Location: Manakin-Sabot, VA
Architect: Lester George
October 3, 2007
Just outside of Richmond, VA is a little known golf club called Kinloch. Though the club only opened in 2001 it has had acclaim lavished upon it since the day it opened its gates. Along with a few other key players, Kinloch was the brainchild of Marvin “Vinny” Giles who is widely considered the 2nd best amateur golfer to ever play the game . . . second only to Mr. Robert Tyre Jones Jr.
The membership is small, so it was great fortune for me to get to know a couple of members who very generously invited me, along with my brother, out for a round of golf. We arrived early and changed shoes in the locker room housed inside the gorgeous tudor style clubhouse. After changing we found our way over to the great practice facility. The driving range and short game areas were just spectacular. Despite the incredibly dry summer Virginia is having the grass everywhere was perfect. I can honestly say that I have putted on greens that were not as well kept as the fairways at Kinloch.
Kinloch is a collection of great golf holes several of which feature split fairways where you have to decide if you want to play it safe or go for broke. The course has several large lakes making it incredibly scenic and the best part of all . . . no houses. In my experience that is a rarity for a modern course.
The fairways at Kinloch are wide and very generous. However, whatever the course gives you on the fairways, it takes back on the greens. The day that we played the greens were running just over 13 on the Stimpmeter so to say they were slick would be the understatement of the year. Missing a 2 foot downhill putt easily resulted in a 10-12 footer coming back, if you were lucky. They like to keep the grass around the greens shaved real tight as well. An approach shot that lands just off the green or a putt that errantly finds its way to the edge of the putting surface can end up rolling 20-30 yards downhill to a collection area, or worse, the water . . . just ask my brother.
Another interesting thing about Kinloch is that they have a 19th hole. An actual 19th hole, not just the clubhouse. It is a par 3 over water and when a tournament is played there the 19th hole is used as a tie breaker hole. There are tees ranging from 120 – 220 yards available for the hole.
I happily ended the day with pars on 18 and 19 and then headed to the clubhouse for a Cuban and a single malt. Having a laugh on the porch overlooking the lake as the sun went down was a great way to end an incredible day of golf. A big thanks to my hosts who made the day as spectacular as could be imagined. An added treat is that one of our hosts happens to hold the club record of 63, so not only did I get to play a great course but had the pleasure of watching an amazing player work his way around this tough course!
April 11, 2008 – UPDATE
The first time I played Kinloch I was a little too excited and overwhelmed to break out my camera at all. The photos that had previously been on this site were ones I borrowed from the Kinloch website. Just before I headed out west for my Monterey trip I played Kinloch again and this time took some photos.
Spring has been a little slow to arrive in Richmond this year, so the course had not really began to bloom and fill out yet. It was still perfectly groomed and the fastest greens Iâ€™ve played on yet. My friend Mike took me out as well as my friend Jay from New York who I played Shinnecock Hills with last year and will be playing Winged Foot with later this summer. Below are a couple of photos from my round in April.
This photo below is of the 7th hole which is a great par 3 where you tee off from an elevated tee box. Its a pretty long hole and I hit a utility club here both times Iâ€™ve played the course.
Below is the 8th hole which has a blind drive and then an slightly downhill and left approach over the water. That front bank is shaved and this is the scene of my brotherâ€™s Augusta #12-like moment last fall where his ball landed a foot short of the green and rolled all the way down and into the water.
The par 5 11th hole is pictured below. This is a downhill hole with a split fairway. Both times that Iâ€™ve played here Iâ€™ve not scored well on what should be a relatively good opportunity at a birdie.
I liked the 13th hole which is a par 5 that has a downhill approach with the lake behind the green. Below is a photo of the green.
I donâ€™t know why I didnt take a picture of the 14th hole which is another great one shot hole to a green mostly surrounded by water. Mike told us that there were plans to build a new tee box in the middle of the lake. That will make for an interesting tee shot on this par 3.
The 16th hole is a par 4 and the signature hole. It doesnâ€™t play quite as long at it looks. I hit a poor tee shot last fall and hit a utility club in and this time I was in much better shape hitting a mid-iron in.
The 18th hole is played from an elevated tee. Jay absolutely crushed a drive here which unfortunately set up his par that won the hole and took our match all square.
So Jay and I are all square after 18 holes and thankfully the 19th hole is there to settle our match. Below is a photo of the 19th hole green just in front of the clubhouse taken from the 18th fairway. I parred 19 last fall when we played it for fun and lost my match here this time after hitting my first tee shot in the water to set up my double bogey.
Its always a treat to play a Top 100 course and to get to play one twice is even sweeter. I hope I get a chance to go back and see that new tee box on the 14th hole!