Having lived in Virginia for almost 30 years one would think that I surely would have played all the the architecturally significant golf courses in the state, but unfortunately that is not a safe assumption. Despite the fact that Farmington Country Club has been sitting a just a short 75 minute drive from my door step I had yet to visit the club. Many of my friends had been there and I had heard great things about the course, but for one reason or another, I just never had the opportunity to visit. Luckily, late in the summer last year I met a member and he very kindly invited me to come pay his club a visit. After a couple of false starts we finally got a plan in place and a tee time set for late in the Fall . . . my favorite time of the year for golf in Virginia.
As with many of America’s older clubs Farmington has an interesting history. Prior to being a country club and dating back to the mid 1700s the land where the club now sits was known as Farmington Estate. The original home for the estate is believed to have been built sometime before 1780 and in the early 1800s the estate’s owner at that time commissioned none other than Thomas Jefferson to design an addition to the house. Jefferson created an octagonal addition which had two rooms. Today this nearly 250 year old structure and its Thomas Jefferson designed addition serve as the main clubhouse for Farmington Country Club. Incidentally, the Jefferson addition had been tampered with prior to the club taking possession, but in the mid 1970s the club restored it to its original splendor with the help of a Professor of Jeffersonian Architecture at the nearby University of Virginia.
Upon pulling into the parking lot I immediately met up with my host Pat, and since I had worn my golf shoes for the drive up (gotta love the spikeless shoes) we went immediately to the range to hit a few balls. After a few swings to loosen up we made our way to the 1st tee on a beautiful Fall day in Virginia. The yardages below are all from the black tees which play 6,369 yards and to a par of 70.
Hole 1 – 364 Yards – Par 4
The opening hole at Farmington Country Club gives a glimpse of what is to come throughout the round with an elevated tee box and a fairway that tilts from left to right. A good drive here will leave just a short approach into the green.
Hole 2 – 181 Yards – Par 3
Next we have a lengthy uphill one shot hole with bunkers on both sides. There is plenty of room in the front of the green so the preferred miss is short of the green so as not to have to tangle with the bunkers or the large tree behind the green.
Hole 3 – 414 Yards – Par 4
Here is where things start to get interesting. This long par 4 doglegs to the right and plays downhill so the course gives a little extra yardage on the drive. The fairway tilts from left to right. Players have to be careful with the drive as it is possible to hit it through the fairway if the tee shot goes too far to the left.
The downhill approach into the green from the left side of the fairway.
Hole 4 – 349 Yards – Par 4
The long par 4 is followed by a short one, but it is impossible to take dead aim at the green because of the trees and the creek. The best plan of action is to hit the drive down the right side of the fairway and let it roll back down to the middle leaving just a wedge into the green.
Hole 5 – 421 Yards – Par 4
After the last two holes played downhill we have a long par 4 that plays uphill and bends to the right. Drives hit down the left will have a long approach into the green and those hit down the right will have a shorter approach but could possibly be flirting with the creek.
Hole 6 – 143 Yards – Par 3
Next we come to another uphill par 3, but this one plays considerably shorter than the last. An extra club is not likely to hurt here.
Hole 7 – 502 Yards – Par 5
I loved the next couple of holes and the way they are situated on the land. This one is the only par 5 on the front nine and long hitters will have a chance to reach the green in two. Depending on where the drive lands it may be a blind shot into the green though.
Hole 8 – 408 Yards – Par 4
This long par 4 requires a good drive in order to have a clear view of the green. Something hit long down the middle is going to be the best here.
Hole 9 – 378 Yards – Par 4
The last hole on the front nine runs straight uphill and plays quite a bit longer than the scorecard indicates. The fairway bunkers are in play and there are trees along the right side that can be problematic for a hook . . . not that I’d know anything about that.
Hole 10 – 222 Yards – Par 3
The back nine starts off with a very long par 3. Luckily there is plenty of room to miss on the short side, but beware of the out of bounds along the left side. Better to take your chances with a shorter club and a wedge than a long club that might have a tendency to go wildly to the left . . . again, just an observation that I surely wouldn’t have any first hand experience with.
Hole 11 – 417 Yards – Par 4
I loved the view from this tee box, but it is without question an intimidating shot. The hole bends to the left so drives hit along the right side will have a longer approach into the green on what is already a lengthy hole.
Hole 12 – 369 Yards – Par 4
The crew was doing a little work to this tee box, so pardon the construction. This hole runs uphill and plays a bit longer because of it. Placing the drive on the left side of the fairway will shorten the approach shot into the green, but the bunkers are in play and drives flying too far left will be punished.
Hole 13 – 296 Yards – Par 4
This short little par 4 will be drivable for some players, but because it plays uphill the hole is a little long than it looks on paper. With a good drive it is a great opportunity for birdie.
Hole 14 – 454 Yards – Par 4
The drive on this hole is to a blind landing zone and as can be seen in the photo below looking back at the tee there is much yardage to be gained for drives landing on the downslope in the fairway. The approach into the green is a little bit back up the hill which should be considered when selecting a club.
Hole 15 – 362 Yards – Par 4
Here we have a shortish par 4. The green is located just over the hill and slightly to the right. With a good drive it should be less than a full wedge into the green.
Hole 16 – 542 Yards – Par 5
I didn’t get any pictures of the 16th hole, but it is a long par 5 that plays a bit uphill on the drive, doglegs to the left and is not going to be reachable for the average golfer. With a generous landing zone for the drive and second shot it is a hole that should be easily par-able with three good shots.
Hole 17 – 165 Yards – Par 3
Whoa! Talk about hang time! This hole plays at least one club shorter than the yardage. The thing about these drop shot par 3s that I think is tricky is that with all the time it takes for the ball to get down to the green there is plenty of time for it to veer off course. It pays to hit a pure shot here.
Hole 18 – 382 Yards – Par 4
The closing hole is not a long par 4, but playing uphill as it does adds a little yardage. The fairway slopes from right to left so a good line is just to the left of the trees on the right side of the fairway. Although the hole bends to the left, drives hit up the right side will move back towards the middle of the fairway.
One of the things I had been told about Farmington Country Club before I played there was that it was set amongst rolling hills and there was not a flat lie on the course. The person who told me this couldn’t have been more correct and I think that is the beauty of the course. The property itself is fantastic and the course presents a wide variety of holes across differing terrain and calls for all sorts of different types of shots. We played the course at just 6,300 yards, but with a par of 70 it’s not quite as short as it sounds. While there were some short holes there were also some long holes that can be terribly difficult if not started with a good drive. At a little more than 6,700 yards from that back tees the course can play plenty long and challenging with its par of 70.
I really had a great time playing this course and think that it may be somewhat of an undiscovered jewel. While the course is not ranked on any of the Top 100 lists, and I don’t expect that it would be, Farmington presents a fun golf experience on a very good golf course that features a number of really great and really fun holes. Driving home it made me wonder how many other great little clubs there are like Farmington sprinkled across the small towns of America just waiting to be discovered by the traveling golf nerd army. My hunch is that there are quite a few more.