Kingsmill is Fore Golf Lovers | Kingsmill Resort, Williamsburg VAKingsmill is Fore Golf Lovers | Kingsmill Resort, Williamsburg VA
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Kingsmill is Fore Golf Lovers

As host of the LPGA and with its three world-class courses, the resort is the golf leader in the Williamsburg, Va., area. Judy Rankin knows more than a little about what makes a great golf course. She won 26 LPGA events and is a member of the LPGA Hall of Fame. So last year when […]

Kingsmill Resort,

As host of the LPGA and with its three world-class courses, the resort is the golf leader in the Williamsburg, Va., area.

Judy Rankin knows more than a little about what makes a great golf course. She won 26 LPGA events and is a member of the LPGA Hall of Fame.

So last year when Rankin, a longtime television analyst, called Kingsmill Resort's River Course worthy of hosting a U.S. Women's Open it was more than just another compliment. She wasn't alone among the admirers at the LPGA Kingsmill Championship. "It feels like a step above everything else that we play. It's about as close to a major as we're going to get that's not a major," said Angela Stanford, a 17-year tour veteran. That's why the May event attracts the best of the LPGA to a course that for 22  years hosted PGA events won by Lanny Wadkins, David Duval, David Toms, Notay Begay III and other stars.

But the celebrated River Course, designed by Pete Dye, is hardly the only option to enjoy 18 holes at Kingsmill, a AAA Four Diamond condominium resort on the James River. The Plantation Course, an Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay design, challenges players of all skill levels. Members, who pay a $20,000 initiation fee and monthly dues, have exclusive access to the Woods Course, a Tom Clark and Curtis Strange design that plays around ravines, wanders through woodlands and edges up to lakes and wetlands.

For those who do not live by golf alone, add a lavish, recently renovated spa, pools, tennis courts, a marina with lots of recreational toys, and three superb and eclectic dining choices.  Include an award-winning golf instructor and academy, and together they make Kingsmill one of the landmark golf destinations along the Atlantic coast. And it's only getting better. Escalante Golf, Kingsmill's new owners, hired a new Director of Agronomy along with new  superintendents from their other courses, including The Golf Club of Houston, home of the PGA Tour’s Houston Open and Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, site of the Web.com Tour to create a best practices plan ensuring the courses are at their best every day, day after day.

The Courses

The River Course is 6,831 yards and bordered by the James River features elevation changes and one great view after another. It's ranked by Golf Digest as one of the best courses in the state. "Beautifully conditioned, well maintained, accommodating staff and one heckuva layout, make the River a great destination," says a writer for the Golf Channel. Others rave about the closing holes. "Its first 15 holes are very good and its last three are spectacular," adds a Golf Digest reviewer. "The 17th is a stunning par 3 by the water."

The 17th is the course's signature hole. The deep green is about 50 yards deep. But the wind coming off the James River on your left makes hitting the green difficult. A pot bunker and mounding frame the hole. There's no bailout.

But the 17th is also noteworthy as the most historic 177 yards of golf in America. Thanks to its strategic position overlooking the James River, the tee box features clearly visible remnants of the earthen works (a hastily made fort or defensive structure) from the American Revolution, which was then repurposed in the War Between the States. Today a Civil War cannon and flag guard this sacred ground. But well before that struggle — or the early settlers who arrived at this very shoreline in search of a new home — Native Americas lived here and enjoyed the oysters that are still plentiful and being served up at the 19th hole. Today, when golfers walk between the tee box and the green at the 17th hole, they are stepping on the same land where the Jamestown settlers stepped off their boat in 1607. Those settlers would later sail upriver and start what is now the United States of America at Jamestown.

The Plantation Course is 6,432-yards with generous fairway landing areas and large greens, but there is water, water everywhere. It comes into play on eight holes. "It has some stunning holes on it, with ravines, undulating fairways lined with dense forests, elevated greens, lovely ponds and streams, and a few wetland or environmental areas," says GolfLink. On the Plantation Course, the fourth hole requires precision off the tee with water on the left and out of bounds on the right. It's a hole that plays with your head, as does the entire course.

The Woods Course is only for members. "Hand-cleared to preserve its mature beech and oak trees, the Woods is a 6,784-yard charmer," raved a Golf magazine editor. "The fairways stretch nearly to the tree lines, enhancing play-ability. As at Augusta National, the rough is cut short, which saves the bother of hunting for stray balls in long grass."

That charm includes the double green with a bunker in the center shared by the par-3 12th hole and the par-4 15th hole. Water fronts the green on the 12th while bunkers loom ominously around the 15th, making each a challenge.

Beyond the fairways and the greens, Kingsmill is the perfect place to up your game. Have your skills assessed by a Kingsmill coach or sign up for a class with PGA pro Chris George, one of the inaugural instructors of the Golf Channel Academy.

The Restaurants

Elements 1010 is the resort's flagship restaurant. Begin with a signature cocktail like a Manhattan on the James or a Liquid Sunset paying homage to the view. Then ponder selections ranging from caramelized Outer Banks scallops with lemon herb risotto, wilted arugula and a lobster and red pepper bisque to braised lamb shank with white truffle mashed potatoes, roasted root vegetables, and Shiraz caramel.

Eagles is a more casual spot to bridge the time between a day on the course and another memorable evening at the resort. You'll find lunch and dinner here with options like chicken pesto pizza, a selection of burgers, wraps, and sandwiches, and entrees like steak and potatoes and pan-seared catch of the day.

Open seasonally, the James Landing Grille is the best place to chill, as Williamsburg’s only riverfront restaurant. Revel in the sunset while savoring local oysters on the half shell, grilled local fish, and farm-to-table vegetables as well as sublime cocktails, beer, and wine.

What could be better than ending a day on the course with a relaxing meal as the sun sets over the James River?

Written By: Elizabeth Grimes

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