This fall one of the guys I play golf with in Richmond arranged the use of his in-laws house in Virginia Beach for a weekend so that a group of us could go down and play a few of days to play golf. A couple of guys going on the trip spend summers at Virginia Beach and are members at Princess Anne Country Club so we decided that the best plan would be to play there since it would be the easiest and most convenient. We arrived Friday afternoon and dropped our stuff off at the house before heading over to the course to tee it up.
Princess Anne Country Club began in 1916 as a real estate promotion. A group of locals were offered the land by a development group under the provisions that the locals would form a club, build a clubhouse and build a golf course. It was stipulated that the course had to be designed in such a way that there would be land for future home site development on both sides of each fairway. The locals moved on the deal and hired Clarence A. Neff to build both the clubhouse and the golf course. I’m not sure Mr. Neff had any other golf course designs to his name, but he was the was the architect behind The Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach as well as the Country Club of Virginia’s main clubhouse located in Richmond. In 2007 the golf course was closed down for a period of time and went through a major renovation under the direction of golf course architect Tim Liddy. Mr. Neff’s clubhouse was also replaced at some point in the last few years, but I’m not exactly sure when.
Princess Anne Country Club is located right in the heart of Virginia Beach so it couldn’t be more convenient for folks who live on or near the beach. A little more than 5 minutes after leaving the house we were at the club and hitting balls on the range. When our tee time was up we headed to the 1st tee to get the weekend started. There was no discussion as to what yardage we would play as the tips here only stretch out to 6,042 yards. Even with a par of 70 this is still a very short course.
Hole 1 – 414 Yards – Par 4
Despite it being a short course we start out the round with a stout par 4. With thick trees on the left and right the best plan is to hit something down the middle.
Below is a look at the approach into the 1st green. A short drive will leave a long shot into this green which requires a carry over water and does not have much room for error around the green. I thought this was a pretty tough opening hole.
Hole 2 – 180 Yards – Par 3
Here we have a tricky par 3 with a tough green that plays over the road. As mentioned above the golf course was built with the intent of having home sites added in the future. Because the course is nestled amongst more than 125 home sites the course crosses roads that give access to these homes at ten different places.
Hole 3 – 352 Yards – Par 4
This hole is the first of several short par 4s. Again, note that the left and right sides of the fairway are bordered by trees.
The approach shot into this green is likely to be a short iron or wedge but the green is two tiered with the front tier being higher so it is necessary to make sure to hit the green in the right spot.
Hole 4 – 421 Yards – Par 4
Here we have another long par 4 and this one doglegs to the right. The best line is to go down the right center of the fairway. Drives that go left will have a very long approach and drives that go too far right may have the approach shot blocked out by the trees.
Below is a look at the approach into the 4th green.
Hole 5 – 359 Yards – Par 4
Next we come to a short par 4 that allows for a driver off the tee or a much shorter layup shot. The danger in driver is that there is out of bounds both left and right, so players choosing this option need to be confident that they can drive their ball straight.
Below is a look at the short shot into the green after hitting driver from the tee. The bunkers on the left would likely be in play off the tee for long hitters. The green slopes left to right which makes a back left hole location difficult to access.
Hole 6 – 470 Yards – Par 5
The first par 5 that we play is a short one and definitely reachable in two for many players. The line from the tee is to hit the drive up the left side of the hole. In fact, aiming right at the flag is probably the best plan. Drives that go too far to the right will run out of fairway and likely end up out of bounds. All the housing on the course make for a lot of out of bounds stakes. Keeping it in bounds on the narrow fairways is the real challenge on this course.
Below is a look at the green from about 100 yards out. Note the deep bunkers on the left side of the green. This green is very accessible as there are no hazards in front of the green and balls that come up short will still likely end up on the putting surface with a chance at eagle.
Hole 7 – 146 Yards – Par 3
Here we have a beautiful little par 3. It only plays 146 yards but you cannot be long here. It pays to hit it to the middle of the green. The water in the background is not the ocean but a nearby inlet.
Hole 8 – 510 Yards – Par 5
The 8th hole is a little longer than the last par 5, but still reachable in two for players who hit a big drive. the hole bends to the right and the preferred line is down the right side of the fairway. Drives too far to the left will likely end up out of bounds. Note the power lines hanging in front of the tee box. The local rule is that you get to re-tee if your balls hits these. I didn’t see anyone hit them over the weekend, but apparently it happens more than you might think.
Below is a look at the approach shot into the 8th green from about 100 yards out.
Here is a look at the green from the bunker on the left side as well as a look at one of the incredible houses that surround the course. This one is rumored to have belonged to Philip Morris’ “Marlboro Man” at one point.
Hole 9 – 168 Yards – Par 3
We close out the front side with another par 3 and this one will require a mid length iron for most players. There are deep bunkers on both left and right so hitting the green is highly advised.
Hole 10 – 562 Yards – Par 5
We make the turn with a long par 5 that doglegs to the left. As seen in the photo below there is a bunker in the middle of the fairway and it is in play from the tee. I found the best strategy was to aim right at it and I would safely miss just left or right.
Below is a view of the 10th green.
Hole 11 – 192 Yards – Par 3
It takes a good shot to hit this green at the 11th hole. There is a road behind the green which means there is not much forgiveness for shots that go long. There is also out of bounds on the right side so a bad kick in that direction will leave the player hitting their third shot from the tee.
Hole 12 – 290 Yards – Par 4
This is a short and fun par 4 that has two options off the tee. Players who wish to make a bold shot can attempt to drive the green and hit their driver. Those who want to play it safe can hit a 180-200 yard shot to leave a wedge into the green. Our group played it both ways. Players hitting driver need to be careful as balls that are sliced to the right are likely to be forever lost.
Here is what the approach shot looks like for those who lay up from the tee. I forgot to take a photo of the actual green, but it sits down in bowl and is the lowest point on the hole.
Hole 13 – 359 Yards – Par 4
This hole is not quite as short as the last, but is still a fairly short par 4. It is fairly straight forward and keeping the ball away form the out of bounds stakes on the left and right side of the fairway is the first step to making a good score.
Hole 14 – 416 Yards – Par 4
Here we have a long par 4 that is also a fairly straight forward hole. Like the last hole both sides of the fairway are lined with woods and out of bounds stakes so keeping the ball in play from the tee is a good start here.
Below is a look at the green for the 14th hole.
Hole 15 – 197 Yards – Par 3
This is a tough par 3 that plays long and uphill. At 200 yards its a good plan to hit a little extra club to reach the green.
Here is a view of the 15th green from the 16th tee box.
Hole 16 – 297 Yards – Par 4
The last par 4 on the course is another short one. The tee box is elevated so players will pick up a few extra yards on their drive here. Again, the fairway is lined on both sides with trees and out of bounds stakes. Players who are not feeling confident with their driver can hit just about any club that is 150 yards or more.
Hitting driver will leave a tiny little pitch to the green as illustrated in the photo below.
Hole 17 – 154 Yards – Par 4
The final par 3 on the course may be the most nerve wracking of them all. It is only 154 yards, but it is all carry over water to reach the green, so there is little margin for error. Below is a look at the hole from the tee box.
Here is a bit more of a zoomed in view.
Hole 18 – 555 Yards – Par 5
The closing hole is a long par 5 that is only reachable in two for the longest of hitters. There is a short carry over water on the drive and then on the second shot players have out of bounds on the left only. The driving range runs down the right side and the fence dividing it from the course will save any poorly hit second shots that go too far to the right. The photo below is a look at the 18th green.
I’m pleased to say that over the course of the weekend I only hit one ball out of bounds. I must admit that there were numerous very close calls, but with the abundance of out of bounds I considered only one stroke and distance penalty to be a major victory. The course requires some good decision making on the tee and for players to know the limits of their games. With out of bounds stakes lurking all over the course, bad decision making can lead to scores getting out of hand in a big hurry. The reality is that many of the holes are short enough that players who take a conservative strategy shouldn’t really have issues with the white stakes. There are conservative options on just about every hole on the course which is one of the things that makes the course a fun place to play. Of course being at the beach and having holes on the water don’t hurt much either!
On a side note, we went to a restaurant on Friday night called “Chicks”. It’s an oyster bar and seafood restaurant that sits right on the water which is an incredible setting. The restaurant is HUGE and when we were there it was packed to the gills so it made for a fun evening. If you go there be sure to get an oyster shooter which consists of an oyster, cocktail sauce and beer served in a shot glass. I know that it doesn’t sound all that appealing, but as a person who is not really much of an oyster eater I can vouch that it’s pretty darn tasty!