Most visitors who come to Williamsburg are aware of its historical roots. But to discover another side of the city, spend some time on the links. The Greater Williamsburg area is fast becoming known as a top golf destination, boasting more than a dozen championship courses. Here’s a look at some of the best places for a round.
There’s more to Colonial Williamsburg than its portrayal of a city on the verge of revolution. Around the corner from the historic area is the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club. Designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones Sr., the Gold Course is one of the best examples of traditional golf course architecture in the world. Designed by Rees Jones, the Green Course is carved from the same terrain as the Gold Course and is more typical of contemporary trends in golf course architecture. The executive-length Spotswood course is the elder Jones’ 1964 update of the Williamsburg Inn’s original 1947 nine-hole course. The Golden Horseshoe is a certified Audubon Sanctuary unencumbered by surrounding real estate. Golf getaway packages are available year-round.
Championship golf is the centerpiece of the Kingsmill Resort experience. Pick between two renowned courses, The River or The Plantation (a third is private and members-only). The River Course, designed by prominent architect Pete Dye, has hosted numerous PGA events over the years and is the current home of the annual LPGA Kingsmill Championship. The course is bordered by the James River, including the signature par-3 17th hole that’s perched right on the water. Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay designed the Plantation Course to test the skills of all types of players, with its generous fairways, water hazards and undulating greens. The Kingsmill Golf Academy offers expert advice and lessons to help you with your game.
Making its way through rolling hills, streams and pine forests, the Arthur Hills-designed course at this public Williamsburg golf club provides championship golf in pristine conditions. Warm up at the practice facility, which features a sprawling driving range outfitted with natural-grass tee boxes, as well as an arched chipping green if your short game needs work. Once you choose which of the five sets of tees matches your experience level, set off to enjoy 175 acres of the natural beauty and terrain in this part of Virginia. After sinking the last putt, the clubhouse’s Heritage Restaurant will be waiting so you can grab a bite from the menu of American classics.
Don’t let the picturesque setting along the ridge of a natural bluff fool you: This course has its fair share of tricky holes, particularly on the back nine. Though you might be able to relax a bit during the first half of the round, you’ll find challenges once you make the turn. Course architect John LaFoy has created a layout where each shot warrants careful consideration. The par-3 11th hole taunts players with a green well protected by water on three sides, in addition to several bunkers. At the final hole, you can either hit your drive over a lake for a chance at eagle, or play things safe by sticking to the right side.
Just outside of Williamsburg in neighboring Toano, Stonehouse is characterized by dramatic elevation changes — think tumbling hills, sudden ravines and greens hanging on cliffs. Highlights include making a judgment call as you approach the contoured green of hole 6, navigating a small water hazard in the process, and the blind tee shot on 18. The club is part of a larger portfolio of courses across the country, including five others in Virginia.
Three courses offer up distinctly different experiences, depending on the challenges and highlights you’re looking for. Blackheath is scenic and marked by lots of water and bunker-guarded greens; Blue Heron is the longest and takes you through dense wetlands that are home to many wildlife species; and Marsh Hawk has narrow yet traditional tree-lined fairways. The championship trio has been praised by all the major publications for the sport, making it a must-visit for traveling golfers. The semi-private club also has a well-stocked pro shop, golf academy and excellent dining on site.
Williamsburg National Golf Club honors two of the area’s historic sites with the Jack Nicklaus-designed Jamestown Course and more recently added Yorktown Course.
For help putting together an itinerary, enlist the experts at Williamsburg Golf Vacations. They’ll build a custom package that matches you with the best accommodations and where to make a tee time.