Wintergreen Resort - A Place to Go Back to

 By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Photos by Jeffrey A. Rendall

WINTERGREEN, VA – Some places you just hate to leave.

Going on vacation is something we all look forward to, an opportunity to get away from the daily routine and experience some different surroundings.  It’s a way to shut things off for a period of time while re-charging our batteries to come back and be ready to reach the next goal in our ambitious careers.

And while it’s always nice to see new things, some destinations you just crave to return to.  Such is the case for Wintergreen Resort, a family-style mountain retreat located about forty-five minutes from Charlottesville in the middle of Virginia.

We’ve been returning to Wintergreen for years, and it’s a place that we just never get tired of visiting – not because it’s new and different, but because it’s familiar.  Wintergreen is a place to go back to.

Although Wintergreen has a certain kind of familiarity, that doesn’t mean it’s stagnant -- far from it.  The resort is constantly introducing new programs, learning opportunities and activities into its offerings. No visit to Wintergreen is ever truly the same.

Although Wintergreen is continually evolving, one thing that remains is a quality Golf Academy, headed up by Director of Golf and Instruction, Geoff Redgrave. "Picture the perfect golf swing," said Redgrave. "Now put yourself in that picture."


The academy offers V-1 Pro golf teaching technology, a scientific system that combines biomechanics with golf expertise to obtain maximum results.

Wintergreen is an all-around classy golf experience.

Having first visited the Wintergreen Golf Academy in 2002, I'd say the changes have been dramatic over the years. There is now a multi-station covered teeing area to allow for teaching under all types of weather contingencies -- and to protect you from the scorching sun during the summer.

The school will tailor a program to train any body type -- based on size, age, gender and other factors -- to achieve the ideal swing. Good for all types of players, from beginners to those veterans who are just looking for that swing key to shave a few strokes off their game.

Other specialty schools include: Private & Nine; Learn to Golf Clinic; One Day School; Two Day School; Three Day School; Advanced Junior School; Junior Golf & Tennis; Alumni Golf School; Build Your Own School. The last option allows you to pick and choose the areas of your game that you'd like to work on, and tailor your program to match.


Conditions are always plush in-season at Devil's Knob. Here, a glimpse at the green of the par four 13th hole.

Some of the programs also include a custom fit Callaway Driver. How's that for a bonus?


Another recent change at Wintergreen involves the complete re-grassing of the Tuckahoe nine (Stoney Creek’s newest nine), which prior to the installation of Cavalier Zoysia was chronically difficult to keep in good playing shape.


Not much to dislike in the setting of Tuckahoe's par five 3rd hole.

The Tuckahoe nine is part of Wintergreen’s Stoney Creek 27-hole facility, designed by renowned architect Rees Jones, also known as the ‘Open Doctor’ because of his renovation work on almost all of the recent US Open venues.


Jones’ courses are subtle and dictated by strategy.  Redgrave discusses Jones’ influence on Stoney Creek:  “Rees Jones is known for his greens and his greens complexes – and that’s why the USGA continues to hire him to complete the majority of the reconstructions at most US Open sites.”


Devil's Knob's 3rd hole is probably the only 500+-yard par four you'll ever see that you won't necessarily need a driver from the tee. It drops significantly from tee to green.

Redgrave continues, “Mr. Jones is the Michelangelo of golf design, as he captivates the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains along with working strategy into the pristine surroundings at Stoney Creek.  Here, Jones really places a premium on the approach shot.  He gives you the illusion that the tee shot is very generous – however, many landing areas are more difficult than appears from the tee.”


Redgrave also pointed out that most of the trouble is found around the greens at Stoney Creek, which makes it very difficult to score.  It’s the type of course that’s fun to play because you won’t feel like the course is that demanding, but leaves you wondering why you didn’t score better than you did. 


From the tee of Tuckahoe's par four 2nd hole. Rees Jones never hides the challenges or strategy on any hole - which is certainly demonstrated by Wintergreen's Stoney Creek.

The greens, like the rest of the course, are subtle.  “You’ve got to keep the mountain in mind on all your putts,” Redgrave added.  “The mountain may not always be visible on every golf hole, but it shows up in the roll of the greens.”


The Ellis Maples designed Devil’s Knob course is found at the top of the mountain near the main Wintergreen Resort Center, and at nearly 4,000 feet in elevation, is the highest golf course in Virginia.  Despite its location, it only plays like a mountain course on a few holes – and although it’s got some quirky aspects, is an enjoyable experience for residents and visitors alike.


There aren't many water hazards at Devil's Knob, but here's one off the tee of the par five 7th hole, which some call the toughest par five in Virginia.

Devil’s Knob is definitely the course of choice on hot summer days, where it’s 15 degrees cooler high up at the summit.  Likewise, Stoney Creek remains open year-round (unless there’s uncommon snow-cover), and provides a golf afternoon alternative after you’ve hit the slopes in the morning – during the winter months, of course.


Devil’s Knob used to be known as a short, shot-to-shot golf course chock full of weird bounces and frustrating course conditioning – which could be great in some places and terrible in others.


From the fairway of the Shamokin nine's par four 6th hole, you can see how Stoney Creek got it's name.

And although the course still has some intrinsic oddities that would be nearly impossible to eliminate, it’s much fairer than before.  In addition, three new tee boxes have been added to increase the distance from the back tees to over 6700 yards in length, so unlike the old days, you’ll need to bring your driver with you – and use it well.


The high-altitude thin air will also add some distance to your clubs, but a few of those holes are pretty meaty – something to keep in mind when planning your trip.


Devil's Knob may be on top of a mountain, but most of it plays very level. Here, the par three 8th hole.

It goes without saying, but golf is only a part of what Wintergreen Resort is all about.  


Since we primarily focus on golf here, we won’t bother in describing the skiing, which is the main event during the cold months.  For those looking for an accessible winter playground, I can’t help but recommend that you try Wintergreen – though I’ve never skied there myself.


Rees Jones's signature mounding lines both sides of the Tuckahoe nine's concluding par five.

Wholeheartedly recommended is the resort itself.  For every visit to Wintergreen, we’ve stayed in individually owned condominium facilities that feature nearly all the comforts of home.  Kitchen facilities, full bathrooms, incredible decks, cable TV with DVD players – and now, high-speed internet connections – this is a mountain home that more than adequately takes care of you on your stay.


There are few things in life as enjoyable as relaxing on the back porch and soaking in the views of the valley, 3,000 feet below – with pleasant temperatures to complete the picture.  It’s no surprise why many folks have established a permanent residence at Wintergreen.


Devil's Knob's par three 17th hole.

Having small children, we particularly enjoy the full kitchens available in the units – but there are more than enough dining offerings at Wintergreen for those who want to ‘get away’ from the oven and stove as well. 


Up on the mountain there’s the Copper Mine restaurant, The Edge, and The Devil’s Grill – which offer just about every type of American-style cuisine that you’d desire, in a variety of settings from walk-in casual to informal elegance.


Relax at the Wintergarden Spa before or after your round.

Down in the valley, there’s the Stoney Creek Bar and Grill, which we’ve had the privilege to sample numerous times over the years and would enthusiastically recommend during your visits to Stoney Creek golf club, or if you’re making a visit to popular Lake Monocan for some beach fun.


Recreational offerings at Wintergreen are simply too voluminous to list within the spatial confines of this article – but everything you’d expect from a high-end family mountain resort, you’ll find in abundance at Wintergreen.


One ‘activity’ that the ladies in our party particularly appreciated was the recently renovated Wintergarden Spa, which underwent $4 million in improvements a few years ago.  The spa pampers you from the moment you walk in, with heightened levels of service and increased treatment options  -- including facials and manicures. 


In addition, the Spa is located adjacent to the Aquatics and Fitness Center – so you can keep up your regular workout routine going and then partake in the Spa luxuries that you won’t necessarily find at home.


Being an extremely family-friendly resort, Wintergreen also offers a variety of programs for kids – some that include adults, and some that are just for the youngins’.  My children are usually enthusiastic about the chance to spend some time in such programs, and they definitely have enjoyed the activities at Wintergreen – from swim lessons and horseback riding to the day-long programs at the main resort center.  Kids don’t lie – at least when it comes to having fun!


It’s hard to synopsize what a visit to Wintergreen Resort means, so we’ll let Geoff Redgrave do the heavy lifting for us.  “The most important thing that people should take away from a trip to Wintergreen is that they had a fun time.  We want them to enjoy two distinctively different golf clubs that were both in outstanding playing shape.   Our goal is for golfers to receive fabulous service from our professional staff – and hope that they will want to bring another group back to the resort!” 

The last request is simple – Wintergreen Resort makes it easy to want to return, and bring your friends.  It’s the type of place that’s always a comfort, because you know that it’ll always be fresh, yet offer the same type of quality experience that you come to know well over the course of several visits.  In other words, Wintergreen is a place to go back to.

Click here for a course review of Stoney Creek.

Click here for a course review of Devil's Knob.

Click here for a look at the Wintergreen Golf Academy.


Wintergreen Resort
P.O. Box 706
Wintergreen, VA 22958


Reservations:  800 926-3723

Golf:   434 325-8250




Director of Golf:  Geoff Redgrave, PGA


Consult the website for specific course information on Stoney Creek’s 27 holes, and Devil’s Knob


The website also contains a wealth of information on accommodations, dining, activities, weather, stay and play packages, etc…

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