Rees Jones strikes gold again at Golden Horseshoe Golf Club

August 31, 2017

Legendary historical names are indelibly linked to Colonial Williamsburg. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry all logged serious time here in Virginia’s Tidewater region during the run-up to independence. Of similar legend—at least in golf architecture circles—is Robert Trent Jones, who put Colonial Williamsburg on the golf map with his 1963 design of Golden Horseshoe’s Gold course. Jones once favorably compared his creation to Augusta National. While Trent Jones’s son Rees won’t go quite that far, he does acknowledge the stellar job that his father did with the course: “The original tailor,” he once said, “cut a great suit.” Rees would know—he first renovated his dad’s design in 1998, then finished what he started in 2017. Reopened July 1, Golden Horseshoe’s Gold course has regained its luster.

Jones the younger employed a light though significant touch on his latest tweak to Gold. The tees, fairways and rough have been regrassed with Northbridge Bermuda, while the greens were rebuilt to USGA specs and resurfaced with 007 bentgrass. Bunkers were reconstructed using the renowned Better Billy Bunker technique and filled with new sand. Improved drainage and irrigation, selected tree and underbrush clearing, new forward tees and revamped greens with reduced slopes at holes 2, 6, 12 and 18 are additional highlights.

What remains is Trent Jones’s classic routing through vast, wooded valleys, a fistful of holes that tangle with ravines and a five-acre lake, and a quartet of par 3s unrivaled in the Mid-Atlantic region. Postcards usually feature the downhill, 160-yard 16th, which plays to a banana-shaped, virtual island green, although the tougher hole is the equally dramatic 206-yard seventh, which demands a lake carry to a green guarded by three bunkers. Rees’s alterations are spot on—and Golden Horseshoe’s Gold is styling once again.