Golf at Williamsburg National
Opening in 1995, Williamsburg National brought Jack Nicklaus’ course design philosophies to Virginia’s Colonial Capital, ever increasing its attraction as a popular tourist destination, but also helping build its reputation as a top-notch golf destination.
At that time, Williamsburg already boasted several excellent golf courses, such as the Gold and Green courses at the Golden Horseshoe, 36 holes at Ford’s Colony and three excellent layouts at Kingsmill Resort. In subsequent years, Williamsburg area golf course construction sprouted new layouts like mushrooms in springtime–adding Kiskiack Golf Club, Stonehouse, Royal New Kent, the Colonial, Brickshire and another 18 holes at Ford’s Colony. Combined, these fine courses make Williamsburg the focal point of central Virginia golf.
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in July of 2007 the new Yorktown Course designed by Tom Clark opened at Williamsburg National . Both courses offer their own “great beauty” and “noble challenges” as today’s visitors enjoy golfing at the award-winning Williamsburg National Golf Club.Designed by renowned architect Tom Clark, the Yorktown is a 7,000 yard championship course. When asked to comment on the design, Tom Clark said, “it is a course of traditional design and with no gimmicks”. However two of the last three holes measure over 600 yards.
The Nicklaus name only adds to Williamsburg Nationals shining reputation, but it shouldn’t overshadow the golf course. Williamsburg National’s land once contained a sawmill, perhaps an allusion to the modern day stands of hardwoods and pines which compliment the golf course’s lush green Bermuda fairways. And though it should be noted that this year’s drought has definitely had an effect on the aesthetics, the playing surfaces are still in good condition.
The course has always been known for good playing conditions.it’s reputation around town is for having the best putting surfaces, and that’s something they work very hard to foster.
Another thing the course is known for is playability. Nearly 7,000 yards in length from the tips, its course rating of 73.1 and slope of 128 won’t frighten many great players into submission. Gossett elaborates: “Ours is a very straightforward, user-friendly golf course. There’s nothing blind or crazy about it, and it caters to just about every kind of golfer. We’ve got six holes with no bunkers, and the bunkers that are out there aren’t very deep. The putting surfaces aren’t severe, and the rough’s cut down.”
The tree lines are nicely setback from the fairways, and they’re cleared reasonably well to allow for recovery shots, in addition.
“You’re probably not going to get beat up out here, but you will find some challenging golf holes. We’ve got three real strong par fours (four, nine and eighteen) and a couple par threes that require good tee shots to leave you a chance at par. Our par fives are risk-reward in nature, and our fast greens will test you on every hole. Most people come back because of the playability, but there’re also enough tests of golf to keep you interested,” Gossett adds.
Forced carries are few on this layout, though there are some daunting views on the holes that demand a wetlands carry. Williamsburg National’s signature hole, #10, is such a test. Though it’s only 177 yards from the back tee, the wetlands guarding the first 160-odd yards makes it look a lot longer.
Two other par threes also have carries, though #8’s is only 138 yards over water. Sixteen is probably the club’s most challenging hole, a 202 yard par three over wetlands to a large, undulating green.
Another notable feature at Williamsburg National is the service. As is true at all of Williamsburg’s golf facilities, expect to be treated well. Gossett puts it this way: “We really try and stress service here at the club. We want every person who comes here to feel as though we’re their ‘private club for a day,’ regardless of whether you’re a tourist or a local member, or just somebody walking in off the street who didn’t know anything about us before. We want you to leave with the country club feeling and an enjoyable round of golf.”
Part of the “club” experience is the practice facility — it’s one of the area’s best. There’s a large grass tee, practice bunker, chipping green and large practice putting green. Everything you’ll need to fine-tune your golf game.
Perhaps best of all, the Williamsburg National experience is going to double in size. The club, in conjunction with the Greensprings residential development, was slated from the beginning to be a 36 hole facility, and Gossett says ground breaking for the second 18 holes will begin next spring. The second course will be another Nicklaus design, doubling the number of Virginia’s Nicklaus holes in one sitting (note: Bay Creek also has a Nicklaus course in its plans, and there’s a Nicklaus private course being built near Dulles Airport for the Golf Club of Virginia).
Looking at the highlights, the fourth hole is Williamsburg National’s #1 handicap hole, a 449 yard monster that doglegs slightly right from the tee. There’s plenty of room to drive it, but if you don’t get a big tee ball, you’re faced with a long-iron carry over wetlands to a green guarded by large bunkers to the front and right. There is some bail room to the left, but getting up and down will be tough from that side.
The aforementioned eighth hole is a nice par three. Though fairly short, it still requires a precise short iron shot to a shallow green. Anything short will likely roll down the steep embankment to the water, and if you take too much club you’ll face a downhill chip from the rough that could very well roll into the water.
The backside seems to play a bit tougher, as there are more wetlands to avoid and doglegs to navigate. Fifteen is an interesting short, dogleg left par four, 354 yards in length. A large tree dominates the left side of the fairway, so anyone trying to cut the leg will have to draw the ball around it or take their chances going right at it.
Eighteen’s a finishing hole that would challenge Nicklaus in his prime to make par. The hole stretches to 446 yards, and the second shot’s uphill to a left to right sloping green guarded by large bunkers left and right. Again, plenty of room off the tee, but the sloping fairway won’t guarantee a flat lie. Tough hole.
After finishing the golf, it’s a good idea to take further advantage of Williamsburg National’s excellent service at the Nicklaus Grill. There you’ll get a sense of the course architect’s considerable historical achievements in competitive golf — and you’ll also realize his legacy in course design is still very much alive, waiting just outside the door.
Williamsburg National Golf Club
3700 Centreville Road
Williamsburg, VA 23188
Phone: (757) 258-9642
Toll Free: (800) 859-9182
FAX: (757) 258-9738
Course Designers: Nicklaus Design Associates (Jim Lipe, Designer)
Head Golf Professional: Steve Beechcroft
Assistant Golf Professional: Chris Gossett