The Palmer Course has everything you need in a course. It offers challenging greens that have perfect surfaces, unmatched beauty from the inlets and bunkering that frames each hole beautifully. The course is surrounded by tall pines, native grasses and small wetland areas. Each nine has a stretch of holes along the water that present the player with unparalleled views. The signature hole is the par three fourth along the beach of the Chesapeake Bay. The hole leaves little room to miss with a large bunker down the entire right side of the green, a small pond long and left and of course the Bay to your right. The finishing hole is a risk/reward par five that has a huge “beach” bunker ling the pond and the lay-up area for your third. My favorite hole on the course is the par three fourteenth. The green is somewhat hidden and club selection is key. The wind is usually off the water but it is tough to gauge because of the tall pines that surround the entire green. Usually you see courses offer up the last par three on the seventeenth but I feel like this was his favorite part of the property and had to put a par three just like the fourth because it was too good to pass up. There is not a hole that looks like another and it allows for every skill-level golfer the chance to enjoy their round of golf.
The Nicklaus Course is definitely the harder of the two but aesthetically it is tough to call which one is more beautiful. I have played a lot of Jack Nicklaus courses in my day and I fell like this is one of his best designs ever. The course when played from the proper tee can be a challenge but give you the opportunities to take a chance and score well. The way he thought through each hole and where the golfer should hit the ball is fantastic. He tempts players of all levels to take a chance or play smart on just about every shot. From someone who enjoys designing courses, I cannot find a shot on the course that seems unfair. If the player chooses wisely he will be rewarded. The highlight of the course is the stretch from three through six. A tough driving par five, followed by a skinny par three with the Bay in the distance, a par four along the beach to a small but fair green and a par three that does have a hidden section to the green but it can be very forgiving.
Even though the course is located on the Eastern Shore and it does cost about $20 round trip to go back and forth from Virginia Beach, the drive is over in a flash. The scenery you are provided is unmatched anywhere in the nation. One of man’s most incredible marvels is the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel and everyone should have the chance to travel across it. The resort is only 15 minutes across the bridge and the small town of Cape Charles is very close. The resort has a wonderful restaurant located at the clubhouse where they serve fresh local seafood and the drinks are plentiful. The clubhouse is absolutely gorgeous with natural brick floors, huge pro shop and fantastic practice facilities. I would have to say my favorite part besides the two stretches of golf along the water is the staff. They are there to greet you from the moment you arrive in the parking lot. They will definitely take care of you at all costs.
Tips for the course:
- It’s funny how a player’s game can be found within a layout. Palmer was a risky player and that is very prevalent on a lot of shots. The course favors the low-flight player just like Arnie.
- Play to your strengths and give yourself a lot of comfortable yardages and you will be able to attack the undulating greens.
- #9 – Par 4 – Keep your tee shot left because you will be able to see the entire green from there.
- #12 – Par 3 – Do not go long of this green. You’ll understand why when you get on the putting surface.
- Same can be said about Jack and his game being found throughout the course. Jack was a high ball hitter (hence why the greens are smaller) and he predominantly hit a fade. The place to miss on almost every green is right because it will usually leave you an uphill chip or more room to work with a miss.
- #3 – Par 5 – if the pin is up front, miss you third shot short and if the pin is in the back, miss your third shot long. The Green has a spine the separates the back from the front and if you are on the wrong level it will lead to a three putt.
- #5 – Par 4 – keep your ball to the extreme left side of the fairway because you will able to see the green and give yourself a clear shot around the small birch tree that guards the front right side of the green.
- #8 – Par 4 – the playing partners I had this past weekend were wondering why it was the #1 handicap hole on the course. Smart play is to get it to the 150 and hit the same club. If you wish to be aggressive, aim at the far trap and hit your 230 club but you better be accurate because you will walk away with a bogey or worse if you don’t find the short stuff.