By Stephanie Tipple, Contributing Writer
As the weather warms and the spring season is fully upon us, pro golfers and amateurs alike will be clamoring to make tee times at one of the many golf courses in the area. Prince William County is home to a number of award-winning golf courses, both public and private, including Old Hickory, Stonewall, Forest Greens and General’s Ridge.
If you are looking for prime golﬁng on the eastern end of the county, consider the Old Hickory golf course, located in Woodbridge behind the McCoart Building, right around the corner from where the Potomac Nationals play ball. Old Hickory has won many accolades, including being among the “Top 100 Must-Play Courses” by GolfStyles Washington. Old Hickory oﬀers an 18-hole championship course created by architect Tim Freeland. The course also oﬀers promotional rates and lessons, featuring a military discount rate for weekday golf games. The natural beauty of the site is a noted attracting factor for local golfers, with pines, maples and oaks dotting the landscape.
On the western end of the county, towards the Lake Manassas area, there are two well-known golf courses—Virginia Oaks Golf Club and Stonewall Golf Club. Virginia Oaks, rated one of the best golf courses to play by Golf Digest in 2008 and 2009, was designed by Pete Dye Jr. in 1995. Located in Gainesville oﬀ Interstate 66, Virginia Oaks is an 18-hole, par 71/72 challenging course that the whole family can enjoy. This course is managed by Billy Casper Golf, a Virginia golf management company. Billy Casper Golf currently operates and owns 120 golf courses nationwide and was brought in to manage the public county golf courses by the Prince William County Park Authority.
The newest golf course in the county is Stonewall, designed by Tom Jackson, and is expected to be included in the prestigious list of top 100 courses throughout the region. This publicly owned, 18- hole course is a part of the Virginia Golf Trail. The Virginia Golf Trail initiative, created by the state legislature, is a collaborative eﬀort to publicize top-notch golf courses, pairing them with local restaurants and tourist venues throughout the state of Virginia. According to Rick Washco, communications and service director for the Prince William County Park Authority, “The Virginia Golf Trail links golf courses [like Stonewall]that are three-and-a-half-star golf courses with wineries and restaurants.” Jeanna Hilton, director of sales at Stonewall Golf Club, said that despite its relative youth, Stonewall is “one of the more popular golf courses, with a Patriot Club [membership]program and ball- room for golf outings and events.”
Further down Rt. 66, golfers will ﬁnd the Bull Run Golf Club, created by Rick Jacobson, in Haymarket. Bull Run Golf Club oﬀers recreation and historical background, with the course being located near Civil War battle sites. Much like Old Hickory, Bull Run, with its 18-hole championship course, has been named one of the “100 Must-Play Courses” by GolfStyles. The course is created to be playable by golfers of all handicaps, with its wide- open fairways being kind to those of us who hit it a little crooked.
If you’re looking for waterside views when you’re on the green, then Osprey’s Golf Club, located in Woodbridge, is the course for you. The 18-hole, par 70 course, designed by Preston Caruthers and Bob Mortensen in 1997, is nestled into an area near the Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Osprey’s has undergone a “facelift” in recent years, with modiﬁcations to its layout that were made in 2000, and in 2009 earned a spot on the “Top 100 Must-Play” list in GolfStyles. And a venture near the Manassas line will bring you to Westﬁelds Golf Club, in Clifton, designed by popular pro Fred Couples. Westﬁelds has had the distinction of being named one of “America’s Top Golf Courses” by the Zagat Guide for nine consecutive years, as well as “Top 25 Must-Play,” by GolfStyles. The course has a focus on traditional elements and is set apart from distracting roadways and residential areas, so golfers can focus purely on the game.
Prince William County has also invested in golf as a viable form of recreation for its residents, with county-owned golf courses dotted all through the area. If you’re looking to tee oﬀ at one of these courses, then take a look at Forest Greens or General’s Ridge. These courses, both maintained by Billy Casper Golf, are “three-and-a-half-star, 18-hole championship courses,” said Washco. Both Forest Greens, located near Quantico and I-95, and General’s Ridge, in Manassas Park, are part of the Virginia Golf Trail, ranking at the same level of many privately run golf course facilities. Forest Greens opened its fairways to residents in 1996.
This course, created by Clyde Johnston, is 18-hole, par 72 and draws in golfers from the county and beyond, garnering a rating of four stars from Golf Digest. In addition, Forest Greens oﬀers golfers PGA instruction and lessons for all ability levels.
General’s Ridge Golf Course is a par 72 that is built in an area adjacent to some of Virginia’s rich Civil War history. The Manassas Park course oﬀers golfers an opportunity to play on a sprawling layout with excellent scenery, as well as a driving range with covered hitting bays. Like many golf courses in the county, General’s Ridge oﬀers professional instruction and lessons to golfers who are looking to step up their game. Both Forest Green and General’s Ridge are community gems, as they oﬀer golfers the opportunity to play on challenging courses, while paying an aﬀordable price.
And if you’re new to golﬁng, or you want to work on your short game, then Washco recommends nine-hole Lake Ridge Golf Course, which is also maintained and operated by the Prince William County Park Authority. This compact facility, located in Lake Ridge, allows new duﬀers the chance to play on a course without feeling the pressure of the more expensive options. It’s also ideal for those short on time who want to get in a few holes after work or on the weekend. A great place to learn the game, the Lake Ridge Golf Course also oﬀers instruction from golf experts and tournaments for local residents.
Tom Coffman in mind, and you’ll be sure to shave a few strokes off your score:
1. Don’t grip the club too tightly. The grip is our only contact with the club and the grip pressure is a big factor in the golf swing, and one that’s often overlooked. If you grip the club with a death lock, chances are you won’t allow the club to properly release. That not only robs you of power, but it also prevents the club from squaring up at impact, causing all sorts of directional problems. The forearms and shoulders tighten up, making it tough to swing fluidly. There are lots of good analogies you can use to help get an idea of the right amount of grip pressure, such as holding a tube of toothpaste without squeezing any out. If you were to try to quantify it on a scale of one to 10, think of 10 as being as tight as you can h the club and one as just barely hanging onto the club. You want to hold the club with a grip pressure of about four. That will give you a solid connection to the club and still allow you to swing properly.
2. It’s not all about your arms. To help start the backswing, try to think of it as turning your back to the target. Or, think of just putting the golf club behind your back. It’s as if you are winding up a spring before you release.
3. Alignment is often overlooked when we play golf. We can’t see how we are lined up when we play. Practice with a club on the ground between the feet and the ball; line the club up pointing towards the target. This will get the body used to lining up in the correct way.
Author Stephanie Tipple is a college student, journalist and community leader. She resides in Woodbridge. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.