Known as an ideal base of operations for visiting Colonial Williamsburg, the Williamsburg Inn has another reason for success-the adjacent Golden Horseshoe Golf Club, consisting of three distinct courses-Green, Gold and the very walkable nine-hole Spotswood. The Golden Horseshoe Gold and Green Courses are unique for being the first father-and-son-designed side-by-side
courses in the world.
Designed by prolific golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr., the Gold Course opened in 1963. Jones, whose lifetime achievement includes the design of more than 350 golf courses worldwide, cited the Gold Course as his finest design. The Green Course, designed by Rees Jones, Jones’ son, opened for play in 1991. It’s a longer, more forgiving course, typically described as representing more contemporary trends in golf course architecture. In 1997, the Gold Course underwent a complete renovation and restoration to ensure both courses remained in top condition for play.
Guests at the Williamsburg Inn are just steps away from these beautifully maintained courses. The more challenging of the two, the Gold Course features fairways that tend to slope away from the center, often causing the errant shot to fall toward the rough or, in the worst case scenario, out of bounds or forever lost.
A par 71, the course measures only 6,817 yards from the tips, but don’t let its length deceive you. With a 138 slope rating, and six holes that require you to carry water, it’s a course that requires strategic play. Both courses are heavily wooded and-maybe it’s just me-but it seems greens keepers get a kick out of positioning the pin on the most challenging portion of the green.
The Green Course can also present a challenge. Each fairway is lined with trees, requiring well-thought placement of every shot. Water comes into play on six holes, including the 18th toward the clubhouse, which means you’ll have to carry water off the tee in an uphill battle to the green. At 7,120 yards, the par 72 course is more forgiving than the Gold Course as its slope of 134 from the back tees lined with shoulder mounds helps keep less-than-perfect shots in play. To envision the differences in design between the two courses, think of a bowl. Most fairways on the Gold Course reflect the shape of an inverted bowl, while on the Green Course the opposite is true.
Some interesting historical tidbits to occupy your mind as you hunt for your ball.
o The Rockefeller Family, benefactors of Colonial Williamsburg and its environs, still maintains a home at the Basset Hall Plantation, site of the Green Course.
o John D. Rockefeller’s weathered boathouse can still be seen on the lake at hole number 18.
o The Gold Course, where Jack Nicklaus holds the course record of 67, is located at the site of the 18th century John Saunders house and plantation.
Stay and Play
Established in 1937, the Williamsburg Inn was completely restored and renovated in 2001. The
comprehensive project included reconfiguring the historic property’s existing 100 rooms to create 62 larger rooms and suites featuring lavish baths. Original furnishings and period reproductions complement the English Regency-style hotel that’s just a stone’s throw from the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club. Authentic features include hand-plastered ceilings and brush-painted trim and doors. The staff is polite and friendly. There are two outdoor swimming pools-one reserved for adults only. Other on-site recreational options include lawn bowling, croquet and a driving range. Be sure to make advance reservations for dinner in the Regency Room (jackets required).
Williamsburg Inn, 136 E. Francis St.
Williamsburg,VA, tel 757-229-1000, ext. 3089
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