout the course and colorful flowers. It was clear that an incredible amount of attention was given to the appearance of the course! I’ve included a few pictures at the end of the post to show you what I mean.
I played from the Blue tees and it is only 6,260 yards. It plays as a par 71 with five par 3’s and four par 5’s. The rating and slope are 69.7 and 127, respectively so Bryce Resort is easier than the traditional Mid-Atlantic course. It plays on the shorter side because the course is in a small valley along with the clubhouse, ski lodge, and driving range. Bryce Resort isn’t your typical mountain golf course and you could even get away walking it! Oh, and there even is a small runway next to the course if you’d like to fly in for the day! Even with all of the attractions located in the small area, I never felt that the holes were too close to each other. The location of the course is one thing in its favor as the views are great!
Bryce Resort is an Ed Ault design and he is a name that I’ve become more familiar with recently! His courses don’t seem to be anything flashy and seem to be designed for the average golfer, which I like a lot. That’s the case here as you can take a swat with the driver on many holes and then go find it. I expected a short, tight course similar to the Mountain Greens Course at Massanutten. Instead, the fairways are on the wide side and the course has an open feel to it. It would help to work the ball both ways because trees encroach for a couple shots, but you can get away playing your own game for the most part. The 10th, 17th, and 18th are the narrowest holes on the course as they play in a group of trees. Make sure to be careful on those holes if you have a good round going! My only complaint about Ed Ault courses so far is that the bunkers are large, flat, and generally uninteresting.
I’m sure critics would say that the course is too easy, but I love a course where I can make some birdies. Actually, I didn’t make any birdies during my round, but I always thought that I could! The biggest challenge is going to be trying to putt the greens and boy did I struggle. The greens don’t have any extreme slopes or ridges, but there are going to be very few flat putts. I got fooled a couple times and didn’t realize that my putt was downhill! I noticed that many of the greens slope from back to front so keep that in mind if you are in-between clubs. Besides the greens, the other challenge might be a creek that meanders through the course. Unless you chunk one or try a risky shot after getting out of position it shouldn’t be much bother. To me, it was one of the best features of the course! It was running at a good clip after heavy rain earlier in the week and it was peaceful to hear the water while hitting golf shots!
I hope so far through this review that you’ve been able to gather that I was impressed with the course! The same held true for the conditions as I expected the whole course to be squishy because we got a bunch of rain last week. That wasn’t the case though and the course was in very nice shape, especially for the $30 green fee we got by using our VSGA cards. It was clear that the course drains well. Speaking of drainage, there is a concrete drainage ditch that cuts across the 9th hole in the driving area. I’d try not to hit the drive more than 230 or 240 yards unless you are a big hitter. The fairways were bit long, but nothing that running the mower couldn’t mix. The tees and fairways were full and the greens were smooth. All the tees were flat too, which continues with the “details” theme!
You won’t find Bryce Resort on any of the best in state listings and those who love golf course architecture probably will be disappointed at the end of the round. The course has a linear design without any real signature holes. I’m on the opposite side of the spectrum and Bryce Resort just goes to show why I like trying to play as many different courses as possible! I liked everything about the course and would consider it one of those “hidden gems”! I’d encourage you to check it out if you get the chance.
#1 (573 yard par 5):
#2 (373 yard par 4):
#3 (180 yard par 3):
#4 (316 yard par 4):
#5 (395 yard par 4):
#6 (511 yard par 5):
#7 (392 yard par 4):
#8 (180 yard par 3):
#9 (394 yard par 4):
#10 (354 yard par 4):
#11 (177 yard par 3):
#12 (310 yard par 4):
#13 (548 yard par 5):
#14 (371 yard par 4):
#15 (144 yard par 3):
#16 (529 yard par 5):
#17 (357 yard par 4):
#18 (156 yard par 3):
Here are some pictures of that attention to detail!