A STOP YOU WON’T SOON FORGET
First off you need to know that there are only 7 such treasures in North America. One of them Royal New Kent Golf Club is about 20 minutes east of Richmond. Very accessible, great value considering that it has received the highest honor a golf course can receive by being named to Golf Digest’s “100 Greatest Courses” list.
Odds are if you have been migrating from north to south along I-95 to some of the more well-known golf destinations in North and South Carolina, Georgia or Florida, you have passed Richmond many times without giving a thought to stopping for a round or making it your destination for that golf vacation. Read on, that might change.
Richmond, about 90 minutes south of Washington, about the same from Virginia Beach, and ½ of that to Colonial Williamsburg. Both, great additions to a golf visit to Richmond.
Styled after a couple of the most popular links courses in Ireland, Royal County Down and Ballybunion the Mike Strantz Signature Design, Royal New Kent brings a true taste of Ireland to America’s East Coast.
If you have played a Mike Strantz course before, you know that you either love his courses or hate them. Tobacco Road (Pinehurst area) and Tot Hill Farms, closer to Charlotte are two of the more accessible his Courses. Although Strantz worked under Tom Fazio for a number of years, his real passion was that of being an artist, earning the reputation as one of the most influential golf architects of the past 25 years. Even though he designed just seven courses individually, his career was cut short, losing his battle with cancer in 2005 at the age of 50.
It doesn’t take long for you to find some of the artistry in the Royal New Kent layout. The 2nd hole a 539-yard (white tees) par five, probably suggests hitting driver off the tee. That will force you to venture around the horseshoe shaped hole to get to the green. Hitting a 4 rescue off this tee and keeping it on the right side of the fairway might just be the ticket to the shortest line to getting home in two. If you dare!
Like other Strantz course’s this too is visually intimidating, wind swept and rugged. Fortunately, there is a lot more fairway out there than one can see. 2nd shots are crucial to a good round, as is avoiding the 105 large cavernous bunkers. I can’t stress enough, do not bite off more than you can chew, play the right tees. For the hero’s who want to play it longer, not even the directional “Beacons of Hope” will help you!
From hole to hole you will be in awe of what you can and can’t see in front of you. Straying to far off the fairway will make for a very long day. Royal New Kent has been recognized as one of the toughest courses in the nation, 76.8/154 course and slope rating from the Invictia tees (don’t go there)! Dare you! Royal New Kent Golf Club
Just a few of the accolades:
- No. 84 – America’s 100 Golf Courses (Golf Digest)
- Golf Advisor Golfers Choice #7 in Virginia for 2019
- 4 ½ Stars – Places to Play (Golf Digest)
- No. 3 – Best in State: Virginia (Golf Digest)
- No. 23 – Top 100 You can Play (Golf Magazine)
If you have about 20 minutes you might want to listen to a Golf Guys Podcast with Royal New Kent General Manager Tim McArthur. https://youtu.be/e9014WRrBfI
Just around the corner and across from the New Kent Winery is the Rees Jones designed, The Club at Viniterra which boasts a 4.5 out of 5 Golf Advisor rating. After playing New Kent one might appreciate that there are no blind shots here. Jones did magnificent job working with a natural setting. The course is laid out right in front of you. As an added touch and to remind you of that you are in Virginia wine country, as you make your way down the first fairway a small orchard setting awaits, capturing stray balls hit way to far right. You should not go there!
Also, recognized by Golf Advisor, winning the category, “Best Conditions in the State” the rolling tree lined fairways provide generous landing areas providing that you avoid the large and inviting white sand bunkers. Greens are large and fair, but also protected by strategically placed bunkers. I personally enjoyed the variety on the par 3’s and I am sure that you will too!
Saving the best for last, you won’t forget the double dogleg par 5, a bit of a monster that stretches back to 573 yards, was featured in the January 2022 issue of Virginia Golf Magazine: “Great Holes” section.
There are at least 5 wineries in the vicinity of these 2 courses. If you are wino, you will enjoy the varieties that they provide. OR, you may want to head back to Richmond and get into some wine, beer, fine food or pub food……..perhaps with a sunset along the riverfront???
The river that runs through it, is the James River, many things to do with the river including white-water rafting through the downtown area, class III and IV rapids for those who dare! Personally, my time along the river was spent at The Boathouse at Rocketts Landing downtown Richmond slurping oysters with white wine chasers and yes, the sun was setting! A seafood lovers paradise in a vibrant downtown setting.
Spend some time in Richmond and you will find it as a foodie’s paradise. Food is an art here! In fact, National Geographic put them on their list of the worlds “top 10 places to travel for food.” An eclectic culture has popped up through the cobblestones. Murals cover the walls of local restaurants and shops, while major art museums draw national attention.
Cuisine in Richmond is yours to discover. We of course, found the Capital Ale House for some pints and good old pub food. A short walk from The Commonwealth our home while in Richmond. A beautiful arts-focused boutique hotel right in downtown, across from the Capitol building, which makes for a great atmosphere! The hotel has murals on each floor done by a local muralist and each guest room door is hand-painted. Very Cool. The Commonwealth in Richmond
On our moving day we had the opportunity to play a unique 12-hole Davis Love redesign, Belmont. Known originally as Hermitage Country Club, Belmont was designed in 1917 by renowned Golden Age golf architect A.W. Tillinghast. A decade later, equally revered architect Donald Ross made his own design contributions to the course. Belmont played host to both the 1945 Richmond Invitational, won by Ben Hogan, and the 1949 PGA Championship, won by Virginian Sam Snead. Renovated and restored by Love Golf Design, Belmont remains the only course in Virginia that has hosted a major championship and one of only two Tillinghast courses nationwide that has hosted a major and is still open for public play — the other is Bethpage Black. Belmont Golf Course
On our next visit to Richmond, Magnolia Green Golf Club and Independence Golf Club will be on the list and who knows with a little help from some friends, we might get a chance to play The Country Club of Virginia, home of the PGA TOUR Champions Tournament, Dominion Energy Classic.
So next time you are traveling and get to Richmond – STOP THE CAR!!!!!
For More information on the Richmond area Visit Richmond VA