Cascades holds the high ground
Omni Homestead course remains No. 1 for the third year
For the third consecutive year, the Virginia Golf Ratings Panel’s rankings of the commonwealth’s top 50 golf courses is topped by the venerable Cascades course at The Omni Homestead in Hot Springs.
The William Flynn design, which debuted in 1923, has withstood every test of time, including the myriad advances in technology in the past two decades. As the legendary pro golfer Sam Snead said of the course that flows seamlessly through the Allegheny Mountains, “If you can play the Cascades, you can play anywhere.”
While the Cascades remained No. 1, there’s a new No. 2 — The Olde Farm in Bristol, which jumped two spots from the 2018 rankings. Designed by Bobby Weed, it opened for play in 2000. Also moving up in the top 10 is The Highland Course at Primland, which improved from 10th to eighth.
The only addition to this year’s rankings is the Danville Golf Club, a Donald Ross design that opened in 1916 and has hosted the Virginia State Open five times. It debuted at No. 49.
The mission of the Virginia Golf Ratings Panel is to provide rankings that a broad spectrum of golfers can appreciate and to promote what we believe is a great game. The panel currently includes 46 men and women who, while their playing ability varies, share a passion for the game and an appreciation for course design. Each also maintains his or her primary residence in Virginia.
In voting for the top 50 courses, 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 only vote for courses they’ve played (and there are more than 300 courses in the commonwealth).
From their ballots, the top 50 was 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).
Kevin Brafford is executive director of the Virginia Golf Ratings Panel, virginiagolfratings.com.
Top 5 golf courses in Virginia for 2019
1. The Omni Homestead (Cascades)
Previous year’s rank: 1
Location: Hot Springs
Championship tee yardage: 6,667
Few courses have withstood the test of time better than this William Flynn design. Both fun and challenging, no two holes seem alike. More to that point, its unique set of four finishing holes — two par 3s and two par 5s — shows that the architect wasn’t bound by conventional wisdom.
2. The Olde Farm
Previous year’s rank: 4
Championship tee yardage: 7,119
Members and guests cross cattle guards as they come through the club’s gates, an ode to what was once a working farm. Bobby Weed, a Pete Dye protégé, designed the course, which opened in 2000, to flow through the rolling hills rather than up and over them, preserving its walkability.
3. Kinloch Golf Club
Previous year’s rank: 2
Championship tee yardage: 7,203
Named by no less than Golf Digest as the “Best New Private Club in America” when it debuted in 2001, this parkland-style layout has gotten better with age. Two of the biggest names in Virginia golf — Lester George and Vinny Giles — were the brains behind this masterpiece.
4. The Virginian Golf Club
Previous year’s rank: 3
Championship tee yardage: 7,025
That two of the top five courses reside in a tucked away part of the commonwealth speaks in part to the topography. Said designer Tom Fazio when this club opened in 1993: “In some locations, blessed by Mother Nature, there was little issue figuring out where to place the holes.”
5. Farmington Country Club (North-South)
Previous year’s rank: 5
Championship tee yardage: 6,766
This 27-hole, traditional country club had its first 18 holes — the North and South nines — designed by Fred Findlay in 1927. Thirty-eight years later, fittingly, the final nine holes were developed by his grandson, Buddy Loving. The club’s practice facilities are considered second to none.
Top 50 golf courses in Virginia for 2019
|Ranking||2018 ranking||Name||Location||Par||Championship tee yardage|
|1||1||The Omni Homestead (Cascades)||Hot Springs||70||6,667|
|2||4||The Olde Farm||Bristol||70||7,119|
|3||2||Kinloch Golf Club||Manakin-Sabot||72||7,203|
|4||3||The Virginian Golf Club||Bristol||72||7,025|
|5||5||Farmington Country Club (North-South)||Charlottesville||70||6,766|
|6||6||Keswick Hall & Golf Club||Keswick||72||7,134|
|7||7||Robert Trent Jones Golf Club||Gainesville||72||7,445|
|8||10||The Highland Course at Primland||Meadows of Dan||72||7,053|
|9||8||The Country Club of Virginia (James River)||Richmond||72||7,025|
|10||9||Spring Creek Golf Club||Gordonsville||72||7,389|
|11||11||The Federal Club||Glen Allen||72||7,073|
|12||14||Ballyhack Golf Club||Roanoke||72||7,294|
|13||12||Trump National Golf Club (Championship)||Potomac Falls||72||7,693|
|14||15||The Club at Creighton Farms||Aldie||72||7,410|
|15||13||Bay Creek Resort and Club (Palmer)||Cape Charles||72||7,250|
|16||16||Kingsmill Resort (River)||Williamsburg||71||6,831|
|17||17||Golden Horseshoe Golf Club (Gold)||Williamsburg||71||6,817|
|18||19||Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech||Radford||72||7,685|
|19||23||Independence Golf Club||Midlothian||72||7,135|
|20||18||Hermitage Country Club (Sabot)||Manakin-Sabot||72||7,048|
|21||20||Two Rivers Country Club||Williamsburg||72||6,911|
|22||21||Army Navy Country Club (Arlington)||Arlington||71||6,640|
|23||22||River Bend Golf & Country Club||Great Falls||71||6,917|
|24||24||Wintergreen Resort (Stoney Creek)||Nellysford||72||7,158|
|25||26||Bayville Golf Club||Virginia Beach||72||7,138|
|26||25||Bay Creek Resort and Club (Nicklaus)||Cape Charles||72||7,417|
|27||28||Hermitage Country Club (Manakin)||Manakin-Sabot||72||6,955|
|28||29||Birdwood Golf Course||Charlottesville||72||6,920|
|29||27||The Foundry Golf Club||Powhatan||72||6,901|
|30||33||Glenmore Country Club||Keswick||72||6,951|
|31||30||Army Navy Country Club (Fairfax)||Fairfax||72||6,644|
|32||31||Boonsboro Country Club||Lynchburg||72||6,428|
|33||32||Trump National Golf Club (Riverview)||Potomac Falls||72||7,234|
|34||35||The Dominion Club||Glen Allen||72||7,229|
|35||34||The Country Club of Virginia (Westhampton)||Richmond||70||6,214|
|36||38||Royal New Kent Golf Club||Providence Forge||72||7,480|
|37||37||Jefferson Lakeside Country Club||Richmond||71||6,272|
|38||41||Roanoke Country Club||Roanoke||71||6,504|
|39||39||Princess Anne Country Club||Virginia Beach||70||6,042|
|40||40||Mattaponi Springs Golf Club||Ruther Glen||72||6,937|
|41||42||James River Country Club||Newport News||70||6,598|
|42||46||Poplar Grove Golf Club||Amherst||72||7,059|
|43||44||Williamsburg National Golf Club (Jamestown)||Williamsburg||72||6,953|
|44||43||Belle Haven Country Club||Alexandria||72||6,965|
|45||45||Winchester Country Club||Winchester||70||6,367|
|46||47||Golden Horseshoe Golf Club (Green)||Williamsburg||72||7,120|
|47||50||Draper Valley Golf Club||Draper||72||7,070|
|48||48||The Homestead (Old Course)||Hot Springs||72||6,099|
|49||NR||Danville Golf Club||Danville||70||6,235|
|50||49||Laurel Hill Golf Club||Lorton||71||7,010|
NR: Not rated Source: Virginia Golf Ratings Panel