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Old Hickory Golf Club in Northern Virginia comes with a sense of privilege

Katharine DysonBy Katharine Dyson,
Special Contributor
Old Hickory Golf Club - Hole 4
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The peninsula green at Old Hickory Golf Club on hole No. 4 challenges you to crank out your power fade. (Courtesy of Old Hickory G.C.)

Ever since the course opened in 2006, Old Hickory Golf Club in Woodbridge, Va., has become a must-play for those teeing up in northern Virginia.

Like its name, which is derived from the hickory shafts used by golf legends such as Old Tom Morris from Scotland, this semi-private club has a sense of the well heeled usually associated with established private clubs. You are, after all, in horse country where long white-board fences, meadows and grazing horses set the scene.

Remington-style bronze sculptures are located throughout the gracious turn-of-the-century clubhouse, and enormous heads of moose and elk hang on the wall contributing to the clubby ambiance.

Located near the Occoquan Reservoir, Old Hickory Golf Club, 45 minutes from our nation's capitol, is one of the prettiest parkland-style tracks in Prince William County with tall stands of pine, oak, maple and hickory defining the routing, which sensibly follows the terrain.

Old Hickory Golf Club: The layout

In designing the layout, Tim Freeland, who has worked with Gary Player, flowed the course gently over the land.

Bisected by Beaver Creek, nine holes to the north, nine to the south, Freeland explained, "We didn't have to move any earth at all; the holes just set down into their site naturally." Freeland also incorporated tributaries running off Beaver Creek into the layout.

You start off with a friendly par-4, gentle, downhill, 340-yard hole, then rachet up the difficulty on the next hole where a waterfall to the left of the tee flows under the tee running into a lake on the right.

Added interest comes with elevation changes and elevated tee boxes giving you a good look at what's ahead. And there are plenty of challenges and opportunities to pull out all the shots in your bag.

There are a couple of straight forward par 5s that can be reached in two by big hitters, such as hole No. 3, 532 yards, where you're facing a 40-story drop from tee to green and a split fairway on the approach to the green.

Old Hickory Golf Club's fourth hole, notable for its well bunkered peninsula green, and tucked into the right between bunkers, tempts you to crank up your power fade.

Fairways, for the most part, have generous, open landing areas with some mounding causing your balls to bounce back towards the center should you hit to the side. Bunkers are found on each hole, but this is not a course with unrelentless bunker complexes.

There are several roll-up greens, but you need to take heed of false fronts. For example, hole No. 6 can roll back off the front if you don't place it well, and on hole No. 9, balls tend to collect in the dip in front of the green.

An exception is Old Hickory Golf Club's par-3 13th hole, one of Freeland's favorites, playing downhill 182 yards then up to a well bunkered elevated green.

And so it goes right up to the par-5 No. 18, a strong contender for the toughest hole in northern Virginia at 630 yards. It's a superb finishing hole.

Old Hickory Golf Club: The verdict

Playing Old Hickory Golf Club for the first time, Willie Simmons, who heads up the North Carolina Minority Junior Golf Scholarship Association (www.ncmjgsa.org) said, "So far I like what I see. Oh hell yes. I'd come back and play here every day if I could."

With annual dues running about $4,500, the club attracts upscale golfers looking for an affordable club with more bells and whistles than the local munis. However, there is no pool or tennis. Old Hickory is purely a golf-oriented club.

Head Professional Troy Reynolds said, "In addition to a great golf course and green fees, our members get monthly events and many services of a private club." There is an on-course snack cart, attractive locker rooms, restaurant and bar.

Bentgrass fairways and lightning-fast bent grass greens are meticulously maintained in spite of the fact that Old Hickory Golf Club gets a lot of play. And with nine minutes between tee times, the pace of play is comfortable.

Playing 7,077 yards to 5.143 yards (the forward tee is named "raspberry"), with four sets of tees, Old Hickory plays to all levels. We're happy to see the whites at 5,980 yards rated for both men and women.

"My friends prefer playing the whites, so we're glad they rated them for us," said Allison, a local member.

Although there are some homes in sight — and these are impressively huge on two- to three-acre lots — Old Hickory is not a golf course development, and most of the houses are located on the high side of the course. Still, homeowners in the area do get 20 percent off their membership and dues.

Clinics, lessons and junior instruction are offered in conjunction with the Raspberry Golf Academy at Old Hickory. Well equipped, the academy has two covered teaching bays, a launch monitor, video analysis, a 3-D technology system and fitting system.

Green fees at Old Hickory Golf Club range from $55 to $75 including a cart.

Old Hickory is also one of the home clubs for the Executive Women's Golf Association.

Old Hickory's clubhouse is the venue for many special events including weddings and corporate outings. Facilities can accommodate up to 250 people. Its restaurant offers an extensive menu with exotic items such as bison, moose and elk (no relation to the heads on the walls).

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Old Hickory Golf Club

Katharine Dyson is a golf and travel writer for several national publications as well as guidebook author and radio commentator. Her journeys have taken her around the world playing courses and finding unique places to stay. She is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, Metropolitan Golf Writers of America; Golf Travel Writers Organization and Society of American Travel Writers. Follow Katharine on Twitter at @kathiegolf.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

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