I haven’t spent a lot of time in Virginia, and to be honest, I’ve played only a scant amount of golf. But Old Dominion has always fascinated me for some reason. Maybe it’s the rich Civil War history, that it was home to Thomas Jefferson, or the fact that it seems relatively unburdened by out-of-state gentrification. I can’t quite put my finger on it.
I’ve recently had a number of requests to highlight some of the public golf courses in the Richmond area. Like usual, I did a little of my own research, but mostly relied on feedback from our readers to compile our top ten list.
I don’t want to keep you waiting any longer, so let’s get started.
Royal New Kent Golf Club
Royal New Kent was designed by the venerable Mark Strantz and has been consistently ranked in Golf Digest’s list of “100 Greatest Courses”.
This links style layout isn’t typical of a lot of courses you’ll find in Virginia. That’s one of the reasons the locals like it so much. Instead of flying the ball through the air for 18 holes, you’re invited to use your imagination and the ground’s natural contours to navigate your way around.
The club’s motto is Invitca which means undefeated or unconquered. The term dates back all the way to ancient Rome and still stands as the motto of County Kent in England.
As you might expect, this is a tough golf course. The good news is that multiple sets of tees make it playable regardless of your skill level.
This place just sounds downright cool. I’m putting it at the top of my list when I get out to Richmond.
Meadowbrook Country Club
Even though Meadowbrook is touted as one of the higher-end private clubs in the Richmond area, the course is open for public play on a limited basis.
The club has a storied history of iconic pros too. Think Lanny and Bobby Wadkins, amongst others like the legendary “Popeye” Lumpkin.
The layout itself is everything you’d expect about old and traditional. The fairways are narrow, lined by mature trees that gobble up errant shots and make recovery difficult. The greens are on the smaller side and have plenty of slope. Stay below the hole or you could be in for a long day.
Not overly long, but always in tip-top shape, the consensus is a round at Meadowbrook isn’t to be missed.
Lake Chesdin Golf Club
When it opened in 1999, Lake Chesdin quickly became a favorite of both Richmond locals and visitors alike. I’m told the Bermuda fairways are like playing off carpet, and the greens are a dream to putt on. Sounds like a winning combination to me.
There’s nothing overly tricky about this layout, but it provides a fun-filled challenge for players of all abilities.
If you’re looking for more than just a great round of golf, the 20,000 square foot clubhouse has every amenity you could imagine.
Especially of note is the Cantina 19 restaurant which supposedly has killer Mexican food along with all the usual post round offerings you’d expect. Locals are particularly fond of Tuesdays when the “taco of the day” is half off and 16-ounce Coronas are under $5. You can bet I’ll make my tee time for Tuesday.
Independence Golf Club – Championship Course
The entire family is welcome at Independence Golf Club. Not only does this facility boast a tremendous layout, there’s fun to be had at the spacious indoor/outdoor event venue. On any given night of the week during the summer, you’re likely to find food trucks, live music, and lawn games for everyone to enjoy.
The Championship Course underwent a multi-million-dollar remodel in 2016 and the proof is in the pudding. When it reopened for play, it received the Golf Digest designation of “Top 10 Remodel of the Year”.
Unlike a lot of traditional courses in Virginia that are pure target golf, the Championship Course at Independence Golf Club gives you plenty of options. That’s especially true around the greens where closely mown areas and large undulations ask you to be creative.
Truly an all-encompassing experience, there’s something for everyone at Independence Golf Club.
The Club at Viniterra
Just 20 miles east of downtown Richmond, you’ll find the Club at Viniterra. This Rees Jones design sits adjacent to the critically acclaimed New Kent Winery and is the focal point of the greater residential community.
Golfers that play here note the wide variety of holes and frequent elevation changes that keep you on your toes. You never get bored, and each hole is memorable on its own.
Even more, the course yardage ranges all the way from 5,200 yards from the forward tees, to 7,725 from all the way back. Plenty of tee options for everyone.
Golf, wine, and beautiful scenery? Count me in.
Belmont Golf Course
Belmont Golf Course is one of the oldest courses in the area. It opened its doors all the way back in 1917 and was designed by A.W. Tillinghast. Just a decade later, it was redesigned by Donald Ross. That’s pretty esteemed company if you ask me.
Having hosted the 1949 PGA Championship (which was won by native son Slammin’ Sammy Snead), this course is filled with character and remains a true test to this day.
You guys know I love old, iconic courses. This track has me especially excited.
Providence Golf Club
Providence Golf Club underwent a renovation in 2002 and has received 4.5 stars from Golf Digest every year since.
This is a traditional parkland layout with narrow fairways lined by trees. Holes meander in each direction and ask you to strategize accordingly.
The premium here is on accuracy instead of length. While busting a driver can be beneficial on the par fives, there’s plenty of trouble to be found on the shorter holes.
One of the better kept secrets in the Richmond area, don’t overlook Providence Golf Club.
Hanover Golf Club
One of the more scenic courses in Richmond is Hanover Golf Club. It’s nestled in gently rolling foothills that offer spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Your chances of seeing wildlife are better than average too.
Also of note are the Anna River and Stagg creek which come into play on a number of holes.
The course itself features significant elevation changes throughout and the greens are exceptionally fast. Especially in the summer when it’s hot and they dry out.
The practice facilities have recently been upgraded and are now first-class.
Whether you’re looking to play or just practice, you can’t go wrong with Hanover Golf Club.
Birkdale Golf Club
Birkdale Golf Club is a semi-private club that sets aside ample tee times for the public every day.
The Dan Maples design caters to both seasoned players and beginners. From the back tees, expect to hit every club in your bag and be precise on your approach shots. The fairways are wide from the forward tees and golfers are able to run the ball into most greens.
Even though this course is lined by homes on most holes, it’s a treat to play and fairly priced.
Mill Quarter Plantation Golf Course
Mill Quarter Plantation is a public course in every sense of the word. You won’t find much pretention out here.
Instead, the atmosphere is laid back and everyone is welcome.
With that being said, the course has a loyal following of golfers that are proud to call it home. They love the fact that it’s playable and things move along. Pace of play is exceptional for as many rounds as this course does each day.
Mill Quarter Plantation has everything you need, and not much you don’t. So the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I’d consider myself fairly well traveled when it comes to playing golf around the country. For whatever reason however, I’ve not spent much time in Virginia, let alone the Richmond area.
After doing some research and hearing from our readers, it sounds like that needs to change.
In addition to great golf, there’s so much to see and do, it’s clear I’ve been missing out.
Thank you to everyone that made this latest course guide possible. I’m sure I’ve left out some details as usual, so please let us know your thoughts in the comments.