In the Williamsburg VA area the courses listed below are no more than a 20 minute drive. The best values are listed first with the most expensive last:
1. Kiln Creek is in Newport News, off I-64 at the VA 171 exit, just south of the Newport News Airport. It’s a resort with accommodations, a little tired and dated from the looks of it, but you don’t have to stay there to play the golf course. It was was designed by Tom Clark in the late 1980′s, routed through an established residential neighborhood with houses lining the holes, a good amount of water in play, and well bunkered.
2. The Colonial Golf Club CLOSED is located just north of Williamsburg, and was designed by Lester George and Robert Wrenn. Bentgrass greens, Bermuda everywhere else. Reasonably priced parkland style course. Mostly forgiving off the tee, wetlands cause a few forced carries and border some of the layout, doglegs throughout, nice large greens with light undulations and good speed, A couple of lakes along the fairways, and not much in the way of bunkers, just a fun course, in a quiet natural setting.
3. Newport News Golf Club is off I-64 at exit 250, Fort Eustis Blvd., then east to the golf course about a mile. There’s two 18 hole parkland style of layouts at Deer Run, both designed by Ed Ault in the 1960′s. The Deer Run is the stronger of the two courses, playing to over 7,200 yards from the tips with a 133 slope. The Cardinal is more forgiving at a 118 slope from the 6,600 yard tips. Both layouts are parkland style, routed through the trees with natural corridors, and no homes or development in play.
4. Club at Viniterra opened at the height of the recession, and was intended to be a high end private club and gated community. It hasn’t taken off and remains open for public play. It was designed by Rees Jones, and located 20 miles east of downtown Richmond in New Kent off I-64 at exit 211 . Upscale layout, although it’s not in pristine condition always, but generally the rates are very reasonable for the quality of the course. It was carved through the forest with good sized fairways and run-ups to most of the massive greens. Great variety of holes with some decent elevation change, wetlands and water, and plenty of sand.
5. Traditions at Kiskiack is off I-64 at exit 231 B, Croaker RD. Beautiful parkland style course with good elevation change, designed by John LaFoy, and is 6,775 yards, 72.5 course rating, and 134 slope from the championship tees, with three other sets of tees. A good challenging course for all levels of play, and reasonable greens fees. There’s water in play on a couple of holes, the front nine warms you up for a tougher backside, but overall very fair, and well conditioned course. Amazing course and setting when you consider it was once a trash dump and sand pit. No houses, just golf in a beautiful setting, and nice set of par threes, all unique.
6. Traditions at Stonehouse is just outside of Williamsburg, off I-64 at exit 227. Great golf course by Mike Strantz. Challenging, but fair off the tee, hilly with big greens, requires good tee shot placement for a shot at scoring. It plays to 6,962 yards, 140 slope, and 75.0 course rating from the tips. and opened in 1995. Steep and sloping fairways, tree lined, forced carries over ravines, well bunkered, it’s just a good solid challenge and interesting holes, nothing boring here. Well conditioned, some houses in play, but not real distracting.
7. Traditions at Royal New Kent is on the Richmond side of Williamsburg, about a 15 minute drive. It was designed by Mike Strantz after the links courses of Ireland, and it’s a great rendition, and much less costly than making the trip across the pond! There’s a lot of the same design elements as you’d find on a traditional links course, open and windy, rolling and rugged terrain, and fairways tumbling and bordered by fall fescue grass. There’s target rocks to provide direction to blind fairways, with deep pot bunkers that usually require a blast back out to the fairway. There’s blind shots to the greens hidden behind grassy knolls, stacked rock walls but the fairways are wide and forgiving, although there’s 120 bunkers scattered in the fairways at some odd intervals and right around the greens. The greens are huge and fast, but do promote the run up shot which is so useful in the British Isle’s links courses. Play the course from the right set of tees and you’ll enjoy the game much more.
8. Colonial Heritage Golf Club a quality layout at a reasonable rate, at least for the Williamsburg area. It’s on the north side of town, just west of Richmond Highway, off I-64 at Humelsine Parkway. The layout was designed by Arthur Hills, and is routed through an upscale residential community. It’s a parkland style of layout with tree lined fairways, a few holes with water, and a good amount of sand, playing to somewhat large and undulating and sloped greens, which are typically very quick. Tough layout from the tips, a 147 slope from 6,900 yards, the Silver tees at 6,000+ yards are still a good challenge at a 75.9 course rating and 136 slope.
9. The Club at Brickshire is located midway between Williamsburg and Richmond off I-64 at exit 214. It’s an Ault Clark/Curtis Strange design through a residential development that plays to 7,291 yards from the back tees. Good elevation change, parkland style course, usually in good shape, with a lot of variety in the holes. Mostly wide open off the tee, the main feature here are some replica holes from St. Andrews, Augusta National, Pinehurst #2, and Riviera CC.
10. Williamsburg National Golf Club is on the west side of Williamsburg, off Monticello, routed through a residential community, and two 18 hole championship courses, reasonably priced compared to some of the other high end courses in the area. They’ve challenging through the trees, well maintained, and good guest service. There’s were some unique holes, and some back and forth, overall a good experience.The Jamestown is a Nicklaus design of 7,000 yards, .Black 73.1/128. The York Town course also plays to 7,000 yards from the tips, and was designed by Tom Clark. There’s a 20% break in rates if you’re staying at particular hotels in the area, so if you plan to play here a couple of times, check with the golf shop to see which hotels are participating. If I were only playing one course here, it would be the Nicklaus course.
11. Golden Horseshoe Golf Club with two fantastic 18-hole courses as well as its nine-hole, they call it “executive course.” The Gold Course is the old classic stable here, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. It’s layout is over rolling hills, with tree lined fairways with water, and forced carries across ravines in play, tight course with a lot of elevation change, playing to large sculptured and contoured greens that are fast. The Green Course was designed by Rees Jones, and it is a more traditional resort course with open fairways and mounding, and is a lot easier on your game, on basically the same land as the Gold course.
12. Ford’s Colony is just off the 234 exit of I-64, then west on 199 to Rt 60/Centerville Road, a couple of miles. Three 18 hole championship golf courses here routed through a huge residential community of upscale homes, a Marriott and a timeshare development. There’s a 20% discount is you’re staying at the Marriott, but otherwise the rates aren’t too high for the area. The courses, Marsh Hawk, Black Heath, and Blue Heron are all somewhat similar in the layout, tree lined fairways, marsh, lake, and creek bordered, well bunkered and at different levels of challenge. The Blue Heron course is the shortest at 6,156 yards from the Gold tees, 70.2 course rating, and 127 slope, designed by Dan Maples and is the newest course here. Somewhat open off the tee, but routed through mostly wetlands and is the more strategic of the courses here. Marsh Hawk is a Maple design as well, and is 500 yards longer with a 132 slope, with tighter fairways off the tee, some elevation change, and well guarded greens. Blackheath has water on most of the holes a lot of doglegs, forced carries, tree lined fairways, and bunkers throughout, probably the last of the courses you should play if you’re staying here a few days.
13. Kingsmill, saving the best for last, Kingsmill is a golf resort and upscale residential community, south of Williamsburg on the James River. The River Course is twice as expensive as the Plantation and the Woods course, but it is the PGA Tour course venue, and designed by Pete Dye, a tough, challenging layout in a pristine setting, and always in great shape. The Plantation course is an Arnold Palmer design with some of the same elements as the River course, just not on the River, but water comes into play on at least half the holes. The Woods course was designed by Curtis Strange and Tom Clark and is a classic parkland style with tight tree lined fairways, and is the newest, and maybe the toughest of the three.