American Golf's Virginia Golfer's Club Offers More For Less
Just look around and you'll notice buying stuff in bunches brings good value. Wholesale outlets and fast food joints pioneered the concept -- Costco cuts cents off the pound when buying whole chickens, or McDonald's discounts through super-sizing one of their 'value' meals. When you buy more, you pay proportionately less.

The golf world is hardly immune. Package deals flourish where you've got someone looking to save a few dollars by booking several tee times at once. Packages draw bargain hunters like bears on honey -- but are hardly useful to the occasional golfer.

Why do local regulars miss out on golf economies of scale? When it comes to most country clubs, paying more doesn't necessarily bring proportionately greater value. The problem lies in quantity -- if clubs could offer more holes, they'd charge less per round because they'd make up the difference with more customers. But finding a large group of golf holes under one ownership isn't easy.

It's a good thing the folks at American Golf have mastered the 'more is better' concept, and are now offering a discount membership package for purchase, redeemable at their three Northern Virginia golf courses (five statewide) -- called the Virginia Golfer's Club.

Gene Garrote, General Manager at Bristow Manor (in charge of the Virginia Golfer's Club statewide), says: "The Virginia Golfer's Club presents an opportunity for golfers to purchase a club membership without mortgaging their golf shoes to pay for it. For $299, the club offers privileges at our five American Golf clubs in Virginia -- including five free rounds when you sign up the first time, a $50 range card, a free subscription to Golf Digest Magazine, and additional discounts throughout the year. You'll get 50% off weekdays and 20% on weekends."

Garrote continues, "The membership's good for one year, provides advanced tee time reservations, member tournaments and other food and beverage benefits. Finally, there are bonus points for frequency of play -- you'll 'swipe' your card every time you play, and on the tenth time, you get an additional discount honored at any one of the five facilities."

And when you think about what you get for the money, it's a fantastic value. American Golf's three northern Virginia facilities are all good buys -- even without the Virginia Golfer's Club.

Bristow Manor's a combination of Scottish style links course and peaceful parkland layout -- and you'll get a distinct taste of each on its front and back nines.

Bristow opened in 1992, a Ken Killian designed course that's been pleasing players ever since with its 'Country Club' feel and close-to-the-city convenience. It's quite challenging, too -- stretching to 7102 yards from the tips and a slope of 133.

Particularly noteworthy is number seven, Bristow Manor's signature hole. It's a 467 yard, dogleg right par four. A pond guards the leg on the right side off the tee, and brush is long and left -- so not only must you be long, you've got to be accurate. It doesn't get any easier on the second, either, as you'll have an uphill shot over a creek. Tough hole, but one you won't forget.

Virginia Oaks shares Lake Manassas with a famous neighbor, yet more than justifies its side of the lake. As you play the course, you'll glance across the water and see the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, site of three President's Cups -- one of those private clubs that costs and arm and a leg to join, then your food budget for a year to pay its monthly dues.

In contrast, Virginia Oaks is a PB Dye layout that lives up to all you'd expect from a course designed by the son of Pete Dye -- it's tough. Dye weaves you in and out of forested areas, over swales, across water and onto elevated, well-bunkered greens. You'll also get a ton of lake view for the price. Bring your 'A' game here and meet the challenge.

A good example of Virginia Oaks' challenge is number nine, a mere 135 yards of par three, but a full water carry to a Dye signature island green. Standing on the tee, the green looks pretty small, and any breath of wind will definitely compound the difficulty. Add in the fact it's right in front of the clubhouse, and you might even have to play to an audience -- talk about pressure! Judging by the well worn drop area, many a duffer failed to rise to the occasion.

Reston National is the oldest of American Golf's three northern Virginia tracks, and fits well into the classic design category -- no tricks and plenty of visibility. Garrote said its setting is unique: "The thing I like about Reston National is its location -- it's set amongst quite a bit of development, yet still maintains its serene park-like appearance. It's a real getaway."

Playing 6878 yards from the tips, you'll need to be long as well as precise -- as the fairways are guarded by mature trees and fairway bunkers that often come into play. Jason Wirtz, Reston National's Tournament Director, says the key to scoring well on his course is to hit fairways and greens -- as the rough's long and thick, and there are several long par fours that must be approached from the fairway.

One of those long par fours is number 10, the toughest hole on the course. 461 yards from the back tees (and tight), the fairway slopes from right to left -- kicking all drives towards that side of the hole. Reaching the fairway won't quell the challenge, as you'll still have a long-iron or fairway wood to a large and elevated green, well protected by sand.

It's nice to know that golfers can garner all the benefits of membership to a country club while also getting more, paying less, and leaving satisfied. So next time you're looking for quantity (and quality) golf at a bargain price, order the American Golf Virginia Golfer's Club -- and you won't even need to order anything on the side.


For more information on American Golf's three northern Virginia facilities or the Virginia Golfer's Club, contact the staff at Bristow Manor:

Phone (703)368-3558
FAX (703)368-8774

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