Stonewall Golf Club Gainesville, Virginia

April, 2002
Stonewall Golf Club Website

Pro Shop
7
Tee Boxes
7
Yardage Markers
9
Attendants
7
Range
9
Fairways
8
Pace of Play
9
Starter
8
Practice Green
9
Rough
7
Scenery
9
Marshals
8
Chipping Green
9
Greens
8
Architecture
9
PGA Pro
9
Carts
8
Bunkers
8
Challenge
8
Pro Shop Staff
8
Restaurant
8
Water Hazards
8
19th Hole
8
Overall:
8
Overall:
8
Overall:
9
Overall:
8

REVIEW:
Upscale daily-fee golf courses are nothing new to the DC area. So why the need for yet another one? The answer is simple, very few golf management companies have gotten it right. It seems that “upscale daily fee” or “country club for a day” might have well say “above average course, with high greens fees and 5 1/2 hour rounds.” Not that these courses are geared for the budget golfer, but there has to be more than just good course with polite staff for a golf club to really be worthy of this designation.

The new Stonewall Golf Club has opened and shows us what great upscale daily fee golf is all about. For starters, the developers managed to find 400 acres of Virginia countryside that seem tailor made for a golf course. This meaning, rolling hills with undulating elevation, all wrapped around Lake Manassas with majestic views throughout. Next, careful attention was given to incorporating the lands natural contours rather than bulldozing mound after mound and forcing “signature holes.” Architect Tom Jackson, who has made quite a name for himself with his designs in the Carolinas and Georgia, clearly has no trouble adapting to the more northern latitude with his first effort in the Dominion.

The formula is more complex that just starting with a great piece of land and designing a nice course on it. The course superintendent, Ed Long, comes to Stonewall from stints at South Riding, Pleasant Valley and Robert Trent Jones Golf Club. What all three of these courses have in common is that they are all relatively new courses. So, it is no surprise that for a course that was opened this past September, Stonewall is in great condition. More importantly, it will only get better as it is allowed to mature. Director of Golf, Robert Ford is a seasoned veteran in golf course operations. Having spent time at Pelican Hill, Oak Creek Golf Club, and Moreno Valley Ranch Golf Club. It was clear that operations were running like clockwork, even at this upstart golf course. Both Ed Long and Robert Ford know that they have something special at Stonewall and it shows.

Unlike a lot of new courses these days, Stonewall clearly didn’t cut corners or try too open soon. And while a course need to be profitable, it is obvious that Western Golf Properties was focused on building a premier venue first and foremost knowing that a blue chip product will eventually attract the revenue.

The practice facilities are top notch, grass tees, expansive bunkers/short game areas, and a large putting green. However, for a course with a generous greensfee, range balls really should be gratis.

The course starts with a few orthodox, yet well designed holes. From the third fairway, the first glimpse of Lake Manassas comes in to view. The fourth hole is the first of four par 3’s which are as good of a set as you will find anywhere. The hole plays about 200 yards over a waste area that must be carried all the way to the green. Shorter hitters can bail out to a small landing area on the right side. However, the green slopes away towards the water from the landing area making this a difficult up and down.

The fifth hole is arguably the best par four on the front nine, playing along the lake’s shoreline to a slightly elevated green. A solid drive will set up a short iron on the green, but a premium is placed on landing on the right part of this hog-backed putting surface which is also well guarded with bunkers. The par five sixth is another magnificent hole. Even the longest of drives may require a lay-up to the peninsula green. A water hazard starts to invade the right side fairway 50 yards shy of the green and creeps up to a stone wall that acts as a pedestal to the green. These stone walls are a recurring theme and really start to give the course some character and an identity.

It’s Déjà vu at the par three, 7th hole. Another signature hole in which a stone wall supports the water surrounded green. As on the 6th, water encapsulates the green from the center and wrapping around to the right. The front none is rounded out by two solid par 4’s that lead back to the clubhouse.

Standing on the 10th tee box, Stonewalls strengths are self-evident. From this commanding vantage point you can see clear down the inlet that leads to Lake Manassas which is lined with the majority of the back nines strongest holes. After a pair of par 4’s and another par 3, the par 5 13th comes in to play. Requiring a tee shot over a cavernous drop to the inlet below, the hole takes a sharp turn left running high along the top of the bank leading out to Lake Manassas.

The term “fairway bunker” has never rung truer than on this hole. A deep sand trap placed directly in the middle of the short grass makes for a critical decision on the second shot, a true risk reward scenario. Once navigated, the par four 14th continues to run along the bank out to Lake Manassas. Landing in the fairway on the 15th, will set up what may be the most memorable shot of the day. A mid-length approach shot to a green that seems to hover on Lake Manassas. Once on the green, there is nothing but unspoiled vistas of the lake in every direction.The 16th starts golfers back towards the clubhouse and sets up a truly great finishing stretch.

Tom Jackson saved the best par three for last at the 17th. Depending on the wind coming off the lake from far behind the tee box, this hole requires a prudent iron selection. Completely surrounded with bunkers, even hitting the green will not guarantee par. The green is fairly large and slopes from down from a shelf in the back to the front with a steep grade making for some treacherous lag putts.

Coming down the home stretch, the 18th is one of the DC area’s premier finishing holes. At the lowest elevation on the course, there are views in every direction starting at the clubhouse drawing around to the above holes that wrap the entire 18th from tee and green.

There were smiles all around on the 18th green as our group exchanged handshakes. The round at Stonewall was coming to an end, just under 4 hours after it began. After spending the day at Stonewall, the most notable thing about the course is that it does all things very well. From the live sports ticker in each cart, to a full-scale restaurant with a chef who hails from one of DC’s finest restaurants. If it’s a country club for a day experience you are seeking, look no further than Stonewall Golf Club. It exemplifies upscale daily fee golf in the DC area.

RATING:
GolfTest USA recommends Stonewall Golf Club as an “Elite” golf course in the Washington, DC area.

Elite Course:
The best the area has to offer
Must Play Course:
Don’t miss playing here
Quality Course:
Good solid track
Average Course:
A standard golf experience
Only in a Pinch:
Below average golf