Tees: White (In front of tips)
Weather: High 70’s and Sunny
Written By: Colin Murray
Rating: At bottom of Review
Brambleton is a regional park, owned and operated by Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. Because of the regional park distinction and because of the pricey competitor golf courses in the area, it tends to have a “municipal” course feel to it, and a couple of years ago the condition of the course would fit that. However, in the last two years it has undergone new management (including a new golf course superintendant), and the course has made a great turnaround. The greens and fairways are well kept by management, but you do find the occasional stray ball-marks on greens that have not been repaired. For the most part, this course is open, at least to one side of each fairway, and only two holes have water in play. There are several holes though where tree-lined fairways force you to be accurate off the tee. Some of the tree areas are open enough underneath to find your ball, but not to hit out of it, so you’re forced to take a drop. The carts are gas and do not have GPS. The one con to this course is there is no sign for daily pin positions and the course does not use the color-coding system, so with some holes you are unable to tell exactly where the pin is. One tip to keep in mind: the rough here is THICK, and I emphasize that. If your ball is sitting down, you likely want to take two clubs more to get a good stroke on the ball, otherwise you’ll chunk it 75yds or less and be hitting again from the rough.
The pro-shop is not much of a shop, since all they really sell are the last-minute items people will get just before a round: gloves, balls, & tees. This is not a higher-end course run by private management though, so having a good selection of clubs is not something they need to offer. The grill offers standard fare of hot dogs/hamburgers, and prices are reasonable. There is a driving range with approximately 15 boxes, but it is not long: it runs out just beyond 200yds. I have not actually hit on it, but buckets are $8.50/large. There is a small chipping area, and a larger practice putting green that is in good condition.
The first hole is a nice warm-up. Playing in front of the tips (White), yardage is only 378, and is very straight, with only two greenside bunkers on the back edge of each side that are not very worrisome. Trees do line the far left side, so if you draw/hook, aim further right off the tee. A straight tee and straight approach should easily put you GIR. Hole 2 is one of the several on t his course with a fairly sharp dog-leg. This one favors those who fade/slice, as if you aim far enough left, your ball will sail over and around the trees, giving you an easy approach. Hole 5 is the sharpest dog-leg, where the only real play off the tee is with an iron, since it will leave you only 150 out with a good look at a green that is hidden from the tee. There is a flag in the middle of the fairway as your aim-spot, but you can go well left of that to get a bit closer (the flag is just under 200yds out). Hole 6 is wet along the entire left side, so aim right. It is very possible to carry most of the water with a 240yd tee shot, and as long as you stay dry, you will have an open look to a downhill green with no bunkers. Hole 7 is the hardest on the course for good reason: the length (545 from the White); a tree-lined fairway; a creek that is about 100yds short of the green; and the uphill green is to the left-side, forcing players whose tee shots land fairway-left to lay-up before the creek since trees will block any carry opportunities. Accuracy is a must on this hole for every shot, especially off the tee. You will need to be exceptionally long off the tee and solid with a 3-wood in order to have any chance at reaching in two. However, there is a large enough landing area short of the green across the creek that you can aim for that will give you an easy pitch to the green.
Hole 10 is reminiscent of Hole 1, except that trees are on the right side (the holes parallel each other so that makes sense). There are two large greenside bunkers, one front-left, the other beyond the green for any over-hits. Hole 12 is a short downhill par-3, but with a lot of water in front. Just be sure to make good connection with your tee, since any mis-hits will end up wet. Hole 14 is a good scoring hole, since it is a relatively short (357 from White), straight par-4. The green is tricky tho, as it is two-tiered with the front side being the low-end. Definitely want to make sure you know where the pin is before your approach; if the pin is in back, take the extra club to ensure you don’t come up short with a difficult putt. Hole 16 is another sharp dog-leg right, and as with Hole 2 if you position your tee shot properly you’ll have a short approach. Using 3-wood instead of driver is a smart play. The finishing hole is an open par-5 that plays 500 from the Whites. The fairway curves slightly left as it approaches the green, and unless you hook your tee, the trees on the far left won’t be in play. Long hitters can definitely reach in two here, so if your tee is straight and long enough you’ll be setup perfectly. One point of caution: there are three greenside bunkers (left, right, back) that are ready to catch those who go for it but miss.
This course has improved quality-wise over the last couple of years, and makes for a fun day. There are plenty of scoring chances here, since despite the dog-legs many of the par-4s are short. Unless you are consistently accurate off the tee, I would recommend making sure you have a few extra balls with you, since you’ll likely lose a few to the woods or water. There are numerous water-stations along the course to refill your water bottle or to take a quick drink using the paper cups provided, but there is no cart-girl here. Not that any course allows you to bring in alcohol from off-site, but since it is a Regional Park, alcohol is prohibited.