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.
Sleepy Hole Golf Course challenges golfers in an emerald labyrinth defined by tree-lined fairways, wispy aquatic grasses, and views of the mile-wide Nansemond River. Golfers can start off by loosening up drivers on the range and giving short irons a pep talk in the chipping and putting practice areas. After teeing off, players wind through a verdant course inhabited by doglegs, troublesome bunkers, and water hazards that come into play on five holes. The 18th hole tests golfers' mettle with difficult shot selections throughout, as tee shots land in view of the river and prompt players to either lay up for a safe approach or send shots sailing over marshy fescues onto a green sandwiched between a bunker, a drop-off into water, and a patch of carnivorous plants that subsist on divot tools and plaid knickers.
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.
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.
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.