Rock Harbor Golf Course

Rock Harbor Located just outside of Winchester off of I-81 is one of the Shenandoah Valley’s true gems-Rock Harbor Golf Course. A participant of the VSGA program, for the cost of a cart ($26) we played “The Rock” course which is the original part of the golf course which now has 27 holes fully operational and a few others that can be played as part of the “Boulder Course” which should be completed by next summer giving the course a 36 hole tract. The first time I played the course, which was several years ago, I was amazed at the amount of work must have been involved in moving the huge boulders, creating the lakes, spectacular tee-boxes and enormous greens. The additional holes that have been added are stunning! The 200 yd. 17th hole par 3, that must have a 200’ elevation drop to a heart-shaped green, is breath-taking with expansive views of the valley. Each hole is unique with many challenges including elevation changes, risk-reward options, water-hazards, well- placed bunkers, a formidable rough, undulating massive greens, cinder-waste areas and random boulders, but clearly a fair course that is well-maintained and visually appealing. I always look forward to returning to Rock Harbor, not just for the golf, but the Rock Harbor Grill is one of my absolute favorite 19th holes of any of the 100+ courses I’ve played in Virginia. Susie, one of the managers in the grill,  welcomed us in the morning and three of us chose a country ham, egg and cheese sandwich on rye-which was definitely the best breakfast sandwich I’ve had all year. The ham was cooked to perfection, not too salty and complimented with a slice of cheddar cheese it was a great way to start the day. As I explained to Susie,  in my world golf is just an excuse to eat, and we would be back at the end of our round, she concurred with the suggestion from Ava’s mom that the crab-cake sandwich would be a great choice for lunch. My round was a “If I could only make a putt” round, that featured 12 bogies, over half of which involved a missed putt that burned the edge of the cup. Oh well, it is a game of inches! Thankfully, I had the vision of crab-cake sandwiches to sustain me as I plodded my way around the course. My foursome finished well ahead of the other foursome that was part of our group, so we headed into the Grill. As advised, I ordered the crab-cake sandwich. Served on a soft Kaiser roll, with a tarter-sauce blend that added just the right amount of flavor to a sandwich that was mostly crab meat with little filler, and that any Chesapeake Bay seafood eatery would be proud to call their signature sandwich; it was worth the potential for a gout flare-up I sometimes get from seafood. While teeing off on 16, one of the course marshalls recommended the “Rock Club”, essentially a club sandwich, but with chicken salad to compliment the ham and bacon. All four who ordered the sandwich were impressed by the great chicken salad twist to the old classic and the size of the sandwich. I left more impressed than ever with this great eatery, which has won numerous local restaurant awards, and the friendly staff that makes even us hackers feel most welcome. I’ll be back soon and so should you, as Rock Harbor gets my first 5 star rating this season for both the course and the food! Wow and Yum!

Food:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Course:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Staff:5 Stars (5 / 5)

Spring Creek Golf Club, Zion’s Crossroad, Va.

IMG_0727Spring Creek, near Charlottesville, Virginia On Tuesday afternoon, amid the searing 100 degree heat, I joined three friends to return to one of my favorite courses in Virginia, Spring Creek. Located just off Rt 64 on Rt 15 in Zion’s Crossroads, the course had just hosted the Virginia Amateur Championships the previous weekend. As if the course is not challenging enough, the rough and pin placements added an additional level of difficulty that would have tested my best play. The fact that on this particular day it appeared that I had never swung a club in my life, to quote Tiger, “I had to grind my way around the course”. I can assure you that my version of “grinding” is more accurately described, as the “wheels fell completely off”, considering that after 3 holes I was 11 over par. Things got slightly better, as I finished the last six holes, six over for my worst of the summer 53 on the front nine. Unfortunately the back nine was as dreadful as the front, as I couldn’t find a fairway, hit a green or make a putt; generally not a great formula to avoid embarrassing oneself. My deprecating self-talk would have caused most golfers to quit the game all together, but apparently I’m a masochist and will return to humiliate myself again, soon I hope. Golf keeps you humble, which is a good thing I keep telling myself. Despite the horrific round (BTW none of the group played anywhere near their handicaps) the course was a visual delight; immaculately maintained, spectacular layout, incredible views and my first glimpse of the new clubhouse overlooking number 18 ; which is amazing and fitting for this great tract. The old “shed” will soon be gone (approximately three weeks according to the guys in the pro-shop). I’ll reserve any critique of the clubhouse food until I return to play when the new clubhouse is open. I did grab a hotdog at the start of the round which was grilled and pretty darn good. If you haven’t played Spring Creek you should really book a tee-time. The course has attempted to become a private course, which I understand it is on the weekends, but at $60 during the week it is well worth it. Unfortunately, they are clearing a large area adjacent to the back nine for homes to be built that will dramatically change the visual sense that you are away from the city. Despite this, as long as the course is well-maintained it will still be an enjoyable place to play, and the new clubhouse will be a great addition. Play it now, or be ready to join.

Wounded Warrior Tournament

wounded warrior projectI had the honor of playing in the Annual Wounded Warrior Golf Tournament at Lake of the Woods, Va. on Saturday, June 15th. The event featured 23 teams and raised over $7,000 for the Quantico Chapter of the Wounded Warrior’s Project. I play in many charitable golf outings during the year, all very worthwhile causes; however, this particular one that honors those courageous young men and women who have placed their country above their own safety needs, always touches me in a very profound way. It was a spectacular day, low humidity, clear skies, and moderate temperatures. My foursome consisted of myself, Gordon and octogenarian who’s is consistent as they come and when he wasn’t draining the first put as our lead-off putter, always gave us a clear line of the break of the putt. Dave, one of the most consistent golfers I play with, and the Lake of the Woods Club Champion in the past and always a contender and Sandy, who in addition to being the most accomplished golfer here at Lake of the Woods, I discovered is also money in the clutch- as she always split the fairway when her teammates were looking for their balls in the woods. She was won the long-drive competition in the tournament as well. My major contribution to the team was my uncanny ability to select great teammates!! We started the round with 1 eagle, 9 birdies, and 1 par making us 11 under through the first 11 holes. We stalled out with five consecutive tap-in pars in a row- before righting the ship with back-to back birdies on the last two holes to finish with a 58 and a 2 stroke margin for the victory!! The luncheon that followed was a classic make-your-own Dagwood Sandwich (for those old enough to remember Blondie & Dagwood) with potato salad, chips, etc. The ladies (Claretta, Mae and the rest) always do an outstanding job with outing and providing quick meals at the turn or when the round is over. The club pro, Rea Hardgrave is always a great host and those who were responsible for securing the many hole sponsors and players should all be commended for an outstanding tribute to the brave men and women in our armed forces.

Food:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Course:3 Stars (3 / 5)
Staff:4 Stars (4 / 5)