Golden Horseshoe Golf Club (Gold)

Golden Horseshoe Golf Club (Gold) – Played October 2017

  • Rankings: Golf Magazine Public #59
  • Location: 651 S England Street, Williamsburg, Virginia
  • Year: 1963
  • Architect: Robert Trent Jones
  • Course Access: Resort
  • Walking Rules: Carts Available

Score Card Information:

  • Gold: 6,817 yards, Par 71, 73.4 Rating/140 Slope
  • Blue: 6,522 yards, Par 71, 72.1 Rating/136 Slope
  • White: 6,248 yards, Par 71, 70.8 Rating/134 Slope
  • Silver: 5,504 yards, Par 71, 67.4 Rating/128 Slope (Men’s), 72.1 Rating/132 Slope (Women’s)
  • Red: 4,599 yards, Par 71, 63.0 Rating/114 Slope (Men’s), 66.0 Rating/119 Slope (Women’s)

The second stop on my quick Virginia jaunt was the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club in the heart of Williamsburg.

I was on my way to the course on my own in the morning and the GPS said it would take me between 5-10 minutes to get there from the hotel.  I was a little surprised at how close it was.

As I was driving along I passed through the campus of William & Mary, the local university.  I was still navigating some turns on the campus when it said I was basically at my destination.  It looked like I was still among campus and commercial buildings.  I made a right through an opening in a brick wall and the clubhouse greeted me.  It was definitely one of the more interesting entrances to a course since I wasn’t expecting it.

Once you get into the circle the clubhouse comes into view.  Check it out below.

The complex features well-regarded accommodations including the Inn as well as Colonial cottages.  You can see some of the rooms along the drive to the driving range.

The sign below is your only indication from the road that there is a golf course here.

The Gold Course is the gem of this complex.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the full-length Green Course and the Spotswood Course, an executive nine-holer.

The Gold was designed by Robert Trent Jones as the sign above attests.  It was recently renovated by his son, “the Open Doctor”, Rees Jones.  He added modern grasses throughout.  They also implemented the Better Billy Bunker construction to help with drainage and playability.  Tees were improved as well.

With the team of Joneses, I wasn’t sure what to think about the course going into the round.  Senior had a reputation for punishing golf courses from the penal school of architecture.  Rees has no shortage of detractors due to some of his very penal US Open redesigns.

I can thankfully say that I was impressed with the golf course.  I had a lot of fun playing it.  It provided plenty of challenge.  Added to that was the pleasure of playing with one of their assistant professionals.  He was a great guide while playing the course and enhanced my experience.

Let’s get into it so I can show you what I liked.  We played from the blue tees.

Hole 1 – 383 yards – Par 4

The first tee shot looks tight, but there is more room than it appears.  A fade works best here as you can run into the trees on the left.

The approach is straightforward.  The lack of definition behind the green adds to the challenge.

Hole 2 – 476 yards – Par 5

This is a definite early birdie opportunity.  With the tree off the tee, a fade works best here as well.  Due to the hole’s layout, you will want to get as far down as you can.

This is what I meant by getting as far down as possible.  The less club you have to use to carry the water the better.  This is a lovely view.

Below you can see that the green is pretty shallow.  The slope is mildly from back to front.

Hole 3 – 174 yards – Par 3

The Gold Course has a well-known reputation for having great par threes.  This is the first of them and it did not disappoint.  You tee off out of a chute down to the green.  The green sits at an angle to the tee.

The green is smaller than it looks from the tee.  You can see the wonderful contouring in the shadows and down where the flag sits.

Hole 4 – 403 yards – Par 4

This is the third hole that favors a fade, which is not my cup of tea.  The hole bends around to the right.

The approach is a tester.  You must avoid the deep bunker on the front left as par is very difficult from there.  You can run a shot up on the green through the open area.

Below are close and wide angle views of the putting surface.

Hole 6 – 471 yards – Par 5

I didn’t get any pictures of the fifth, sorry about that.  The tee shot here is a tight one visually, but there is more room than you see.  Play a fade up the center and you will be in good shape.

The fairway plunges down and back up the hill towards the green.  A good drive will definitely allow you to go for it.

This view from behind the green shows that it has some slope, but nothing too overpowering.

Hole 7 – 186 yards – Par 3

The par threes all play downhill as you will see.  This one was the most difficult to me.  We played into a stiff breeze that added length to the hole.  The front bunker should be avoided.  The large hill in front of the green is also difficult with long rough all over.

Once on the green flat putts abound.

Hole 8 – 323 yards – Par 4

This short par four is not really reachable.  The prudent play is to hit a fairway wood with a draw just inside the bunkers.  The sand is in play.

As the hole moves left you come into view of the green.  It is slightly elevated and framed by the bunkers.

Hole 9 – 360 yards – Par 4

The front side finishes with another dogleg left.  The right fairway bunkers are in play here as well as are the trees.

The approach is pretty nonchalant.  If you avoid the bunker on the right par should be easy.  Take aim at the pin.

The view from behind gives an idea of the size of the green and fairway.

Hole 10 – 450 yards – Par 4

The tenth begins a tough stretch of holes.  This tee shot needs to be long and straight to find the tree-lined fairway.

Your approach will probably be long, but the green is open and not surrounded by serious trouble.

The green gently rises from front to back with some other subtle knobs.

Hole 11 – 386 yards – Par 4

This shot is not as constricted as it looks.  The fairway opens up a bit past the forward tees.  You can swing away here.

The obvious obstacle on the second shot is the deep bunker in front.  You will not want too much club as long is dead.

Hole 12 – 169 yards – Par 3

We have a super downhill one-shotter here.  Slicers beware as right is wet.  Also, mishit shots coming up short will meet a watery end.  The green is quite large though to give some margin for error.  Beware the pot bunker behind the green.  Shots from there will have you staring down the water.

Hole 13 – 350 yards – Par 4

This shorter hole is played straightaway.  Choose a club from the tee and hit away.  The challenge is on the approach.

The green is elevated from most positions in the fairway.  The three bunkers provide difficult up and downs.

Hole 14 – 429 yards – Par 4

This dogleg right is on the longer side.  The fairway bunker seen guards the corner of the curve.  The fairway goes downhill before rising again to the green.

The green is receptive to running shots, but be careful to not go long.  Off line shots will find sand.

Hole 15 – 613 yards – Par 5

This is one brute of a hole.  Over 600 yards from all but the forward tees, it requires well-struck shots.  The tee shot should favor the right side of the fairway.

There is still a long way for the second shot.

A large bunker skirts the left side of the green.  Shots over the back are difficult.  I made an all-world birdie here that I had to share.

My drive was left and I didn’t have much of a swing.  I punched a shot up the fairway and was still 200 yards out.  I flushed my long iron to 4 feet and made the putt.  Silly game!

Hole 16 – 159 yards – Par 3

This is the signature hole of the Gold Course hands down.  The pro playing with me told me that they did drone shots of him hitting from this tee.  I can imagine how cool that was.

With the wind up this is a difficult shot.  The green is an island, but it is a large target.  Five bunkers guard the green.  There is plenty of variety in pin locations as well with this size green.

Hole 17 – 422 yards – Par 4

The penultimate hole is one of the hardest.  A tight tee shot must be hit long.  With the trees here the favored shot is a draw.  Don’t overdo it though as left is no good.

The approach is severely uphill.  More club will be needed for sure.

Hole 18 – 431 yards – Par 4

The final hole is no pushover either.  A good drive here will favor the right side as trees continue up the left and can block out shorter drives.

The hole meanders around the trees to the left and down the hill.  The water lurks close on the left side.  I imagine the right bunker is a popular spot.

Here is a closer look.  You can run the approach up onto the front, right side of the green.

You’ll notice I missed some pictures here.  I attribute that to Erick, my playing partner.  He was engaging and a joy to play with.  He made the day awesome.

The course is really fun and does a lot visually off the tees.  I found the course to be in good shape.  The greens rolled smoothly.  It’s a cliche, but if you pick the right tees the course is playable for all.

I’d like to say a special thanks to Glen Byrnes as well for his awesome hospitality.  The staff here are top notch.  If it isn’t apparent yet, I would highly recommend playing the Gold!

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