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Golfing and American History (Starting in Williamsburg)

Before majoring in English Literature I had considered American History as an alternative. Neither provides any practical knowledge that may be utilized in pursuing a “paid” career, but they are a heck of a lot easier than Engineering. Had the required history courses started later in the day, say after I woke up, than I may have stuck it out.

As I have gotten older, I am no longer capable of filling an entire day on the golf course. Thus, I now plan trips that offer alternative and interesting activities. It is amazing how many places of historical interest are situated near top rated golf courses. Further, my wife is a huge museum person, so we can spend some time together, which garners enough bonus points that I can continue to pursue my golf addiction.

We just returned from a 10 day trip starting in Williamsburg, Virginia and ending in Boston, with a two day stop in Gettysburg. I will not dwell on the great points of interest (this is a golf blog), but suffice it to say there were some great stops. Top 100 golf venues along the way included Kingsmill, Links at Lighthouse Sound, Bayside Resort, Bulle Rock and Lake of Isles. The latter two were part of my original journey as chronicled in Confessions of a Golfaholic. The book also critiqued Golden Horseshoe in Williamsburg, which was regrettably closed for renovation when I was in town. More on the other courses next week, but we begin in Williamsburg.

Kingsmill River Course is a Pete Dye design that has hosted numerous professional events as well as the Big Break on the Golf Channel. The development is situated along the James River, with plenty of water to attract the errant shot. For a Pete Dye design it is somewhat benign. The par 3’s are still challenging, but lack the intensity of Harbour Town. As with other Dye designs this one plays tricks on your eyes, but is more “gettable” than most. Typically for him, this is not a long layout, but requires precision. None of the holes got the heart pumping, but there were some nice ones. I rated 4, 8, 16 and 18 the best. All were par 4’s that required good drives and well placed approach shots.

My round was definitely enhanced by the threesome I joined. Kevin, Mike and Mark are psychologists who get together for an annual golf outing. Thirty six holes per day for three days of competition makes for a great reunion. This is really what golf is all about. Adding to their fun is the award given to the loser each year. Check out the photo below and see if you can figure out who lost the last competition. Hint, check out the tall guy. (It looks much worse up close and personal.)

What makes a Kingsmill vacation attractive is the setting. The river location amongst the trees is picturesque and, of course, there is the history. In addition, Kingsmill offers some great stay and play packages. You can also play the Arnold Palmer Plantation course. Golden Horseshoe Golf Club is within close proximity and should be in great shape upon re-opening in the spring of 2017.

As a bonus, while I hit the Kingsmill links, my wife was able to visit Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg. Great early U.S. History which I missed this time as I had a small window on this trip; especially with the predicted rain.

Absolutely Must Play? Probably not, but there are good golf options in the area, a very cool history and the price is extremely attractive. If you have already hit the other top spots, you might think about giving this one a try.

My Rating: 8 for the setting, excellent value and a variety of attractive golf holes.

Weekly Observation: I am still basking in the glory of predicting a “semi-rout” by the USA over the Europeans in last week’s Ryder Cup. You have to give a lot of credit to Patrick Reed. The final day turned on his epic battle with Rory, and the upset by Fowler over Rose. Further, Phil Michelson has now participated in the two best played head to head matches I can recall. The Ryder Cup against Sergio Garcia and the Henrik Stenson final pairing at the British Open this year.

Paul Laubach is completely unqualified to provide expertise with respect to golf course rankings and design, however, he is a highly opinionated golf addict who believes everyone should be entitled to his thoughts. He has recently released Confessions of a Golfaholic: A Guide to Playing America’s Top 100 Public Golf Courses; now available in hardcover edition. Please visit regularly for more (im)practical information.

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