Forty-eight avid golfers pick their favorite courses
In the mid-1990s, the golf industry was booming, and new courses seemed to pop up each spring just as the dogwoods bloomed. As the game’s popularity grew, so did the prevalence of golf course rankings.
Bill Hensley, a veteran public relations executive in North Carolina, grew weary of seeing national publications find a handful of folks to rank the state’s best courses — he didn’t think so few voters brought credibility to the process. So he started his own ratings group.
The North Carolina Golf Panel, founded in 1995, included about 35 “friends of Bill” who knew golf and had played extensively statewide. Four years later, when I moved back to my native North Carolina from Newport News, where I’d worked in the sports department at the Daily Press for nearly five years, I was asked to join.
Today, I’m in my 17th year of serving as the panel’s executive director, and while the golf industry may no longer be booming, our organization is. I’m proud that our annual North Carolina rankings are highly anticipated and valued, and that they help promote a game that our more than 180 members love dearly.
Last spring I was having lunch with a friend who’s played golf all over the world. We were talking about Virginia — we share a fondness for the commonwealth — and he said, “Virginia’s got some great, great courses. Why don’t you start a ratings group there?”
From that conversation grew what you see on these pages: the top 50 courses in Virginia as voted on by the 48 initial members of the Virginia Golf Ratings Panel. These are men and women — business executives, top amateurs, college coaches, media members, etc. — who, while their handicaps vary, share a passion for golf and an appreciation for course design. Each member also maintains his or her primary residence in Virginia.
Panelists were asked to consider a number of factors — variety in design, routing, strategy, fairness, shot values, memorability and aesthetics — in determining their individual rankings. Of course, they could vote only for courses they’ve played (and there are more than 300 courses in the commonwealth).
From their ballots, the top 50 were determined by a blended scoring system that, first, averaged a course’s ranking per number of panelists who had played it and, second, rewarded total points received (the higher the ranking the greater the number of total points).
Our ratings are far from an exact science, in process and results. The Virginia Golf Ratings Panel’s mission is to provide rankings that a broad spectrum of golfers can appreciate and to promote what we believe is a great game. If our findings stimulate conversation and stir debate, then we will have succeeded. Enjoy!
Kevin Brafford is executive director of the Virginia Golf Ratings Panel, virginiagolfratings.com.
The Virginia Golf Ratings Panel’s Top 50 Courses
|1||The Omni Homestead (Cascades)||Hot Springs||70||6,667|
|2||Kinloch Golf Club||Manakin-Sabot||72||7,203|
|3||The Virginian Golf Club||Bristol||72||7,025|
|4||Spring Creek Golf Club||Gordonsville||72||7,389|
|5||The Olde Farm||Bristol||70||7,119|
|6||Robert Trent Jones Golf Club||Gainesville||72||7,445|
|7||Farmington Country Club (North-South)||Charlottesville||70||6,766|
|8||The Highland Course at Primland||Meadows of Dan||72||7,053|
|9||The Country Club of Virginia (James River)||Richmond||72||7,025|
|10||Keswick Hall & Golf Club||Keswick||72||7,134|
|11||The Federal Club||Glen Allen||72||7,073|
|12||Ballyhack Golf Club||Roanoke||72||7,294|
|13||Trump National Golf Club (Championship)||Potomac Falls||72||7,693|
|14||Bay Creek Resort and Club (Palmer)||Cape Charles||72||7,250|
|15||Kingsmill Resort (River)||Williamsburg||71||6,831|
|16||The Club at Creighton Farms||Aldie||72||7,410|
|17||Golden Horseshoe Golf Club (Gold)||Williamsburg||71||6,817|
|18||Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech||Radford||72||7,685|
|19||Hermitage Country Club (Sabot)||Manakin-Sabot||72||7,048|
|20||Army Navy Country Club (Arlington)||Arlington||71||6,640|
|21||River Bend Golf & Country Club||Great Falls||71||6,917|
|22||Wintergreen Resort (Stoney Creek)||Nellysford||72||7,158|
|23||Two Rivers Country Club||Williamsburg||72||6,911|
|24||Independence Golf Club||Midlothian||72||7,135|
|25||Bay Creek Resort and Club (Nicklaus)||Cape Charles||72||7,417|
|26||The Foundry Golf Club||Powhatan||72||6,901|
|27||Bayville Golf Club||Virginia Beach||72||7,138|
|28||Hermitage Country Club (Manakin)||Manakin-Sabot||72||6,955|
|29||Birdwood Golf Course||Charlottesville||72||6,920|
|30||Boonsboro Country Club||Lynchburg||72||6,428|
|31||Army Navy Country Club (Fairfax)||Fairfax||72||6,644|
|32||Glenmore Country Club||Keswick||72||6,951|
|33||The Country Club of Virginia (Westhampton)||Richmond||70||6,214|
|34||Trump National Golf Club (Riverview)||Potomac Falls||72||7,234|
|35||Jefferson Lakeside Country Club||Richmond||71||6,272|
|36||The Dominion Club||Glen Allen||72||7,229|
|37||Golden Eagle Golf Club at the Tides Inn||Irvington||72||7,025|
|38||The Tradition Golf Club at Royal New Kent||Providence Forge||72||7,480|
|39||Mattaponi Springs Golf Club||Ruther Glen||72||6,937|
|40||Princess Anne Country Club||Virginia Beach||70||6,042|
|41||James River Country Club||Newport News||70||6,598|
|42||Roanoke Country Club||Roanoke||71||6,504|
|43||Belle Haven Country Club||Alexandria||72||6,965|
|44||Williamsburg National Golf Club (Jamestown)||Williamsburg||72||6,953|
|45||Poplar Grove Golf Club||Amherst||72||7,059|
|46||Wintergreen Resort (Devil's Knob)||Nellysford||70||6,712|
|47||Golden Horseshoe Golf Club (Green)||Williamsburg||72||7,120|
|48||Winchester Country Club||Winchester||70||6,367|
|49||The Omni Homestead (Old Course)||Hot Springs||72||6,099|
|50||Laurel Hill Golf Club||Lorton||71||7,010|