Interspersed with rolling hills, meandering woods, and rippling water obstacles, each of these featured courses provides a challenging round for golfers of any skill level. Designed by renowned course architect and Jack Nicklaus-protégé David Heatwole, 1757's par 70 layout rewards crafty shots made on deceptively subtle greens and around towering brick barriers camouflaged to match the surrounding foliage. 1757's practice facility drills drivers with more than 100 hitting stations of grass and synthetic SportTurf tees, as well as a full short-game training area complete with facsimile fairways, bunkers, and greens. The Virginia Oaks course, considered one of Virginia's most difficult, was designed in 1995 by putting-placement legend P.B. Dye, challenging players with a narrow 18 holes rounded out by artfully placed obstacles. Home to a Nike Golf Learning Center, Reston National provides an accessible environment for players to learn and perfect their strokes away from the incessant creaking of rickety mini-golf windmills.
Komodo dragons, quicksand, and headhunter’s darts are just some of the dangers that lurk in the jungle depths of the Perils of the Lost Jungle miniature golf course at Woody’s Golf Range, whose innovative attractions caught the eye of The Washington Post and earned it a place in Newsweek Magazine’s recommended mini-golf courses in 2005. Harder hitting clubs hone their swings at the driving range. Golfers can spend their time there digging up divots in Patriot-Bermuda-grass hitting stations or sending balls whistling over AstroTurf mats. The range’s heated, lighted, and covered stalls let players practice year-round. Along with separate practice areas for pitching and chipping, a sand trap invites golfers to practice the best way to get out of a bad lie—by digging an escape tunnel. Guests can trade in their clubs for bats at four softball cages and five baseball cages, and themed picnic areas enable groups to turn their visit into a day-long extravaganza.
At Sterling Golf and Swim Club, golfers send balls sailing down the tree-lined fairways of an 18-hole, par 54 golf course, and swimmers backstroke across two 25-meter pools. For nearly half a century, club-wielders have traversed past water and dodged bunkers at the executive course, giving the pines and weeping willows ample time to flourish, and the nonprofit club itself has existed for four decades. Two kiddie pools flank the club’s two larger pools, enabling wee ones to practice breathing through their gills while their older siblings butterfly down lanes, and a game room provides indoor entertainment. An adult lounge lets weary golfers relax in peace, and the clubhouse’s pro shop outfits players searching for golf balls whose dimples perfectly match their own.
Each element of the sporting symphony emanates from its respective part of Dulles Golf Center & Sports Park: the pings of golf balls from the driving range, the smacks of the volleyball from the sand courts, and the line-drive cracks from the batting cages. The covered, lighted range?which Golf Range Magazine ranked as one of the Top 50 Standalone Golf Ranges in America in 2013?is home to PGA Director of Instruction Chuck Will and his golf academy. It's also big brother to a 18-hole miniature golf course decorated with the scaled-down versions of historic lighthouses, which lends the course a nautical charm and might help anyone find safe passage on a particularly foggy night.
Golf with friends is the best kind of bonding. There's nothing like being out in the open air, hearing the wind blow through the beautiful old trees lining the fairways, and refusing to grant your compadres a mulligan. The satisfaction of a well-played hole is amplified by the amusement you get from your partner's three-shot spectacle in the woodsy rough. Today's Groupon gets you and a friend 18 holes with cart at River Oaks Golf Course for $40 (up to a $88 value, depending on the day you go). Your Groupon is good for any time Monday through Friday and after noon on weekends.
Course designer Tom Clark of Ault, Clark, & Associates earned Pleasant Valley Golf Club a 4.5-star rating from Golf Digest, whose editors applauded the architect’s creativity in the site’s rolling hills and dense hardwood forest. Clark’s 18-hole brainchild allows players to tee up from one of four tee boxes and test their mettle against the par 72 course, taking care to avoid the water in play on six holes and the grassy meadows that lie outside the fairway borders. Players can bookend their round with a warm-up session on the range and a cooldown at the grill, helped along by a club sandwich, a Gatorade, or a glass of ice water dumped on an overused foot wedge.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 6,915 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 73.5 from the back tees * Course slope of 137 from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole * Scorecard