FX Excursions

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Virginia’s Potomac Shores Golf Club

by Francis X. Gallagher

Sep 1, 2016

As part of the annual Global Traveler/Trazee Travel employee conference, four of us journeyed to Northern Virginia the night before to prepare for battle with Potomac Shores Golf Club. Stonewall Jackson would have been proud of the planning that took place. Two of the team (myself and staff photographer and GT Advisory Board member “Yammi” Chris Ottaunick) completed a warm-up round in Philadelphia before marching south, another dodged cars on I-95 (Jeff Sohinki, GT ’s director of sales and marketing), and the fourth flew nearly 3,000 miles from California to Virginia (Rory Oldham, GT account manager). As they say, battles are won before they are ever fought!

The course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, occupies a beautiful waterfront setting overlooking the Potomac River. Potomac Shores is challenging and requires careful club selection; native hardwood trees and dense Virginia vegetation line many of the holes. Throughout the layout on the peninsula, the course weaves its way by wetlands, rolling hills and Powell’s Creek.

The course added a new clubhouse inspired by Georgian plantations of the past. The Tidewater Grill offers fine dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Our entire team, golfers and non-golfers, settled into the Tidewater for a specially prepared dinner of pan-seared crab cakes and 18-hour braised short ribs, finishing with a blackberry chocolate flan. It was a treat and a wonderful kick-off to our annual employee conference.

The course also includes a stellar practice facility, a favorite for locals. We spent a good 45 minutes warming up and preparing to take on Potomac Shores.

HOLE 2 | 405 yards, par 4
As you stand at the tee box, your first impression is of an absolutely stunning hole. Yammi and I attacked with drives landing dead center in the fairway and about 70 yards short of the deep ravine that cuts across the hole. An easy iron shot should have been the play, but both of us sent our ball off course slightly but safely over the ravine. Jeff and Rory struggled with lost balls left and one deep in the ravine to stay in Virginia forever. A chip and a putt allowed Yammi and me to card bogeys while the others felt it best to move on to the next hole.

HOLE 4 | 225 yards, par 3
This is a lovely hole with a high elevation in an alpine setting to the green below. I took aim and slammed a shot, landing on the left side to the cheers of the team. A two-putt scored a par for this challenging par 3. Two traps protect the right front of the green, and two more sit at the back to catch those who over-hit their target. Rory and Yammi came up short but with respectable chips and each carded a 4. Jeff found many woodland creatures he now considers friends.

Potomac Shores Golf Club


HOLE 7 | 435 yards, par 4
With this hole ranked as the most challenging hole on Potomac Shores, we did not show our best, with the lowest score a bogey. The challenge lies in the narrow fairway and landing area. Drives tend to bounce left and can end up in the native forest. Straight forward from an elevated tee, two fairway bunkers loom on the left side, which did me in. As you approach the second shot, the hole features a slight uphill which can cause perfectly hit irons to come up short. Two traps on the left side stand ready to catch you, eager for the “club under-selector.”

HOLE 10 | 575 yards, par 5
Hole 10 is ranked as the No. 2 handicapped hole on the course. Not only is it long, but you also have to drive to the top of the hill; then take your third shot down to the fairway, which turns a dogleg right; and finally land on a green protected by three trees in front — yes, in front! My tee shot unfortunately caught the trap on the far right, and getting back into play cost me a stroke. My third fairway wood took me over the trees but left of the green, avoiding the three trees Nicklaus planted. Rory put together a couple of good shots, landing on the green in four and making a miraculous one-putt for par. Jeff reached and exceeded his “mulligan” quota a few times; Titleist stock hit a record high that day on Hole 10.

HOLE 17 | 410 yards, par 4
Hole 17 must be included; it was so much fun watching the drives off the tee box. A retention pond, full of recent rainwater, lies to the right of the beginning of the fairway. It should not come into play, but some of us fixated on the water and the mental vibes took over: In Rory went. Jeff had a wild drive right which we never saw, and I took my drive left, nearly losing it in the thick brush. Yammi kept control, hitting his signature shot with a little drawl to be in position to attack the green but away from any of the fairway bunkers. Two bunkers flank both sides of the fairway, waiting to catch the wayward golfer. Yammi closed out the hole with a par, I with a bogey, and Jeff and Rory with a new-math formula double bogey.

HOLE 18 | 405 yards, par 4
Jack Nicklaus likes to place a fine finishing hole on his courses; and with the completion of the clubhouse, this hole makes you feel like you are coming home. Eighteen is set up as a dogleg right, so from the elevated tee box aim just right of the American flag which proudly flies at the clubhouse. Some of our team took a straighter approach, slamming their drives into the hill on the far side of the fairway and losing their shots in the high fescue. Yammi and I hit two of our better drives, putting us in a fantastic position to par and birdie the final hole. I had the par.


1750 Dunnington Place
Potomac Shores, VA 22026
tel 571 383 3050


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