I didn’t have an afternoon tee time reserved anywhere, but I was hoping to play either Heron Ridge or The Signature at West Neck. Both are in Virginia Beach and Heron Ridge is a Fred Couples course while The Signature at West Neck is a Palmer design. I figured that I couldn’t go wrong with either as I have had good experiences with both designers.
Ultimately I played West Neck, but I was indecisive. Heron Ridge said they had foursomes going out around the time I wanted to play, but that they could get me out. West Neck said come on out, and their online tee sheet showed their last time was 11:40am. The courses are so close to each other that I drove over to Heron Ridge first. Their lot was packed! I then decided to take my chances at West Neck and headed over there. When I got there, the proshop said I could join another single and we’d likely be in front of a threesome.
Unfortunately, that isn’t how things went down and it ended up being a circus on the 1st tee! The threesome was actually on the tee when I got there and they were letting another single play ahead of them. The single that I was going to join rolled up while the threesome was teeing off. Then two more singles got to the first tee. It made sense for us to play as a foursome and while I’m fine being paired up, I was worried about not finishing! We teed off at 1pm, having a bit over 4 hours of daylight. I felt like I was pushing our group, but we ended up finishing just as the sun set.
Anyway, enough about my scramble for an afternoon round! It turned out to be a great afternoon on a pretty good course. Our group had some nice conversation and the sun started to come out on the 4th hole. As we finished, birds and crickets were chirping and the sky had some good color with the sunset.
West Neck is an upscale community course, located in Virginia Beach and designed by Arnold Palmer’s firm. Or so the course website says! Honestly, I’m not sure if Palmer or his firm actually designed the course. Either way, there is some memorabilia in the clubhouse and Palmer’s signature umbrella in the mounding behind the 10th green. Heck, his picture is even on the front of the scorecard! If for some reason you forget these things, you likely can figure out that you are playing a Palmer course based on the design.
I played the blue tees which are 71.6/135/6569 and found that the course had a nice mix of thinking holes with places to miss! There isn’t a bunch of seclusion to the course’s location and I was surprised that the homes were so close in certain spots! Heck, the cart path seemed to meander into resident’s yards on the 1st, 14th, and 17th holes.
If you can overlook all the homes, I think you will enjoy the design. The yardages on the par 4’s are mixed and on the par 3’s I hit short, mid, and long irons. There are plenty of risk/reward approach shots, room to play sideways off the tee, and greens where you can make putts.
The difficulty at West Neck comes from water hazards, uneven lies in the fairway, and cavernous bunkers. Water is in play on about half the holes and you will need to be able to carry it a decent distance on a handful of them. So, it could be a more difficult course for higher handicappers with the forced carries.
Like many flatter courses, there is plenty of mounding at West Neck. The greens are mounded which wasn’t a huge bother to me, but I struggled to control the flight and distance of my iron shots from the fairways. I had downhill, uphill, and sidehill lies which made it challenging!
To me, the course seemed overbunkered and the maintenance of the bunkers reflected that. They had rocks and shells in them and I’d be worried about playing newer clubs from them! If you pay close attention you’ll notice the “beach bunkers” here. Basically, the sand blends right into the water hazard, just like you’d find at a beach, clever! That is the first I’ve heard the term!
The rest of the maintenance was mixed, considering that I was expecting a premium course. I think I got an early twilight rate of $45, which was very nice of the proshop. For that price I wasn’t disappointed as I wasn’t charged a premium price. The fairways were beautiful and I had perfect lie after perfect lie. The tees were full and nice. It looks like the greens struggled this summer though, as they were spongy and had some dirt spots. The greens rolled without any issues, they just didn’t look great.
When it comes to interesting holes, the 5th needs your attention! It is a 192 yard par 3 and has a green that angles from front left to back right. It is one of those holes where you’ll need to hit a solid one as it is all carry over water to get to the green. Apparently Marc Leishman from the PGA Tour has a house behind the green here.
I thought the back nine had the better holes, including the par 3 11th and par 4 18th. The 11th is only 135 yards, but again has water in play. You can miss right, but the ball will likely collect into one of the chipping areas or bunkers. The 18th is a stout par 4 at 414 yards and looks slightly like the 18th at Bay Hill, especially on the approach with water off to the right!
I enjoyed my round at West Neck, especially considering that it may have been the last warm golf day I’ll see in Virginia for a while! It is a fun to play course in an average location. I’m not sure if I just have Florida on my mind or what, but West Neck struck me as a Florida course. I think Palmer did a good job designing courses, including this one, but it was hard to love West Neck with all the homes around.
#1 (362 yard par 4):
#2 (341 yard par 4):
#3 (422 yard par 4):
#4 (521 yard par 5):
#5 (192 yard par 3):
#6 (403 yard par 4):
#7 (192 yard par 3):
#8 (373 yard par 4):
#9 (521 yard par 5):
#10 (394 yard par 4):
#11 (135 yard par 3):
#12 (356 yard par 4):
#13 (151 yard par 3):
#14 (508 yard par 5):
#15 (358 yard par 4):
#16 (398 yard par 4):
#17 (528 yard par 5):
#18 (414 yard par 4):