New age in the Old Country: golf in Virginia
The history of the colonized United States does not date back further than Virginia and its early 17th century origins, yet this state of mountain ranges and vast swathes of untouched woodland is also home to some of the finest golf in modern America
Kingsmill Resort, Williamsburg
Just south of Colonial Williamsburg on the Virginia Peninsula, settled above the banks of the tranquil James River before it reaches Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic, the Kingsmill Resort is a holiday hideaway of rare vintage. It was here in 1607 where the earliest British colonists set foot on American soil for the very first time.
“In fact, you could say that the 17th hole of the River Course is the most historic 177 yards of golf in America,” starts Elizabeth Grimes, Vice President of Marketing at the Kingsmill Resort. “It is truly where the first settlers in the area landed in 1607, right there at the 17th hole. That is where the first settlement grew before Jamestown was established. On our resort you can still see the remnants of those first homes that were built around 1607. So this is the birthplace of America in many ways.”
The Kingsmill Resort is a beautiful family destination, much defined by 54 holes of golf, including the River Course—which will stage the Pure Silk Championship on the LPGA Tour in May—the Arnold Palmer-design Plantation Course and the members-only Woods Course. A spa, marina and 15 tennis courts ensure all visitors can find their preferred spot, active or not so much. Try the lazy river pool, book in advance for riverfront dining and choose between hotel accommodation and beautifully appointed condos.
New in the fall at Kingsmill, after a $3 million renovation, is its ultimate in exclusive accommodation, the Estate, a four-bedroom rental property like no other.
“It is a custom experience for our guests because the Estate is completely private, with a great location overlooking the James River,” explains Grimes. “Guests have a private chef and an Estate manager to take care of all their needs, whether that is organizing shopping, tee times and spa treatments or arranging excursions around Williamsburg, wine tours and trips to Busch Gardens.
“The Estate manager phones guests prior to their arrival to find out what they want to do while they are here and what they will need so it can be pre-arranged as much as possible. If guests would like enchiladas at 3am then that is what they will get! It is unlimited in that respect.”
And when we say the Estate has four bedrooms, that’s four master suites, each with stunning bathrooms and great attention to the small details throughout the property.
The Omni Homestead Resort, Hot Springs
Inland and hidden among the thickly forested peaks and valleys of the Allegheny Mountains, the Old Course at the Homestead resort is not only one of the oldest 18-hole golf courses in the United States, dating back to 1892, but in fact its famous first tee is thought to be the oldest first tee in continuous use in America. For a more contemporary and longer championship challenge, The Cascades is nearly 800 yards longer from the back tees, reaching 6,873 yards, and is regularly ranked among the finest public courses in the country.
Boar’s Head Resort, Charlottesville
Right in the heart of Virginia and in the Blue Ridge Mountains, just west from Charlottesville, the Boar’s Head Resort [pictured above] is an idyllic 573-acre woodland property where the new world meets the old with striking effect. Owned by the University of Virginia Foundation, Boar’s Head features miles of nature trails, a racquet and fitness club with 26 tennis courts, beautifully-appointed spa and the resort’s excellent Birdwood Golf Course, complete with frequent changes of elevation and far-reaching views.
Creighton Farms, Middleburg
At Creighton Farms it is hard to imagine that you are just 40 miles west from the heart of Washington DC, such is the sense of tranquillity in this scenic Piedmont region of northern Virginia. The crowning jewel of this residential estate is its Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course that opened in 2007. The caliber of this championship course has been endorsed by its selection to host the Senior PGA National champs and the Virginia State Amateur in recent years.
Visitors should stay at nearby, spacious Salamander Resort and Spa in historic Middleburg, which embraces the unspoilt nature all around with an equestrian centre, indoor and outdoor pools and even a forest zip-line course.
Colonial Williamsburg Resort, Williamsburg
For full submersion in America’s colonial origins, but without replicating the colonists’ authentic cabin accommodations, the Williamsburg Inn brings a generous dose of luxury and elegance to the Colonial Williamsburg Resort. Enjoy the grandeur of its Regency style guestrooms and contrast this with the finest contemporary dining in the Rockefeller Room.
The resort incorporates the exceptional Golden Horseshoe Golf Club, with 45 walkable woodland holes. The Gold Course has serious pedigree as it was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and renovated by his son Rees Jones in 2017. It is a timeless classic and shorter and a bit tighter than the Green Course, designed by Rees Jones and opened in 1991. The portfolio is completed by the beautiful par-31, nine-hole Spotswood Course, which was laid out by Trent Jones Sr. to update the original Williamsburg Inn nine holes from 1947.
Primland, Meadows of Dan
The Primland Resort in southern Virginia has been created with every effort to minimize the impact of this luxury resort on its natural surroundings. Guests can stay in the Lodge, in contemporary and beautifully-appointed Pinnacle and Fairway Cottages, or even in three of the most stunning Tree Houses you have ever seen, which genuinely need to be seen to be believed. Swiss Family Robinson would be spellbound. The highest of the one-bedroom getaways, Barn Owl Tree House, sits at an elevation of 2,700 feet and offers panoramic views across Roaring Creek Gorge and Pilot Mountain, North Carolina in the distance.
Primland’s Highland Course was designed by Donald Steel and takes golfers on a stunning journey through the resort’s remote woodlands. The serenity of the setting is guaranteed but the question is whether the golf shots can match it…