Westfields Golf Club — A True Golfer’s Dream
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One of the best things about Westfields Golf Club in thriving Northern Virginia is the silence. After teeing off on this Fred Couples’ signature course in Clifton, prick up your ears and the loudest thing you will hear is the gentle murmur of a faraway fairway mower or the cheerful greeting of the seemingly always available offer from the beverage cart girl. Oh, and the course isn’t too bad either. Located just minutes from the hustle and bustle of Northern Virginia’s I-66, the Washington D.C. beltway, and the never ending housing developments that canvas the area, this upscale daily fee 18-hole golf course seems light years away.
Golfers, don’t pinch yourself . . . this isn’t a dream, it’s very real. There are not many tracts of land available in this part of suburbia, but Couples and partner Gene Bates managed to lay out a superb parkland style course on just 150 acres, all without a house or single vehicle in sight. Easily and quickly accessible from major arteries, Westfields feels like a private golfing sanctuary miles from civilization. Brilliantly woven through majestic oak and beech trees, Westfields gently rolls golfers past several wetlands on a green carpet of exquisitely manicured playing surfaces. In 1998, Couples’ goal was to create a golfer’s delight, and much like his prodigious tee shots during his glory days of the 90s, Boom Boom has definitely hit the nail on the head. Although most fairways are lined by dense strands of mature hardwoods, the course doesn’t make the average golfer feel claustrophobic. Couples’ golf travels around the world have been blended into Westfields.
Another quality here is the “Member for a Day” treatment that golfers receive when they turn into the driveway and pull in front of Westfields’ elegant and tasteful clubhouse. From the bag drop guys, the professional staff, and back to the starters and rangers, golfers are treated with a friendly and all the way first-class treatment at Westfields. Before venturing out to take on Couples’ and Bates’ brilliant layout make sure to check out Boom Boom’s golfing memorabilia located in the center halls of the clubhouse − from old photos to one of Couples’ President Cup golf bags − there’s plenty of neat stuff for all of Freddy’s fans to savor.
But the golf course is the true centerpiece, and choosing the right set of tees is key. Select from five, ranging from the short 4597 Red up to the 6897 Boom Boom. Most golfers will find the 6496 Blue or 6034 White a fair test of golf. The fairway landing areas are well defined and fairly generous with most holes framed by impressive potato chip-like looking bunkers. Westfields is a fun to play golf course with plenty of memorable holes, and enough challenges for the diehard golf junkie.
The signature hole comes early, but several worthy challengers follow behind. The par 3 third pictured on the cover is a true eye-catcher with its L-shaped green protected by a large pond in front and framed by bold and stunning rock croppings. From the Boom Boom tees at 223 yards it’s a test for even a touring pro. From the 155-yard White tees, it’s still no pushover. Back-to-back longish par 4’s define the front side at Westfields. The fifth is a straightaway 448-yard (Boom Boom) that is protected by a single fairway bunker to the left. The sixth is the longest par 4 on the course at 473 yards, but plays a little shorter than its actual yardage. Guarded by three huge fairway bunkers and a green that’s tucked behind yet another daunting bunker, take par here and move on gleefully.
Couples and Bates provide the requisite short par 4 on the back, in fact, you’ll discover a pair of back-to-back gems at the thirteenth and fourteenth holes. The 365-yard thirteenth is a slight dogleg to the right that features an old Civil War graveyard just off the right of the fairway. Hit it there and enjoy the history − and don’t forget to take a free drop. The 285-yard par 4 fourteenth offers golfers a chance to drive the green, but to do so the tee shot must be carved in from left to right. A gaping greenside bunker and plenty of hardwoods lurks to the right. The par 5 fifteenth features an awe-inspiring elevated tee shot to a wide landing area. It’s uphill the rest of the way, so take more club if going for the green in two. My favorite hole at Westfields is the scenic par 4 sixteenth that can stretch out to 384 yards. A creek meanders down the entire left side of the fairway and dumps into a pond just off the left of a narrow sliver of green.
Several miles north on route 29 is the Westfields Marriott. This world-class state-of-the-art hotel features a full service day spa, complete conference center, and access to the golf course. General Manager Jason Paul and his entire crew make this facility not only one of the top upscale courses in the mid-Atlantic, but also a favorite destination for group and corporate outings. Westfields and Couples deliver on their promise of excellent golf and exceptional service − all the makings of a true golfer’s dream.
Sly Fox Golf Club (formerly Jackson’s Chase) —
Save a Horse, Ride a Golf Cart
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It’s very likely that somewhere along your travels in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia you will pass farmland where horses roam the countryside. It still remains part of the charm and beauty of this area. The rolling terrain which dominates the topography of the region is prevalent at Jackson’s Chase Golf Club just outside of Front Royal. The dramatic landscape which this course is routed on is one rich in history. So, before we talk about the golf course, open up your books for a brief Civil War lesson. General Stonewall Jackson, the course’s namesake, had a decisive victory in a series of battles for the Confederacy in what has come to be known as “Jackson’s Valley Campaign.” Jackson did this with a paltry total of 17,000 men, compared to the Union’s 60,000. That’s kind of like taking on your buddies in a game of golf with only 5 clubs compared to their 14. He did this by using the geography of the valley to his advantage, forcing the Union to alter their future strategies. On the fateful morning of May 24, 1862, with a brigade camped on the golf course land, Jackson gave chase after Union troops in Strasburg, eventually doing battle with them in Newtown (now known as Stephen’s City) before defeating them in Winchester. That’s the Cliffs Notes version. Put your pencils down, pass your papers forward, class dismissed.
Jackson’s Chase is affectionately known by locals as “The Chase” or “The Jack,” and much like Stonewall did in his skirmishes, you too can use the natural features to assist your game when you tackle this popular and beautiful course. The undulating playing field can be used on several holes to put you in prime areas to score better. Most will tell you that The Jack, like many courses, is the type that requires a couple of rounds to figure out the nooks and crannies. I’ve always thought that was one of the best traits of the golf game…education. The par-72 layout stretches from a comfortable 4400 yards for the ladies to nearly 6600 from the tips.
The front nine opens with a relatively easy par 4 where all of your trouble is to the left. The par 3 second hole has a deep green, so back pin placements will force you to take an extra club. From the back tees, the longest hole at Jackson’s Chase is the par 5 third. Some newly added bunkers down the right side will come into play if you are laying up on your second shot. The green is also one of the tougher ones, sloping from front to back. The fourth hole has and still remains my favorite par 4. A solid tee shot is needed to reach the top of the hill, with the green set back amongst the trees. Par is always a good score here. Another good par 4 is the fifth, with bunkers protecting both sides of the fairway. Favor the left side on your tee shot at the sixth. Balls will ricochet down to the right side, setting up your approach on this par 4. Much like the second hole, the par 3 seventh requires all carry to the green, which is level with the tee box and has a deep valley between them. The eighth is a par 5 that normally requires three shots, with an emphasis on placing the second shot in a small island-type fairway. The green is built into the side of a hill, so errant shots won’t go too far down the beaten path. A demanding tee shot over a ghastly gorge faces you on the par 4 ninth, but that is a piece of cake compared to the green, which requires Stonewall Jackson-like strategy to conquer.
The inward nine starts with the par 5 tenth with its striking elevation changes and defined landing areas. This is the beginning of a section at The Chase that one may label target golf with ravines and lakes that need to be avoided. Make sure not to miss the green left, because the drop-off makes for a very difficult up-and-down. The par 3 eleventh plays from an elevated tee to a two-tiered green protected by a pond. With Signal Knob Mountain in the background, this hole has achieved signature status. A fairway metal or rescue club is a wise choice for your tee shot on the par 4 twelfth. The deep chasm that splits the property must be force carried. Thirteen is an exciting par 5 that has a “go for two” mentality which leads to good scoring opportunities. Make use of the sloping fairway on the tough par 4 fourteenth. Tee shots need to be played up the right side. Things ease up quite a bit from here on in at Jackson’s Chase. I’ve seen fifteen and seventeen, both par 4’s reached by drives on occasion. Nestled back in the woods, the par 3 sixteenth is easily handled with proper club choice…just don’t miss left. The closing par 4 is also a decent birdie hole, all set up by a solid tee ball that reaches the top of the hill.
The logo for Jackson’s Chase has the aforementioned general sitting stoically on his horse. You can imagine the patience and endurance during adversity that Jackson had to go through with his famous valley campaign. Those traits come in handy today as you step up to the tee and test your courage and valor during your crusade at The Chase.
Nick Ciattei, Golf Guide Staff Writer