Now is one of the times of year I look forward to for golf! Yes, part of my excitement has to do with cooler temperatures and the fall colors, but I don’t mind the heat. What I really enjoy come mid-September is that everyone has shifted their focus to watching football. That means quicker rounds! Sure enough, it only took me 3.5 hours to cruise around Augustine.
At the beginning of the year, I listed Augustine as one of the Virginia courses that I wanted to play this year. I’ve played most of the public courses within an hour of Charlottesville and this list is of potential courses within 1.5 hours. I haven’t done a very good job trying to whittle these courses down, but playing Augustine is a step in the right direction!
There isn’t a direct way to Stafford from Charlottesville (because of just a few bridges over the Rappahannock River) so it took me every bit of that hour and a half to get there! I got to the course about a half hour early and chipped and putted for a bit. I’m not sure how much it really helps me to warm up, but it sure was nice to relax into a round compared to rushing to the first tee, which I seem to do so often.
I eyeballed the scorecard while rolling up to the first tee and decided to play the tips. The blacks (the tips) are 73.2/140/6725 while the blues are 71.4/137/6309. The blues are shorter than what I like to play and considering that you tend to get the best views and angles when playing from the tips, I chose the tips. That turned out to be a good call as the course was firm and may tee shots play from elevated tee boxes. As, a result I only hit seven drivers from the tips. I’m not the longest hitter either! The course plays as a par 71 so keep that in mind when picking tees.
No matter your choice of tees, you have to make quick decision on the first tee. Which fairway do you play to?! The fairway has a hazard in the middle of it and a lone tree that can snag shots. I mulled it over and decided to hack it down the left side, partly because it didn’t look like that carts were allowed to the right fairway! The right fairway leaves a shorter approach, but a worse angle. By playing a course only once, I tend to miss the genius of these type of design features.
While there aren’t any more split fairways, you still need to pick lines and hit them on the rest of the holes at Augustine. The 2nd is a long, downhill par 4 where the ideal drive draws around a lake. If you fade the ball then it is uncomfortable and a good chance you’ll end up in the hillside to the right, like me! There are all sorts of other examples where you can challenge trouble off the tee or take less club and play to a wider spot. It isn’t the type of course I can get around without losing one or two drives a round, but I don’t think it is unfair off the tee. I prefer something more open off the tee, but I live in the wrong state for that! My suggestion would be to implement a “desert rule”, and allow a drop at the edge of the woods with a penalty stroke.
Besides the potential lost ball trouble at Augustine the green complexes are, in a word, treacherous. The greens are larger, but each one has almost three mini greens making it up. There are ridges, random mounds, and as much slope as anyone could want. If you miss the green, good luck getting the ball close as you’ll have to die your chip or putt at a ridge and let it trickle to the hole. If you are really good you can use some slopes to your advantage, but it is doubtful the average golfer can hit those shots. I had multiple double breaking putts to figure out, and spending that energy all through the round was draining. I would have enjoyed Augustine a heck of a lot more if the greens more playable.
Rick Jacobson designed the course and he has done some other courses that I have, for the most part, enjoyed. I think he did a good job keeping some places to find the ball, and generally gives you a side to miss. If you play the high sides of the holes you can get some good bounces. I noticed a lot of grass bunkers, which I like a lot.
Jacobson varied the yardages nicely with long and short par 3’s, par 4’s,and par 5’s. The homes are tucked back so they aren’t in play and I loved the stretch from the 6th through the 8th. The 6th is a long par 3 with a hazard short and left. There is plenty of room to bail right and a bunker on the low side to catch shots before getting to the water. The 7th is an uphill par 4 that plays through the pines and the 8th is a devilish, short par 3 with tough pin locations.
The conditions for late in summer were very nice and the course is looking real good going into the fall! As I mentioned, everything was firm so tee shots leaped forward and I had to try to land my irons short of the flags. The fairways and tees are bermuda and as full as you can want this time of year. The fairways were a smidge long, just enough that they let a little grass get between the clubface and ball but heck, I paid $33. The greens had some patchy spots, but as long as you didn’t have to putt through one of those areas they rolled well. They were a tad quick for my liking, but all things considered Augustine is a great value in Northern Virginia. That is a rare find!
My verdict on Augustine is that it is too tough for me to want to play on any consistent basis, even from the blue tees. There is likely one “easy” shot on the course, the tee shot on the 15th. If a designer wants to bash a golfer’s head in from the tips that is fine by me. But, that 137 slope from the blue tees is borderline too much. The shots required from those tees looked just as tough to me. I didn’t notice the angles being much better from the blues and it could be a lot of layups from there.
#1 (406 yard par 4):
#2 (444 yard par 4):
#3 (395 yard par 4):
#4 (562 yard par 5):
#5 (399 yard par 4):
#6 (196 yard par 3):
#7 (417 yard par 4):
#8 (136 yard par 3):
#9 (399 yard par 4):
#10 (423 yard par 4):
#11 (502 yard par 5):
#12 (434 yard par 4):
#13 (433 yard par 4):
#14 (223 yard par 3):
#15 (300 yard par 4):
#16 (396 yard par 4):
#17 (167 yard par 3):
#18 (493 yard par 5):