2002 Season Preview

By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Contributor

MANASSAS, VA - In the course of writing about mid-Atlantic golf over the past two years, I've often sought to look backwards-telling the stories of our numerous quality golf facilities, while also mixing in some of the region's rich history along the way. Rare is the time when there's been an opportunity to look forward-and here's such a chance!

In 2002, we at OldDominionGolf.com will bring another full season's worth of course reviews, PGA Tour coverage and feature articles, focusing once again on Virginia, but adding in a healthy dose of Maryland content to broaden our scope. We'll also likely make our first journeys into West Virginia to cover some of the excellent mountain golf found there. The purpose of this article is to present some ideas on places we'll visit and cover this season-but it's also an invitation for feedback. If there's a 'best kept secret' course or resort where we haven't visited (or isn't listed here), I invite you to send me a note at jeff@travelgolf.com, and we'll see what we can do to add it!

One thing I've noticed through touring much of the region is the incredible golf diversity it represents. Most folks, when they think of Virginia, probably envision stands of hardwood trees, Civil War battlefields, stately historic mansions such as Mount Vernon, rich farmland and glancing west, the Shenandoah Valley.

What's becoming obvious is that many golfers who would normally travel farther south to embark on a golf vacation are beginning to discover the incredible variety of this region. Let 'em stop here instead! As golf course architect Tom Fazio stated, "There are hundreds of golf courses just waiting to be carved out of the beautiful Virginia countryside." I couldn't agree more, and I hope to bring a lot more of the ones that are here to OldDominionGolf.com, beginning with the Colonial Golf Club in Williamsburg, which I hope to visit this weekend.

Several new courses are opening up this year, and I hope to get to most of 'em-or attend the grand openings of some that opened up last fall. First, I hope to revisit Independence Golf Club in Midlothian (at right) when it holds its Grand Opening sometime this spring or summer. The Tom Fazio course is open, yet the clubhouse is still under construction. Should make for quite an event. I also hope to return to Stonewall Golf Club on the shores of Lake Manassas-I believe their clubhouse just opened this month.

A few others we covered in 2000 will hopefully be returning to the 'featured' spot with enhanced editorial copy-such as Westfields Golf Club in Clifton, Bull Run Country Club in Haymarket, Raspberry Falls in Leesburg and Lansdowne Resort-also in Leesburg.

In the Williamsburg area, we'll check out The Colonial Golf Club and Williamsburg National, two more incredible layouts that make Williamsburg's golf product as high in quality as you'll find anywhere. We'll revisit Kingsmill when covering the 2002 Michelob Championship in October, and we'll also revisit Colonial Williamsburg's Golden Horseshoe Golf Club-a year should not go by without touching on the region's only Gold Medal resort (according to Golf Magazine).

Looking to the Virginia Beach area, we'll visit The Signature at West Neck, sister course to last year's 'Best New Course,' another Arnold Palmer design that's rumored to be every bit as high in quality as Bay Creek. Numerous others in the Hampton Roads area present tempting prospects, including Kiln Creek and Cahoon Plantation.

Moving to the Tidewater region, we'll visit The Tides Inn with its Golden Eagle Golf Course, a peaceful resort we meant to get to last year but ran out of time. We'll also look to get to a couple newcomers to the region, Queenfield Plantation and the King Carter Golf Club. King Carter may actually be moved to 2003's calendar, depending on whether it meets its opening date, set for late fall this year.

In the central part of Virginia we'll visit The Crossings, another classic Virginia layout with a Civil War theme, located near Richmond. Moving a little farther west, we'll take a look at the University of Virginia's Boar's Head Inn, home of Birdwood-consistently rated amongst Virginia's finest courses.

We'll also be visiting a couple golf schools this year. Last season we tried out the Golf Digest Schools at the Golden Horseshoe, and this season we'll visit Wintergreen's golf academy in April (where I'll also touch on Wintergreen's Stoney Creek Golf Club), and hopefully make it to The Homestead's Golf Advantage School later in the summer.

One area we largely didn't get to last year was Southwestern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley, and we hope to correct that this year with some trips in that direction.

Turning to Maryland, I previewed the brand new Renditions Golf Club in December, and we'll return in April to check out the finished product. In November we checked out Atlantic Golf's South River Golf Club, and this spring we'll visit two other Atlantic Golf courses-The River Course and Lakes Course at Queenstown. The Queenstown property is one of those historic gems from the pre-Colonial days, and will make for an interesting story in addition to offering some great golf!

In late May we'll cover the Kemper Open, set to take place once again on the wide-open spaces of the TPC Avenel.

Some more Marylanders that will likely find their way onto the front page of OldDominionGolf.com are Hollow Creek, a brand new Rick Jacobsen (of Augustine and Bull Run fame) layout in Frederick County, Musket Ridge in Myersville, Cross Creek Golf Club in Beltsville (Ault, Clark & Associates design), the brand new Golf Club at River Marsh on the eastern shore (at the Hyatt Regency Resort), and Upland Golf Course, not far from River Marsh.

Depending on time, we'll also journey to beautiful Western Maryland to take a look at the state's only Jack Nicklaus signature course at Rocky Gap Resort-two hours from Washington and Baltimore, but worlds away in feel.

West Virginia deserves a visit, and several outstanding courses beckon us from that direction. First is Cacapon State Park In Berkeley Springs, a Robert Trent Jones design that's widely believed to be the best course that no one knows about in the region. Since it's a state owned facility, it just might be one of the best bargains, too, though getting a tee time can sometimes be problematic-the locals must be keeping the secret well.

And no talk of West Virginia's complete without mentioning the Greenbrier, sister resort to the Homestead, just across the border in eastern West Virginia-and like the Homestead, boasts three outstanding golf courses to go along with unabashed luxury. The ultimate mountain experience.

This year, TravelGolf.com will be launching three more online publications in the northern mid-Atlantic, focusing on Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. I'll be making a few trips in that direction, so I'll squeeze in whatever I can with the time I have left near home!

This 'preview' was set-up largely through a destination's reputation, word-of-mouth, and courtesy of several different publications, namely the 2002 Virginia Golf Guide, the OldDominionGolf.com course guides, individual websites, and Washington Golf Monthly's 'Source Book.' I'll acknowledge that there're a great many courses I'm leaving off the 2002 schedule, so I welcome suggestions!

Here's to another great season at OldDominionGolf.com-see you on the links!

Jeffrey A. RendallJeffrey A. Rendall, Contributor

Jeffrey Rendall is an avid golfer and freelance writer. After passing the California Bar in 1994, he moved to Virginia to pursue his interests in history and politics, where he's worked since 1995.

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