Why is it that whenever you try to make it clear to someone how bad you are at something—issuing all kinds of disclaimers about lack of practice and so forth—you promptly perform like a genius and make yourself seem to be a liar as well? All I know is that for that day and a good part of the next on the Kingsmill River course, I hit shots more consistently solid than I ever had in my life.
The River course, designed by Pete Dye, may be familiar to followers of Tour events (the PGA's Michelob Championship is played there each year) for its many tiered, railway-tied fairways, steeply elevated greens and yet another stunning quartet of par threes. The course demands very consistent, accurate shot making but never feels unfairly punitive.
Somehow the combination of the course's landscape—the low rolling hills, deep woods and vast river views—and all the history that's unfolded in the area conspire to put your petty struggles in perspective. I remember standing on the tee to the par-three seventeenth, watching my second shot sail far wide of where I'd envisioned it going and then trickle down toward the bank of the James River, thinking how impossible it would have been for those first Jamestown settlers to imagine that one fruit of all their suffering would be a civilization advanced enough to enjoy a sport made of misery itself.
International airports in Richmond and Norfolk and the Newport News-Williamsburg Airport are all less than an hour's drive from Colonial Williamsburg. Brutal temperatures and humidity in summer give way to near perfect fall conditions (spring is also great). Avoid the crowds and save money by visiting during winter. Check visitwilliamsburg.com for city details.
Where To Play
Williamsburg is surrounded by more than a dozen diverse courses open to the public. Tracks at Golden Horseshoe and Kingsmill are the most famous, but no weak courses have been colonized here.
Golden Horseshoe At Colonial Williamsburg
Gold and Green courses, 401 South England Street. Great golf and the country's first island green. Adjacent to the Historic Area. Par/Yardage: 71/6,817 (Gold); 72/7,120 (Green). Green Fees: $55-$130 (Gold); $40-$95 (Green). Architects: Robert Trent Jones Sr., 1963 (Gold); Rees Jones, 1991 (Green). Contact: 757-220-7696; colonialwilliamsburg.com.
T&L GOLF Rating: Gold: **** 1/2 ; Green ****
Kingsmill Resort & Club
River, Plantation and Woods courses, 100 Golf Club Road. Built on the site of Richard Kingsmill's 1736 plantation. Par/Yardage: 71/6,853 (River); 72/6,784 (Woods); 72/6,543 (Plantation). Green Fees: $80-$145 (River); $70-$105 (Plantation and Woods). Architects: Pete Dye, 1975 (River); Tom Clark and Curtis Strange, 1995 (Woods); Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay, 1986 (Plantation). Contact: 757-253-3906; kingsmill.com.
T&L GOLF Rating:
River **** 1/2 ;
Woods **** 1/2 ;
Plantation *** 1/2