For the last couple of years my family has taken a little vacation together around Memorial Day and it is always to a spot that has golf available. After doing Pinehurst and Hilton Head Island in the past we decided to try something different this year and go to Landsdowne Resort in in Northern Virginia. I had heard of the place, but had not ever been there and really didn’t know anyone else who had been there. It doesn’t bode well when you ask all your golf nerd friends if they have played a course and no one has . . . usually if it’s worth visiting at least one of them will have been there!
Upon arrival we immediately noticed that there was a huge corporate event going on which probably should have put our expectations in check. The hotel had a very corporate vibe to it and as we were walking to our room my wife commented that it felt like she was at one of her company’s national sales meetings.
The next day we had our first round of golf lined up and as we drove our carts to the 1st tee my first impression is that there were houses all along the perimeter of the course. I don’t play a lot of courses around or near housing developments so it was something that stood out to me immediately. From what I was able to see so far the houses were not actually on the course itself, just close enough to be an eyesore.
We basically had the entire course to ourselves so we were able to zip around pretty quickly. The course as a whole is largely uninteresting from an architectural standpoint with a lot of flat terrain and fairly boring holes. The entire front nine is plagued with vistas of McMansions, office buildings and high rise apartments. While these structures are not ON the golf course itself, they are surrounding it and diminish the vibe of the course significantly.
Below is a photo of the approach into the 2nd green.
And a look back from the 3rd green.
Once we got to the back nine things got a little bit better. Not only did the real estate around the course disappear for a number of holes, but the terrain suddenly became a little more interesting.
My favorite hole on the course was the 12th hole which is a 398 yard par 4. A stream bisects the fairway and long hitters can take a shortcut by hitting left of the stream. Players who opt for the right side will have a long iron uphill into the green.
Another cool hole is the one shot 13th hole which plays from an elevated tee box and also crosses over the stream. It’s a fairly basic hole, but aesthetically its one of the more attractive holes on the course, especially with the old stone wall that runs across the hole.
Overall, this course was pretty disappointing. The location being set among the houses and office parks was a real turn off to me. I suspect that when Landsdowne Resort opened it was in the middle of nowhere and over the last 20+ years the Washington DC sprawl has turned what was once beautiful country side into suburbia. I’m sure the course is just fine for a convention golf outing, but as a spot for a leisurely round of golf it just didn’t quite satisfy. Hopefully, the Greg Norman course will be a little bit better.