As the annual host of the Eastern Amateur Golf Championship since 1957, Elizabeth Manor Golf & Country Club's championship course has attracted some of the country's greatest players on their journey to the PGA Tour. As golfers traverse each hole from tee to green, they can imagine themselves tracing the footsteps of Ben Crenshaw and Curtis Strange, both of whom played in the Eastern Amateur before illustrious PGA careers, during which they won a combined four major victories without ever corking a driver. Today, the 6,642-yard, par-70 course still hugs the Elizabeth River, utilizing the natural landscape with a challenging layout originally envisioned by course designer Dick Wilson in 1948. The course also benefits from more recent refurbishments that made the greens and bermuda-grass fairways more resilient.
A private establishment, Elizabeth Manor Golf & Country Club complements its golf course with a six-court tennis complex and an Olympic-size, outdoor swimming pool. The club also boasts two restaurants with two patios, where guests can enjoy views of the Elizabeth River and attempt to count the leaves on every tree in the vicinity.
Running alongside the Chickamauga Battlefield and National Park, Battlefield Golf Club's scenic fairways meander through forests and ponds for a fun, relaxing day of driving. The third hole tests golfers with an early challenge, skirting a pond that consumes misaimed balls and provides a convenient spying spot for FBI-employed swamp things. Hole seven's sunken green amps up putting difficulty while the 14th hole delves into shady woodland. After rounds, a newly renovated clubhouse ensconces guests in postgame comfort, with lounges, a restaurant, and fully stocked pro shop. Guests are asked to wear golf attire when on the course, maintaining decorum and preventing awkward encounters between golfers dressed as golf carts.
Tight bermuda-grass fairways and encroaching water hazards coalesce for a scenic but challenging round at Bow Creek's lush, 18-hole, 5,917-yard course. The relatively short grassy monolith compensates for its diminutive stature with a layout that calls for pinpoint accuracy, as wayward spheres must negotiate their way past waters looming on 15 holes and squirrels stocking up on golf balls for winter. Players should resist the urge to get complacent after reaching any green in regulation, as sloping terrain and slick bent grass conspire to induce more three-putts than the most sinister of heckling flagsticks. Slow-starting swings may suffer, as the par 3 second hole demands a 178-yard tee shot into a daunting green guarded on the left, front, and back by a treacherous pond.
As cattails bob around the shores of glassy ponds, winds stir Virginia hardwoods and tall pines, under which deer can be seen prancing through knee-high grasses. These scenes play out every day at Hell's Point Golf Club, a Rees Jones?designed course set in the heart of the Back Bay Wildlife Refuge.
To the chagrin of slow-to-warm golfers and putters who stayed out late partying with pool cues, the second hole is the course's most difficult?a narrow, 462-yard par 4 that ends in a difficult-to-read, two-tiered green. Water hazards come into play on 10 subsequent holes, including two par 3s with a forced-carry tee shot and two par 4s with a cape-style dogleg that bends around a pond. Throughout the course, golfers must avoid Rees Jones's signature bunker complexes or be prepared to bribe the hazard with a novel sand-castle mold.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course designed by Rees Jones * Course rating of 73.3 from the farthest tees * Slope rating of 130 from the farthest tees * Four tee options
Designed by 1992 Masters Champion Fred Couples and his course-architect pal Gene Bates, the course at Heron Ridge Golf Club slaloms through acres of natural wetlands punctuated by towering oak, beech, and elm trees. Golfers confront water hazards of some form on 14 of the course?s 18 holes, most notably at No. 2 with its large lake that juts between the tee boxes and the fairway. Likewise, a hook-shaped water hazard on the par 3 15th hole punishes too-strong strokes from the elevated tee boxes onto its peninsula green. Players who manage to keep their golf balls on dry land face their own set of hardships, as the terrain?s frequent depressions and swells make flat lies and hovercart-landing sites scarce.
Course at a Glance:
Designed by course architect Pete Dye and PGA Tour Hall of Famer Curtis Strange, the course at Virginia Beach National Golf Club showcases 7,197 yards of bermuda-grass fairways and bentgrass greens. The course incorporates sandy waste areas to penalize errant shots and halt runaway carts, along with water hazards that come into play on 11 holes. Those hoping to hone their swings can schedule a lesson with PGA pros Russ Dodson and Butch Liebler, who oversee the course's pro shop and all-grass driving range.