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.
First sculpted into Virginia's rolling terrain in 1952, Suffolk Golf Course remains true to the original vision of course architect Dick Wilson. Though not an especially lengthy course, it plays longer due to the elevation changes, tree-lined fairways, and dog-legs that can complicate play throughout the layout. Once golfers reach the green, they face a slick, newly-renovated, Bermuda grass putting surface that?after overseeding in early 2014?provides a particularly true roll. The back nine winds around Lake Kilby, which provides sweeping vistas while threatening to ensnare any wayward shots. A bald eagle is known to dwell around the 12th hole, so golfers should wear their most patriotic wig on the course as a gesture of respect.
When fitting clubs, the skilled staff at Golf Etc follows a seven-step process led by customer interview to analyze shots and swings and determine optimal shaft weight and launch angle. In creating a custom fit and build, the shop aims to cut shot dispersion in half and boost overall distance.
Famed course architect Tom Doak may be the mastermind behind Riverfront Golf Club's 18-hole layout, but Mother Nature should be credited with an assist. Tom took full advantage of the existing topography when shaping each meticulously crafted fairway and green, sculpting a layout that utilizes natural features, including tidal marshes, knee-high native grasses, and ancient pines, oaks, and sycamores. The Nansemond and James Rivers come into play on 14 holes, forcing golfers to face the omnipresent threat of a lost ball and an extra stroke or a ship full of club-stealing pirates. Though the landscape showcases a daunting supply of treacherous hazards, the course offers relatively wide fairways, offering large landing zones for tee shots and aerial caddies flying in mid-round to help read putts on large, undulating greens.
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: