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Jan 01

Golf Travel Log V – Back to Old Virginny

Golfing in Nothern Virginia

I do not know if any, or which, among the founding fathers, was occupied with the game of golf, but the practice was not unknown among America’s first congressional membership, especially with the Scottish contingent. Finding myself in Great Falls, Virginia as of this morning, I had an immediate sense of the strong colonial history that runs through this beautiful state. After all, it is the home of Jefferson and the early Lees, not to mention many others. Forty plus presidents and who knows how many congresses later, northern Virginia seemed a prime spot for a full-blown case of golfitis, so I set out to find what’s here, and got an eyeful.

Expecting to provide a full list, I quit before I was halfway done. Between thirty and forty legit courses can be found within 5 miles of Great Falls, and today’s movers and shakers are on the who’s who list. Courses include the River Bend Golf & Country Club, Hidden Creek in Reston, Herndon Centennial , Bretton Woods, Sterling Park, TPC  Potomac, Algonkian Regional, Falls Road, Congressional of Bethesda, Westwood in Vienna, Lakewood in Rockville, Burning Tree, Oak Marr and three in Fairfax (Penderbrook, International Town & Country and the Army-Navy Golf Club). There is also the Jefferson in Falls Church, the Westmont Country Club, the Kenwood, the Landsdowne, the Belmont in Ashburn, the Washington Golf & Country Club in Ashburn and the Needwood Executive Course – but enough!

trump1`If you envision tightly packed golf courses jamming elbows in compact urban settings, change the channel. Yes, the region is busy, but the Virginia woods make for sublime landscapes, and if you tweak your vision just right, the colonials can be seen walking the countryside as they did in the 18th century. The views are lavish and plentiful, often testing the long hitters. The weather can be dramatic or beatific, and if you play with any frequency, you’re likely to get both. Remind yourself that as you line up that next chip shot, the House and Senate are slaving away to forge your political destiny just over the next hill – but stay calm, for there is no Fiscal Cliff Golf & Country Club, at least not yet.

Edwin Watts Golf

If you are in the upper income stratosphere, however, you might run into one power player. Whatever your feelings may be about Donald Trump, it must be admitted that the man loves golf. He loves it so much, in fact, that he’s gotten into the habit of collecting courses, refurbishing them and reintroducing them to the public. One could almost swear that Trump is developing a monopoly on the industry, with recent acquisitions in Scotland, Los Angeles, the Jersey shore, Philadelphia, the Hudson Valley and Florida.
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trump2One of the crown jewels, however, lies just down the road from Great Falls, Virginia – the Trump National Golf Club of Washington, D.C. Winding its way along the Potomac, one of America’s most beautiful rivers, especially the torrent that passes by Great Falls, Trump’s course is a five-star affair, including two championship courses designed by top artists Tom Fazio and Arthur Hills.
It’s impressive the way this region around the nation’s capital has built up a density of courses, and set such a standard for course quality. Whether you’re going private, top-tier or municipal, there are no field courses or makeshift links. Forty good-looking courses in a five mile area – Trump that!

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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.