The 2002 Awards -- Not Just Another Tin Statue!

Text and Photos by the Staff


MANASSAS, VA -- We think it's safe to say people are sick of awards.  Not getting 'em, of course, but seeing awards-ceremonies on TV.  Essentially, such shows feature a collection of largely over-exposed stars, wearing all the latest outlandish fashions -- gathered together to celebrate themselves.  Talk about narcissism, this is idolatry at its highest.  No wonder the tabloids swarm over them like sharks at a feeding frenzy.


Bulle Rock's 2nd hole sheds light on the type of beauty that golf in the Mid Atlantic region provides.

At the same time, awards are essential for recognizing hard work and exceptional performance.  If you win a championship, you should get a trophy.  If you write a memorable screenplay, you should get an Oscar.  We've got no problem whatsoever with awarding large silver cups or gold statues for triumphing over your peers in an even contest.  Competition is good.


So we're stuck in between despising awards shows and appreciating those who win.  Therefore, we'll do something a little different with our 'awards' for's best of 2002 'show.'  We're not going to give a top-10 list, a bronze statuette or a blue ribbon.  And we won't seek a major television sponsor. 


We also realize we're leaving out tons of people we've met in's first full season.  We'll do our best to give attribution to a good portion of the great folks we've met and talked with in the last year -- and there are many!

Beach bunkers, fountains and lots of water are the norm at The Signature at West Neck -- another Palmer masterpiece in Virginia Beach.


For those who aren't on the list, we apologize.  Think of it as an acceptance speech at the Oscars -- if we tried to thank everyone, the show would last four hours and fifty minutes instead of four hours and twenty minutes.  And this article would be 5000 words in length instead of 2200 words.  We'll also note that the places we visited in 2000 and 2001 are ineligible for this list, too, since we're trying to highlight the achievers of 2002.  Next year, we're going to try and revisit some of the outstanding places from recent years, so you'll get your chance in 2003!


Confused?  We're not even taking nominations, have no set categories and our votes solely determine the winners.  Autocracy defined.  At least you'll know who to send the complaints to.  Let's begin!


Atlantic Golf at Queenstown Harbor has been a local favorite for over a decade. Here, the River Course's 11th hole helps demonstrate why.

The Winner For 'Best Technical Contribution':  Samantha Drennan.  We couldn't possibly have an awards show for without thanking the person behind the scenes who did an incredible job designing the site, but also created an easily comprehensible 'maintenance' system for writers, contributors and photographers to work with.  Ms. Drennan dreamed up the easy navigation system for the publication, so readers benefit also.  She's a 'star' and a champion at the same time -- and is the big secret behind our success.


The Winner For 'Good Guy of The Mid Atlantic Golf Scene':  Kevin Gaydosh.  Kevin received Honorable mention last year, but takes the top nod in 2002.  Kevin's been invaluable in contributing his public relations expertise to the publication (his firm, The Meridian Group, represents Kingsmill Resort), as well as his photographic talents on occasion.  His knowledge of the industry is thorough, he'll never turn down requests for advice, and he's there when you need him.  What else is a 'good guy' for?


Honorable mention goes to Charlie Birney of Atlantic Golf (last year's winner for 'Best Ownership Group').  The Birney family is involved with much more than golf course ownership (they own the River and Lakes courses at Queenstown Harbor, Atlantic Golf at South River and Atlantic Golf at Potomac Ridge, 27 holes) -- they're into helping the golf community participate in charitable and social issues as well, and Charlie leads the effort.  Examples include the recent 'Drive the vote' campaign, where voters could register to vote at the various Atlantic Golf facilities, and Birney's 'Friday Morning Irregulars,' which helped raise money for La Plata (Maryland) tornado relief.  Folks like Charlie demonstrate that there's more to the game of golf than knocking a little white ball around a grassy landscape.

Westfields Golf Club's 13th hole includes a historic cemetery. Just one of the unique features you'll find there. Photo Courtesy of Westfields.


Further mention goes to Judy Watkins (a 'good gal') of the Virginia Tourism Corporation.  When we first dreamed up the idea of starting a regional on-line golf publication, Judy immediately offered her assistance and support -- and it's been there ever since.  She features one of's Virginia articles every month on the Virginia state website (, and therefore gives us a lot of additional exposure.


Additional honors go out to David Bartholomew, the Wintergreen Golf Academy's Head Instructor (whose patience is legendary with overly firm grips); Greg Nesbitt, Pleasant Valley/South Riding's General Manager -- a supporter from the start; Jim Curtis of Tee Time Golf Pass; Rick Zarlengo of the Broad Run Golf Academy; Jim Devine of Bull Run Country Club; and Steve Clark of Raspberry Falls.


The Golden Horseshoe Gold Course's 16th hole is one you'll see gracing the covers of many publication covers.

The Winner For 'Most Articulate Head Golf Professional':  David Finocchiaro of Westfields Golf Club.  David gave us a personal tour of Westfields this past July, and then followed up with a lengthy and thought provoking interview about one of the Washington, DC area's upscale gems.  In his remarks, Finocchiaro touched on the property's history, a bit on how it's maintained, and a treatise on Westfields' service philosophies.  While an interviewee from time to time might leave a few 'blanks' unfilled, Finocchiaro touched on it all.  Even better, he was able to put up with Editor Jeff Rendall and Photographer Jeff Janas for an afternoon -- that deserves recognition in and of itself.


Honorable mention goes to Scott Purpura of Lansdowne Resort, who we also got to spend some time with this past season.  Like Finocchiaro, Purpura also possesses a thorough knowledge of the game, and was kind enough to share his thoughts along the way while playing Lansdowne Resort's back nine. 


The Winner For 'Best Director of Golf':  Glen Byrnes.  Glen is one of a few repeat winners from last year -- but he does such an incredible job with the Gold and Green courses at the Golden Horseshoe, he deserves repeat honoraria.  Not only does he keep the courses in tip-top shape, he's always an excellent source of knowledge in the region.  Glen's attitude is best reflected in the Golden Horseshoe's staff and service -- a standard in the Mid Atlantic, which probably has the best service of any area in the country (in our humble opinions).

Lester George helped Providence Golf Course emerge from the ashes of the old Pocoshock Creek. Tranquility is found here.


Honorable mention goes to Mike Mayer at Wintergreen Resort; Rick Rounsaville of Bulle Rock; Phil Owenby of Kinloch Golf Club; David Rae of Beechtree Golf Club; Dean Hurst of Bayville Golf Club; and Tom Stevenson of Baymark Golf.     


The Winner For 'Greatest Ownership Vision':  Dick Foster of Baymark Golf.  Foster would probably be surprised to win this award, considering he doesn't even play golf, but what he's created in the Virginia Beach area with Bay Creek and The Signature at West Neck is just outstanding.  Foster's vision was to create incredible, memorable golf courses (which he left to Arnold Palmer and associates to design), and provide them at such reasonable prices that even everyday golfers can play them.  There's no question he's done it.


Arthur Hills turned former pastoral land into Maryland National -- the best newcomer in the region for 2002.

Honorable mention goes to Cliff Boyd at Virginia National Golf Club.  Like Foster, Boyd doesn't have a golf background (he does play), but that hasn't stopped him from making a substantial personal investment into the everyday workings of his golf course.  If you play there, and you've got a complaint, you can go directly to the man in charge -- because chances are, Boyd'll be there.


Additional mention goes to Marvin 'Vinny' Giles, CB Robertson and Charles Staples of Kinloch Golf Club (now that's a 'vision'), the Birney family of Atlantic Golf (last year's winners), Ed Abel of Bulle Rock, Jim Knott of Beechtree Golf Club, and ClubCorp and the Pinehurst Group, owners of Pinehurst Resort and The Homestead.


The Winner For 'Best Course Architect For the Mid Atlantic Region':  Lester George.  Prior to 2002, we'd never seen any of George's work, but we certainly discovered it this year.  George has left his mark on several incredible golf courses in the region recently, the most noteworthy being Kinloch Golf Club, which won 'Best New Private Course' for 2001 from Golf Digest.  George worked with 1972 US Amateur Champion Vinny Giles at Kinloch, and also claims The Colonial in Williamsburg and Providence Golf Course in Richmond -- which we also visited this year.  And for anyone who's ever talked with him, his enthusiasm for golf and design is wonderfully evident.

Swan Point brings 'Carolina' to your mind, with pine trees, tidal marsh and Bermuda surfaces.


Honorable mention goes to the firm of Ault, Clark & Associates (perhaps the most pervasive presence in all of Mid Atlantic golf, and last year's winner), the Palmer Design Group (including Palmer's design partner Ed Seay and various associates, such as Vicki Martz, Erik Larsen and Ray Wiltse, to name a few), Arthur Hills (who we'll see quite a lot of next year), Rees Jones, Pete Dye, Tom Fazio, Tom Doak, Rick Jacobson, and Gene Bates.  The depth of design talent represented in the Mid Atlantic region is simply unparalleled.  Fazio once said, "there are literally hundreds and hundreds of golf courses waiting to evolve out of the Mid Atlantic topography, which is a nearly ideal landscape for golf."  We agree, and who can argue with the layouts that are already here.


The Winner For 'Best Newcomer in the Mid Atlantic':  Maryland National Golf Club.  Every year, the list of outstanding courses in the region grows -- and this year's list was impressive (note:  due to the drought conditions, we visited fewer new courses this year than in years past, but this in no way takes away from Maryland National's recognition).  Maryland National not only vaulted to the top of the list in the 'newcomer' category, it's certainly at the top of the top tier for upscale public courses in the region.  Give credit to Arthur Hills for designing a playable, challenging and memorable layout -- but kudos also go to the staff, led by Director of Golf Mike McGillicuddy, for bringing about a great golf experience with somewhat limited facilities (it will be in 'full operation' next June).


Kinloch Golf Club's 9th hole shows why it's the 'Best of the Best' -- stunning aesthetics, several shot options, and nature's gifts.

Honorable mention to The Signature At West Neck in Virginia Beach, Renditions Golf Club in Davidsonville, Maryland, Providence Golf Course in Richmond, and Hollow Creek Golf Club (near Maryland National) four other outstanding newcomers that we looked at in 2002.


The Winner For 'Best Kept Secret':  Swan Point Yacht & Country Club in Issue, Maryland.  Being in southern Maryland along the Potomac River, it's safe to say a good portion of the Washington, DC area golfers haven't made the trip down to Swan Point.  Well, they don't know what they're missing.  Swan Point offers a golf experience worthy of those you'll find in the Carolinas, without the lengthy drive.  It's quite a beautiful setting, one that really shouldn't be 'secret' much longer.


For private clubs, the 'secret' award goes to The Country Club at Woodmore.  When folks rattle off lists of noteworthy clubs in the Washington, DC area, few would probably include Woodmore -- but that should change.  Though its conditioning isn't what you'll see at some of the high-ticket clubs, you can't beat the Arnold Palmer inspired layout, with some redesign work done by Tom Clark of Ault, Clark & Associates.

Some of the shots at Beacon Hill are especially challenging, but taking good pictures of it's incredible landscape isn't tough at all.


Further honorable mention to the Entire Mid Atlantic Region, which by all accounts from those who know -- should be thought of as a major golf destination, but somehow gets passed over for points farther south.  There may not be the concentrations of courses in this region that you'll find in places like Orlando, Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head Island, but there's little doubt that the overall quality in this territory takes a back seat to no place. 

It's only a matter of time before the word gets out!


Our final category:  The Winner For 'Best of the Best':  Kinloch Golf Club.  This certainly isn't a put-down to the rest of the golf courses/resorts in the Mid Atlantic, but when we went to Kinloch, we thought it was the most incredible golf facility we'd ever seen -- and we knew it right away.  Once we played it, we knew our first impressions didn't lie.  Kinloch is one of those golf clubs where you just know it's something special.  It's beautiful, it's playable, the practice facilities are superior to anything we'd ever encountered, and the staff is hospitable to the fullest extent.  Lester George, Vinny Giles and Phil Owenby said no details were overlooked, and it's obvious that that's the truth.  Simply put, a standard for everything else.  Kinloch is a private club, but if you get the chance to go there, move mountains to make the appointment.


We were also extremely impressed with Beacon Hill Golf Club, part of the new Golf Club of Virginia.  Beacon Hill moves in amongst, over and down the rolling hills of the late Arthur Godfrey's estate outside of Leesburg, Virginia -- and although it's got a few playability issues for first-timers, there's little question it's an unbelievably beautiful setting.


Thus concludes our 2002 awards 'show.'  Once again, we're at a loss to mention everyone who's meant so much to what we did in 2002, and we apologize to those who were left off this 'show.'  The fact is, there are so many great people and places to visit in this region that it's not possible to mention them all in one 'time slot.'  But that's one of the best things about having and its archives -- there's 'honorable mention' found throughout.


Here's a hearty thanks for all who did so much in 2002 to make what it is -- the Mid Atlantic's on-line golf authority!


Related Links   Comments on this article?
Maryland National Golf Club
Hollow Creek Golf Club
Rocky Gap Resort
PB Dye Golf Club in Ijamsville
Whiskey Creek Golf Club
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