Golf: Tee up for challenging greens and scenic views
by Renss Greene
Golfers from almost everywhere visit Rivah Country to play, and no wonder—the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula are home to some of the most beautiful golf courses anywhere. Rolling countryside, richly fertile grounds, and scenic waterways make golf courses around here something to be envied.
We decided to tour the open-to-the-public courses in Rivah Country and find out what they’re all about. Each course has its own personality and quirks, and all of them are great places to tee off. Fore!
The Golden Eagle can accomodate any skill level, with five sets of tees laid out over 18 spacious holes around the 50-acre Lake Irvington. The challenging signature fifth hole, known locally as “The Beast,” tees off over the lake before a dog leg to follow the banks of the water.
Easiest hole on the course? Probably hole 2, a relatively straight, short, and level par 5.
The course, designed by George Cobb, opened in 1976, and is headed by Don Nelson, an experienced golf pro. Nelson, a PGA member, has been in the professional golf business since 1989 and was head pro at two previous courses before moving to the Golden Eagle two years ago. Rich Ford, another golf pro, joined the Golden Eagle in 2006 and has been a pro since 1997.
Call Golden Eagle Golf Club at 804-438-4460 or visit TidesInn.com/Golden-Eagle-Golf for rates and tee times.
Hobbs Hole, nearly walking distance from downtown Tappahannock, features relatively straight (but bunkered) courses tucked between water hazards and quiet neighborhoods, with plenty of long drives (and views) around the course. Hole 2 is a scorecard favorite, a short par 3 which has been aced more than 70 times. Hole 7 is the signature hole—and there’s no way around the water hazard bisecting this hole except to go over. Hole 8 is particularly tough, a long par 4 with a green guarded by bunkers on the left and a wraparound water hazard demanding powerful but controlled drivers and woods.
The sign outside the clubhouse proudly declares that Hobbs Hole opened on May 25, 1996. It was designed by Jeffrey Timmons, and is now watched over by golf pro Troy Thorne. Thorne lives and breathes Hobbs Hole; he started there straight out of college in 1999.
Call Hobbs Hole at 804-443-4500 or visit HobbsHole.com for rates and tee times.
The Piankatank River Golf Club lives up to the name. The back nine holes are especially scenic, including a short par-3 hole 14, which rewards the player with a spectacular view of the Piankatank River from a hole ending on the banks of the river (but not so close that you’re likely to overshoot and land in the river). Water hazards abound, although the most difficult play can be found at the 18th green. The particularly sloping green of this straight par 4 frustrates a controlled landing.
Two golf pros master the course at Piankatank River Golf Club: Ben Griebel, formerly of Fords Colony, and John Abbott, formerly of the Golden Eagle. The course opened in 1996 and held a 17th-anniversary tournament July 14.
Call Piankatank River Golf Club at 804-776-6516 or visit PiankatankRiverGolfClub.com for rates and tee times.
Quinton Oaks, which advertises itself as a player-friendly course, is laid out over wide open, gently rolling farmland. A relatively level front 9 give way to an undulating back 9. Hole 16 is the signature hole, a par 5 with a water hazard dividing the fairway just before the green. Hole 17 provides a breather after that marathon, a short, straight par 3. There are no fairway bunkers and shallow greenside bunkers, and the player-friendly design lends itself to a very quick 18.
Dean Sumner, recently away in Paris trying to qualify for the Senior British Open, is the course’s designer and owner, as well as manager, superintendent and golf pro. His daughter Kelly, attending UNC-Pembroke on a golf scholarship, watches the pro shop when he’s not around.
Call Quinton Oaks at 804-529-5367 or visit QuintonOaks.com for rates and tee times.
King Carter is the newest among the golf courses in Rivah country. Striped rough, rolling hills, and deep bunkers make for a scenic and challenging 18. Hole 7 has had the most holes-in-one despite the two-tiered green. Hole 16 is also a favorite, a driveable par 4 great for stretching out your swing. Hole 4, by contrast, demands a controlled drive, with a bunker before the green. Beware of the deceptively plain-looking hole 17, too—although it’s a short par 3, the tee box and green are both elevated with a fairway that rises and falls. “It’s a green that kind of run away from you,” says King Carter pro J.D. Wilson.
Wilson has been a pro since starting at Wintergreen in 1996. He came to King Carter in May 2006. The course was designed by Joel Weiman and has been open since 2005.
Call King Carter Golf Club at 804-435-7842 or visit KingCarterGolfClub.com for tee times and rates.