Our Brandon Mumaw had a chance to stop by a newish Nicklaus course in Dumfries, Virginia. He was gracious in writing this review of the course, and supplied a fair number of images of holes, the community, and even of himself! Have a read, and look the course up when you’re in the Washington D.C. area.
Potomac Shores Golf Club is a new golf course, just half a decade old. Located 30 miles south of Washington D.C., it is reachable from nearly anywhere. This Jack Nicklaus-designed, public track is situated just far enough south of the city limits to avoid the I-95 backup. Combining the view of the Potomac River with the wooded forests, you’ll truly experience all of what Northern Virginia has to offer. The course played just over 7,000 yards from the back tees, but because of the change in elevation from tee to green, it played much less. All the par 3s play 1-2 clubs less. It’s no easy task judging your tee shots at Potomac Shores, especially on holes #8 and #9.
The moment you enter the newly built community of Potomac Shores, you realize this is a special place. The Potomac Shores Golf Club is just one of the many amenities this new community has to offer to its residents. You’ll find beautiful new homes, a state-of-the-art recreation and social center, a community pool, sport fields, and of course the only Jack Nicholas Signature Design course in Northern Virginia.
It was a sunny and 80-degree Monday morning as I approached the club house of Potomac Shores. I was a little surprised I didn’t see more cars in the parking lot, but then again, it wasn’t a business day for me like it was for most people. The course opened for play in 2014 and has seen a handful of renovations/improvements ever since, with an overhaul of bunkers and newly upgraded fairways being the most recent projects.
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From the clubhouse, I was overlooking the #1 tee and #18 green, and I could tell from the rolling fairways and plush greens I was in for a real treat. #8 plays only 305 yards, but you’re facing 5 different bunkers between you and the pin. The view from the tee box on #9 is like no other. Your tee shot plays straight down hill and you can’t miss left or right as you have the natural Virginia woods tightly hugging the fairway on either side. Even though as you stand a top the tee box you think you can carry the bunker on the left side, the play is straight down the middle.
The course doesn’t get any easier on the back 9. You start off the back 9 with the #2 handicap hole, a 575-yard par 5. Again, yet another hole that is deceiving from the tee box. It seems you can cut off the corner of the dog leg right, but the play off the tee is dead straight. If you’re fortunate enough to be in the fairway after your tee shot, you’ll be looking straight down hill to a green that is protected by three very tall and narrow trees. This is the shot I remember most at Potomac Shores.
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Fortunately for me, I was playing golf with Potomac Shores first ever member, Barry. Barry sensed I was trying to reach the par 5 in two and let me know how I could do so from 280 yards out. The three trees are about 50 yards in front of the green and the fairway splits to either side of the trees. Barry told me to play a 220 club to the right of the trees and let the rolling fairways take care of the rest. Even though I wanted to carry a shot straight over the trees, I trusted my veteran playing partner. I aimed about 20 yards right of the trees and let my 4-iron fly. My ball hit the right side of the fairway and funneled right on to the front of the green, putting for eagle!
As you get just over halfway through the back 9 you face the shortest of the par 3s at Potomac Shores. Hole #15 plays just 135 yards, but even shorter because all the par 3s play from an elevated tee box. Another great chance to take in the gorgeous views of the Virginia land. Even though the course is right along the Potomac River, you won’t find much water coming into play, but you will find an abundance of wooded areas, which must look even more beautiful as the leaves change in the Fall. If you’re not careful with your tee shot on #15, you’ll find yourself searching for your ball in the woods behind the green. This green is the narrowest of all greens at Potomac Shores. At just 22 paces, you really have to know your distance off the tee. Making things even more challenging, Potomac Shores recently took out the bunker that was previously your safety net directly behind the green. Now, if you happen to fly the green, your ball will kick off the downslope right into the woods. Even with a bunker protecting the green in the front, you’re better off missing short in the front bunker, then long and into the woods.
The course wasn’t built for walkers, but surely was built for all other golfers. Thanks to the recent course improvement projects, the course plays fair, firm, and fast. When you’re visiting down south, be sure to check out the course that has continually been highly rated by since opening in 2014. For information on recent bunker and fairway renovations, Click Here.
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