Course: International Country Club
Location: Fairfax, VA
Driving Range: Yes, high quality, grass-like mats
Tee Info: Gold – 6815yds (72.8/137); Black – 6422 (71.0/133); Silver – 6046 (69.3/130); Blue – 5724 (67.9/124); White – 5180 (65.3/119)
Written By: Colin Murray
International is a country club located in near the Chantilly area of Fairfax County, VA. As a country club, it is not open to the public unless you are a guest of a member. The course would be just what you expect from a high-quality country club too: beautiful layout and in excellent condition. The course has a variety of hole types, and even some rarities: a par-5 on the opening hole, and back-to-back par 5s on holes 15 & 16. For golfers used to the Northern Virginia area, one other item of note is that there is not a single fairway that has houses lining it. Being a private course, they have used up all of their own property and the course does not wind thru neighborhoods, which is a nice change from the norm for this area.
The pro shop is a nice layout containing the typical items: apparel, clubs, balls, tees, etc. Further inside the clubhouse is a locker room, that has a lounge area with some chairs and a tv for relaxing after your round. The carts are all electric, but do not have GPS in them. The patio area outside the pro shop and clubhouse has ample seating for getting a bite to eat or drink post-round. The ninth green can be seen to the left, and the tenth tee box is directly in front, so you also have a nice view of golfers making the turn. The practice tee/driving range is one of the nicest I’ve ever seen. The “fairway” looks and is groomed like a regular fairway, and there are several “holes” with grass that is about as short as the grass on the greens, allowing you to get a good idea of where the ball would land if making an approach shot. Also, the mats are a special type of mat that react like grass does – allows you to “scoop” underneath the ball with the same feel, opposed to the hard mats that you find at most other courses.
Hole 1 is a uphill par 5 that has water on the left side of the fairway in a perfect spot to catch many tee shots (including mine). If you can bomb your driver you should be fine, but staying right of the water is optimal. Despite being uphill, it is only 471 from the tips, so long hitters may not even need a driver off the tee if it helps take the water out of play. A 3W or long iron approach shot will either have you on the green in two, or around 50yds out and a short chip for GIR. Hole 4 is a longer par 3 with bunkers on each side of the green to catch any misses. There is fairway length grass just short of the green, so if you don’t reach the green you should be okay. Going long is okay, too, but the green slopes back to front more than it appears. The 5th hole is the shortest part 4 on the course, and plays downhill. The longest of hitters can grip and rip, but keep your tee shot to the right as water runs along the left side. The green is two-tiered, so be aware of pin position when choosing to putt or chip from the fringe. International’s signature hole is the par 4 6th, which plays no more than 400yds. It gets the 1hdcp for the large pond directly in front of the green, which offers few bail-out chances if your tee shot is not long enough. The fairway runs out with about 100yds left, so plan accordingly. The fairway is uphill from the tee box, and if your tee shot doesn’t reach the crest, you’ll have a totally blind approach, where you’ll likely need to hit a short pitch before attempting to clear the pond. The green slopes sharply from back to front, and is protected by bunkers in the back as well.
The tenth hole is a dogleg left that turns a full 90-degrees in the middle of the fairway. Long hitters can cut the corner by aiming directly over it, or you can play the safe shot and hit a long iron straight down the middle, which leaves you with about 150yds to go. The green is well bunkered, and plays slightly uphill. Hole 11 is a short par 3 playing very downhill, so know your club selection. The green is large and accommodating, but the rough is thick which makes for difficult chips. Holes 15 and 16 are back-to-back par 5s, playing 558 & 601 from the tips, respectively, so even long hitters are likely playing it as 3 shots into the green. Trees line most of 15, while 16 is a bit more open, but still narrow. A creek protects the end of the fairway to the green on 15, and the green is narrow from back to front. Fairway bunkers guard the approach on 16, but the green is more approachable with few hazards to worry about. The finishing hole is a slight dogleg left par 4, with your tee shot needing to navigate a narrow tree-lined fairway. A large pond borders the left side, and approach shots from the left must carry the water. Thankfully, the green is large and is easily reached with a good strike.
International was a fun course to play, despite the randomness of back-to-back par 5s on holes 15 & 16. I like things more spread out, personally. The course necessitated strategy at times, but even if you are playing from the tips, using driver off the tee is not required for many holes. Proceed with caution for the few holes with water, but take advantage of the scoring opportunities.