NEW KENT, Va. -- Just a few weeks after his squad fell to Stanford in the championship game of the National Invitational Tournament at Madison Square Garden, University of Minnesota basketball coach Tubby Smith was relaxing with a round of golf at The Club at Viniterra near Richmond.
Though his team's season had just ended, Smith said he was already excited about the Gophers' chances of competing for a Big Ten Championship in 2013. As for his golf, Smith's round at Viniterra was his third since the season ended. The coach who led Kentucky to a national championship in 1998 said he was still working out the kinks. Nevertheless, Smith was certain he had found his favorite new course in the southeast.
"This Viniterra golf course reminds me of our upcoming Minnesota team," Smith said. "Young but maturing fast. It's a beautiful golf course with wonderful views that offers players of all talent levels a challenge but was fun to play. Viniterra is one of the best new courses anywhere and I look forward to playing again soon."
Viniterra (www.Viniterra.com) is a private, gated community of luxury estate home sites and resort cottages in the Virginia's New Kent Vineyards Development. Centrally located between Richmond and Williamsburg, just off Interstate 64's Exit 211 in New Kent County, Viniterra offers easy access to the Mid-Atlantic's urban areas, the North Carolina Outer Banks, the James, York and Rappahannock Rivers, the Chesapeake Bay, and endless beautiful Virginia countryside.
Constructed for today's modern golfer, Viniterra opened to rave reviews and recently welcomed public play. Viniterra plans to break ground on a new 12,000-square-foot clubhouse next year and anticipates a 2014 opening. Meanwhile, Viniterra's spectacular layout is already considered not only one of the best in the Commonwealth State, but also among the finest in the storied career of golf course architect Rees Jones.
Viniterra hearkens back to an earlier era of golf course design and feels as if it has been around far longer than its three years since opening in September 2009. Said the man known as the "U.S. Open Doctor": "When you design and build a golf course an architect can only hope it matures with the type of consistent progression we've enjoyed at Viniterra."
Viniterra member Rich Rhodes enjoys golf vacations at some of the finest ports along the southeast coast, but says when he arrives to most resort courses he is invariably disappointed. "Viniterra is a better layout and it's in better condition than anything around Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head," Rhodes said. "We've got it made here."
Adds another Viniterra member Mary George: "It's like being on a vacation." Mary and her husband, Rowland George, have played some of the world's best golf designs in all corners of the globe including Scotland and Ireland. They say Viniterra reminds them most of — and compares favorably to — Spain's renowned Valderrama, host site of the 1997 Ryder Cup matches.
"There's just something about both places, when you stand up on the tee box and look out, every hole is framed so well," said Rowland George. "There are no tricked up holes at either golf course. What you see is what you get. I really think at Viniterra, almost every hole would be a signature hole on most courses. The way they keep it maintained, the greens are always so good and fast and true, and it's so playable."
The Rowland's joined Viniterra in November 2011 after purchasing a home a mile away in the Boddie-Noell sister development called Four Seasons. They were looking for a maintenance-free, single-family villa home in a community they describe, not as 55 and older, but 55 "and better." On days when the Rowland's aren't playing 18 holes, they will walk to Viniterra's extensive golf practice area. "We get our exercise and we get to work on our games," said Mary.
Rees Jones said he designed Viniterra primarily for the average player. While Viniterra does stretch to more than 7,700 yards and sits ready to host any top-tier professional or amateur tournament right now, it is most commonly played around 6,100 yards.
Boddie-Noell's Kitty Hawk Land Company - which also collaborated with Jones on the Currituck Club at the Outer Banks of North Carolina - provided him the ideal land of the New Kent Vineyards Project's expansive rugged terrain to build the golf course, and Jones responded by finding an appropriate balance between the 18 holes that best fit the property and still offering premium home sites for the residents.
"We've designed this golf course for everybody," Jones said. "We've got length for the bombers and shorter tees for those who don't hit it very far. This is a thinking person's golf course — all about shot options with multiple tees and multiple green approaches. Fun if you play the right set of tees. A wonderful challenging examination the farther back one ventures."
Rowland George recently took his 7-year-old grandson around Viniterra for the boy's first 11 holes of golf. "He loved every minute of it," Rowland said. "And of course, Mary and I enjoy the weekly games with the men and ladies that the staff pulls together. They just provide such good service for us. Everything is customer oriented and top notch."
Martin Armes, 919-608-7260, firstname.lastname@example.org
Brad King, 336-306-9219, email@example.com