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.