I didn’t golf last weekend as I spent much of it watching the coverage of the presidents cup. I know it was a blowout, but I always enjoy watching something other than stroke play! However, I wanted to take advantage of some warm weather this weekend and Saturday was going to be the better day to play. I haven’t played many new courses in Virginia this year, so within the last month I’ve been working hard on fixing that! I hope to continue to do so this fall, as now is a great time of year to golf in so many places, including Virginia.
I started my day nice and early with a 7:45am tee time at Suffolk Golf Course. You can do the math on the drive time from Charlottesville, but it was an early morning! Speaking of the morning, it was a great one to be out and an even better one to be out on a course! I teed off by myself and was one of the first “groups” out. I played through a foursome on the 14th hole and saw another twosome ahead all round, but I never caught them. I played in two and a half hours and was almost done in time for breakfast at Chick Fil A, unheard of for me!
I picked Suffolk because it was a course in the area that I hadn’t played and it paired well with my afternoon selection (sounds like I’m talking about wines here!). By all accounts there wasn’t anything awe inspiring about the course, just that it was a good value. Of course, if you read my blog you know I’m all about that!
It only took a couple holes for my mind to find similarities between Suffolk and two other courses that I’ve played in recent years. Those two courses are Dogwood Trace Golf Course nearby in Petersburg, Virginia and Ocala Golf Club in Central Florida. Those courses have a semi-parkland style look, are located in the middle of a busy area, and Ocala renovated their greens within the last few years.
When it comes to the design, I found Suffolk brilliant fun to play, at least on the front nine! The front parallels a road, turns left at some train tracks, and then zigzags its way back to the clubhouse. The holes on the front are parallel and there is no shortage of pine trees, which line many of the holes. You have to put the ball in the right spots for looks at the greens, you can hit any number of clubs off the tees, and the green complexes aren’t easy once you get there. I ended up in some low areas having to chip and my only play was a bump and run. After just about every shot I’d get to my ball and wish that I could try that shot again!
No one hole stands out on the front nine to me, it was just a collection of fair, solid holes! There are long and short par 4’s and gettable par 5’s. The 176 yard par 3 6th is one of my favorite holes on the course. It is out towards the edge of the property, surrounded by pines, and has a marshy look to it!
On the other hand, I didn’t care much for the back nine. From what I’ve read, the back was added later and the land isn’t as good for golf. The back is hillier and its design seemed constrained by a lake on the east side of the property. The back nine offers more solitude, but be prepared for some goofy holes! The back requires straight shots and some local knowledge, so approach it cautiously. I played the blue tees which are 70.9/120/6305 and think the ratings should be higher, mostly because of the precision needed on the back!
The 11th is a super sharp dogleg where you’ll want to hit it 230 yards max off the tee, unless you cut the corner. It is one of the longest par 4’s on the course so laying up off the tee felt wrong! You might want to aim short and right of the green and try to get it up and down for par. The 12th is a narrow par 4 with the lake to the left and the 15th has a blind tee shot to a fairway that runs out. I played through here and didn’t pay any attention to my GPS. Sadly, I hit a good drive but never had a chance to find the ball as driver wasn’t the play off the tee. Finally, the 18th is a reachable par 5 if you can favor the left side of the fairway. If you layup you’ll have to carry the layup a long way over a hazard, and deal with an awkward angle to get the fairway.
The conditions at Suffolk were mixed. The greens were fantastic and rolled so much better than the $35 green fee would indicate! I read the greens were redone in 2013 and the course went to bermuda greens, I sure wish more Virginia courses would do this! They were cut short, rolled true, and were speedy. Everything else was playable and reflective of the green fee. The fairways were full but mixed with many different grasses. I believe it is a city course so mixed conditions don’t bother me since I’m not paying a premium to play there.
The bottom line is that Suffolk offers an affordable round with brilliant greens. The greens were in great shape and require precise shots. If the back nine played more like the front nine, I think I would be higher on the course.
#1 (477 yard par 5):
#2 (384 yard par 4):
#3 (422 yard par 4):
#4 (360 yard par 4):
#5 (362 yard par 4):
#6 (176 yard par 3):
#7 (497 yard par 5):
#8 (322 yard par 4):
#9 (205 yard par 3):
#10 (451 yard par 5):
#11 (413 yard par 4):
#12 (365 yard par 4):
#13 (310 yard par 4):
#14 (140 yard par 3):
#15 (388 yard par 4):
#16 (168 yard par 3):
#17 (385 yard par 4):
#18 (480 yard par 5):