Games requiring hitting a ball with a stick date back thousands of years to ancient times. One of those games, golf, has maintained its popularity in modern time from its origins in the 1400s in Britain and Scotland. In 2015, golf is alive and popular in the Shenandoah Valley and is being honored with National Golf Month.
Public courses offer a wide variety of options to take advantage of the beautiful setting in the rolling hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Massanutten Range. The area has become a golfing destination as hotels and clubs team up with special packages. Stay and play packages afford the golfer accommodations at local hotels and tee times at courses with visitors coming from other states and Canada. Check out where to stay from luxury to cabins.
Nestled in the valley, the courses contain levels of difficulty to match any level of golfer. Specials and promotions are part of the golfing season which runs from early spring to late fall with a few weeks of winter sometimes cooperating with golfing weather.
Every course has its challenges with elevations, types of greens, water features, and a little sand thrown in. It is a matter of what the golfer is seeking and how ambitious he or she would like to be. Courses can range from 18 to 36 holes in length. Time frame generally runs from 4 to 4 and a half hours for 18 holes. Amount of exercise is a personal choice with walking and carrying clubs from hole to hole the maximum exertion.
Golfing can be a solitary game or enjoyed with friends as a social outing with males and females together or separate. Lessons and equipment will add to the cost but special rates apply for course use as far as day, time, or package deals. Playing 18 holes can range from $30 to $60. Some public clubs will also provide deals where memberships are optional.
All ages can take part in this sport aimed at families and friends. The younger the better is the philosophy as a sport that can last a lifetime, literally, or it is never too late to start. So check out the public courses from the top of the valley to the neighbors to the south in Harrisonburg. And don’t get discouraged when winter comes; there are golf shows to attend to whet the appetite for the popular sport.
Cacapon Resort State Park
From the top of the valley in the neighboring state of West Virginia, Cacapon Resort State Park has a challenging course at 2,300 feet, designed by golf course designer Robert Trent Jones Sr. It makes prime use of the rolling foothills at the base of the ridge. Rated as one of the 130 best-designed courses in the United States, the Cacapon course features 73 well-placed sand bunkers. There are three ponds on the course which come into play on four holes. The course has several other water hazards in the form of small streams coming from the mountain side. The course is known for a double green that is over 100 yards wide. Golfers can take advantage of the lodge and cabins for overnight stays with special deals for the 18-hole course.
Rock Harbor Golf Club
In Winchester since 2003, Rock Harbor Golf Club offers 36 uniquely designed golf holes with six sets of tees on each hole for the challenge of all levels of player. Nine pin placements on each green practically guarantee never playing the same hole, the same way, twice. It contains two courses with its own set of challenges. The Rock Course, the older sibling, starts off at a leisurely pace and having made the turn, greets you with the golf experience than can only be found here. The Boulder Course is sure to be the most talked about golf round. Both courses offer strategically placed bunkers, boulders and lakes. Package deals with local hotels including the Courtyard by Marriott are offered for any length of overnight visits.
Going farther south, Bryce Resort‘s 18-hole championship golf course is one of the Shenandoah Valley’s premier destinations for golf. It offers stunning mountain views, tree lined fairways, and a creek which winds its way back and forth across the links. The golf course, designed by Ed Ault, is a 6,260 yard, par 71, course and open to the public. With several tree-lined holes and fairway bunkers, the course is an excellent test of a player’s ability to keep the ball in play. The layout features 48 strategically placed bunkers, and Stony Creek comes into play on 12 of 18 holes. Weather permitting, the facility is open year-round. The resort in Shenandoah County is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club
In the shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah Valley, Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club Resort has been recently named one of the best scenic courses in the Commonwealth by the state website, Virgina.org. The Tom Clark designed 18 hole championship golf course meanders through hardwood forests, split fairways, double greens, elevation changes, and a waterfall near Front Royal. The hole layout begins atop a small knoll with panoramic views and ends with a risk reward par 4 fronted by Crooked Run Creek and framed by a 60-foot waterfall just behind the 18th green. The resort offers stay-and-play golf packages at the Holiday Inn & Suites located on the golf course.
Bowling Green Country Club
Nestled in the northern neck of the Shenandoah Valley, against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains and landscape dotted by historic 19th century farmhouses, lies picturesque Bowling Green Country Club. For more than 30 years, the courses have matured amidst the beautiful foliage, scenic vistas, and allure of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The 36-hole options offer a golfer-friendly design with rolling terrain, manicured conditions, and smooth bent grass putting surfaces. A variety of packages are available at the club near Front Royal.
Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Three sets of nine holes make up Shenandoah Valley Golf Club — the Red Nine, the White Nine, and the Blue Nine. Each set boasts a different, unique personality. Distances, slope, par and course rating vary with a combination to suit all levels of golfers. Golf Digest recently named the club one of the 10 best places for a round of Virginia golf. It is located at the base of the Blue Ridge and Massanutten Mountains. The original course design was the work of famed course architect Raymond Loving and uses the full breadth of topography on the grounds near Front Royal.
Heritage Oaks Golf Course
The Heritage Oaks Golf Course is a municipal golf course in Harrisonburg designed by William R. Love. Built in 2001, the course has 18 holes nestled in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The Par 70 layout is a challenge for golfers of all abilities and ages. It is owned by the City of Harrisonburg and presents a diverse styling of its 18 holes of golf, including links-style holes as well as traditional, tree-lined holes. It offers four sets of tees on each hole with overall distances ranging from 4542 yards to 6324 yards. Virginia Living Magazine, in its May 2015 issue named the course, Best of Virginia. Also in May 2015 the readers of the Daily News Record named it the Best of the Valley.
Lakeview Golf Club
Lakeview Golf Club in Harrisonburg is a unique 36-hole facility with four nine holes built by four different architects at four different times. The Spring Nine, circa 1987, has a winding spring-fed creek and several doglegs that requires a golfer’s ball to be shaped a certain way. The Peak Nine, circa 1976, has more tree-lined fairways and thus requires more precision off the tee. The Lake Nine, circa 1967, incorporates more water for the golfer to contend making a premium on tee shot placement and approach shot management. The Mountain Nine, circa 2001, is the baby of all the nine hole courses but is a combination of all the other nine hole courses courses’ characteristics.
Thanks to Frances Lowe, guest blogger for Go Blue Ridge Travel.