The Williamsburg, Va., area is as rich with history as anywhere in America. After all, Thomas Jefferson slept there – and George Washington accepted Great Britain’s surrender at Yorktown.
The area has some other famous names, too, such as Arnold Palmer, Robert Trent Jones, Sr., and Pete Dye, each golf revolutionaries in their own way.
The Williamsburg area, which includes Jamestown and Yorktown, is home to more than a dozen top-notch golf courses; has hosted PGA Tour and LPGA Tour events for decades; and is easily accessible by car from anywhere along the East Coast.
Here’s a closer look at the area’s golf resorts and courses:
This popular open-to-the-public private club features two very different courses when it comes to layouts.
- The Jamestown Course, developed by Nicklaus Design, measures close to 7,000 yards (par 72) from the championship tees, with a total of five different sets of tees. appealing to golfers of all skill levels.
- The Yorktown Course is amix of classic course design with a few modern twists. It has the area’s more interesting back nine, featuring three par-5s, three par-4s and three par-3s. With Bermuda fairways and bentgrass greens, the Yorktown course never disapppoints.
Just as Colonial Williamsburg brings America’s history to life, the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club honors the classic traditions of the game, while still creating and challenges for today’s players. Father and son Robert Trent Jones Sr., and Rees Jones, have designed 45 walkable holes over three courses, surrounded by mature woodlands.
- The Gold Course, is classic Trent Jones. There’s no better combination of par-3 holes than on the 50-plus year old Gold Course. Recently renovated by “the Open Doctor” Rees Jones, the Gold Course now features cutting-edge turf grasses, new grass on the fairways, greens and surrounding roughs, and utilizes “Better Billy Bunker” construction. Tees have been re-leveled and resurfaced, and the expansion of the practice putting green and range gives golfers plenty of opportunity to work on their long and short games.
- Opened in 1991, Rees Jones drew inspiration from Gold Course to create the Green Course. Carved from the same beautiful parkland terrain, the Green Course is longer – and a bit more rugged – than the Gold Course. It’s also more forgiving in spots, but hardly a pushover.
- Perfect for networking or a quick golf getaway, the Spotswood Course is Robert Trent Jones Sr.’s updated version of the original 1947 Williamsburg Inn course. One of the top short courses in the country, this par-31 course includes six par-3s, two par-4s and one par-5. Spotswood is family-friendly and fun for beginners and juniors, but still presents a signature Jones contest for the more experienced golfer.
Great golf is the centerpiece of the Kingsmill Resort experience. It has hosted 38 PGA and LPGA events with legends such as Payne Stewart, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer among those who have played the courses. Additionally, the Kingsmill Golf Academy is one of the best on the region.
- The River Course, speaking of legends, was designed Pete Dye and is home to the LPGA Pure Silk Tournament. This course also has hosted Presidents Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.
- Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay designed the Plantation Course to test the skills of all types of players with its generous fairways, water hazards, and undulating greens.
Designed by John LaFoy, Kiskiack Golf Club sits along a ridge of a natural bluff in Williamsburg. Kiskiack’s public course features tree-lined fairways, gorgeous water features, and is easily walkable. While the course can be demanding even for the experienced player, its open fairways and picturesque views will allow beginners to enjoy a round of golf as well. It’s the only golf course in Williamsburg with no houses on the course.
Located in Toano, Stonehouse Golf Club in Toano (7,013 yards, par 72) was originally designed by one of the most innovative golf course architects in the business, Mike Strantz, a former protégé of Tom Fazio. Strantz, who designed Royal New Kent in nearby Providence Forge, Va., envisioned a mountain-style course that disturbed nature as little as possible. With deep bunkers and wide fairways, layout features dramatic elevation changes and enormous putting greens perched on the edges of natural cliff formations with constant challenges for all levels. Williamsburg golf travelers looking for a unique golf experience will find it at Stonehouse.
Located just minutes away from historic Williamsburg, Ford’s Colony offers some of the best resort golf in Virginia. This semi-private golf club features 54 holes with three distinct championship golf courses designed by Dan Maples.
- Blackheath is the more picturesque of the three courses, with water coming into play on 13 holes. Every green on the course is guarded by bunkers. Blackheath also has many doglegs to go with its with rolling fairways. The Blackheath course is the only course at Ford’s Colony that plays to a par 71.
- Blue Heron is a continuous 18 that has long, challenging par-3s and par-5s. The Blue Heron has generous fairways carved out of dense wetlands and new Champion Bermuda greens. Blue Heron is the longest of the three courses and contains many different species of birds, fish, and other wildlife.
- Marsh Hawk features traditional tree-lined fairways. It has small, undulating greens with strategically placed bunkers. The narrow fairways, well-placed bunkers, natural lakes, and elevation changes are the defenses of this course. Marsh Hawk was the host of the 1998 and 1999 Virginia State Opens, a Monday Qualifier for the 2005 – 2007 Henrico County Open, and a Monday Qualifier for the PGA Tour’s Michelob Championship for 12 consecutive years.
Featuring the only Arthur Hills signature-designed golf course in Williamsburg, Colonial Heritage is open to the public and offers pristine playing conditions on an exceptional layout that winds through rolling hills, streams, and pine forests.
The layout is vintage Hills, which takes advantage of natural terrain of its southern Virginia surroundings. Thoughtfully planned bunkers, undulating fairways, and well-arranged water features create an enjoyable experience for players of all skill levels.
Feature Photo: Gold Course at Golden Horseshoe