Wintergreen Resort -- Fostering the Golfing Family

By Jeffrey A. Rendall, photos by Jeffrey A. Rendall and family

WINTERGREEN, VA – Everyone knows golf is a terrific way to spend time with friends and colleagues, but rarely is it mentioned as the means to get in quality hours with your family.

The good folks at Wintergreen Resort are intent on changing that impression.

Near the green of the par five 3rd hole on the Tuckahoe nine, you can appreciate the natural splendor.

Wintergreen’s fantastic golf product will aid in convincing the skeptical, as its 27 holes of Rees Jones designed heaven at Stoney Creek are virtually the perfect setting for families to enjoy a day on the links. Add in the 18 holes of mountain top golf at Devils Knob (near the resort center) and you’ve got perhaps the ultimate combination of great golf and family-friendly facilities.

Wintergreen’s Director of Golf, Geoff Redgrave, explains why Wintergreen works so well for families. “We provide an ideal setting for golf families looking for a getaway that is not only convenient for the Mid-Atlantic region but for other locales as well.  Our two golf courses offer two completely different playing experiences at one resort, both playable by all levels of golfer.”

“Also, dining at the resort provides family options as well as many other things to do. Plus, Wintergreen has family-friendly accommodations (they are very home-like) and other activities for families like Discovery Ridge Adventure Center, a spa, swimming—always the number-one kid activity on vacations—and hiking to name just a few,” Redgrave added.

The par four 16th hole is straight downhill up on the mountain at Devils Knob.

Golf has acquired a bad reputation in some circles as being exclusively for partying all-male foursomes. While the stereotype may have hints of truth in certain places, it’s definitely not the case at Wintergreen.

That’s not to say that buddy trips wouldn’t work there – far from it. But if you’re looking for the non-stop partying and adult-centered entertainment of beach destinations, Wintergreen’s not for you.

Which naturally makes it all the better for families.

The par three 3rd hole on the Shamokin nine at Stoney Creek is vintage Rees Jones.

And while both courses are suitable for family groups, Stoney Creek is probably a little friendlier to new or inexperienced players. Redgrave describes why families would like each course: “Stoney Creek has 27 holes, a tee time is always available, especially in the afternoon when a golfing family has a chance to play and enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery. The course features generous fairways and five sets of tees, as well as a renowned Golf Academy that provides instruction to all types of golfers.”

“Additional family programs can be found at Devils Knob, which can play as short as 4,400 yards. Both courses have daily clinics, plus there are Family Fun 9 and Try 3 programs available to resort guests after 3 pm Monday through Thursday.”

Two (Monocan and Shamokin) of Stoney Creek’s three nines are relatively flat – and wide. Where width equals “friendly” to all golfers, it’s especially true for beginners. The Tuckahoe nine has real elevation changes on its first four holes and is tighter in spots – but is still an enjoyable family experience simply because of the beautiful surroundings.

Beauty is everywhere at Wintergreen. Here, the par three 6th hole at Devils Knob.

Tuckahoe also has very few homes bordering its holes – it’s just you and the course.

Course architect Rees Jones says Stoney Creek stands apart because of its natural setting: “"On the Tuckahoe nine, we had to kind of weave the holes around the sensitive areas -- but we really did try to blend all three nines with their individual environments. It was important to make it look like the golf belonged there -- that it wouldn't disrupt the existing beautiful surroundings.”

“The Wintergreen folks really helped us in that regard, by giving us the best ground for golf on all three nines."

Water challenges on both shots at the par four 1st hole on the Tuckahoe nine.

"The first few holes on the Tuckahoe nine went down, then up, then down again, so we built those to flow with the terrain. In the open areas, we did a lot of contouring and put in relief features. And of course we added mounding to the sides of the fairways to try and contain some wayward shots. All with the ultimate goal of creating a very playable, natural setting for golf."

Mission accomplished. We played as a family and it worked seamlessly.

Devils Knob is routed over some very rocky, rugged ground but doesn’t really play like a mountain course. There are serious elevation changes on several holes, but there is also some room to spray the ball a bit on most holes.

Looking back from the par five 10th hole at Devils Knob.

The course isn’t really walkable, which makes it a little more challenging for families in carts. This has not proven to be too much of a problem as the younger members of our family group can hardly wait to get to their ball in any case – especially on foot.

Neither facility is set up specifically with those orange “family” tee markers that are becoming more and more common these days. But (as mentioned above) Redgrave says it’s not an issue to accommodate a family’s yardage needs.

“When a family requests a Family Fun 9 (on Devil’s Knob) or Try 3 experience, we set up tee markers for them that makes the courses enjoyable for all.”

The par three 4th hole on the Tuckahoe nine is a stiff challenge from the back tee.

The accommodating attitude is prevalent at Wintergreen. But for those veteran groups who want to play a quick round of golf, hearing the word “family” might translate to slow play.

Again, Redgrave indicates that’s not necessarily the case. “While there’s usually less traffic on the courses in the afternoon, Stoney Creek’s 27 holes almost always provides enough room for new golfers to play in the morning. And at Devils Knob course, which is exclusive to members and registered resort guests, it’s rare when there aren’t tee times perfect for new or inexperienced players.”

“Our professional staff is proud of the PGA of America golf initiatives and will go out of its way to insure that new golfers are welcomed at both courses.”

Prepare yourself for a dramatic drop off the tee of the par four 3rd hole at Devils Knob.

Every family golf experience is different, but one game we introduced to make our round more fun – and interesting to the more experienced players – was called “family par.” The newer golfers played from the forward tees and I played from the tips, and together we took the best shot from each of us to try and beat par.

Yes, it’s like family Captain’s choice or best ball, but it’s a way to keep the less skilled players in the game and also provide a real experience for regular players. It also keeps the focus off of pure numbers while helping the newbies hone their scoring skills.

On the whole, everyone in the group improved quite a bit over the course of two days. It was a lot of fun and will offer memories of our trip to Wintergreen for years.

It is not hard to see why the course is called Stoney Creek. Here, the par four 6th hole on the Shamokin nine.

Wintergreen plans to highlight its family packages in July. “Throughout July, we have some nice additions to our current programs. The ‘Try 3’ family program will be relabeled ‘Try 3, kids are FREE’ and the Family Fun 9 program will include a FREE golf clinic,” Redgrave explained.

Try 3 starts with 30 minutes of simple, easy-to-understand instruction from one of Wintergreen’s teaching professionals and then moves out on the course to play three holes. The combination of lesson and playing a few holes makes for a friendly introduction to golf – and doesn’t take much more than an hour.

Redgrave continues, “Then there’s the ‘Mom, Dad and Me’ golf lesson, which parallels our ski program’s popular instructional opportunity for kids to take a private, one-hour lesson while Mom and/or Dad observe (or they can partake in the lesson, too, for $49). After the lesson, the instructor will write down what the student worked on with more tips on how to keep improving.”

Rock accents many of the holes at Devils Knob. Here, the par three 17th hole.

“There’s even a laminated ‘cheat sheet’ with basic rules and fundamentals designed to be taken on the course. All that for only $75,” Redgrave concluded.

It’s not clear at this time whether “Family Golf Month” (in July) will be a permanent addition to Wintergreen’s annual programs, but there’s no doubting their sincerity in going the extra mile to make golfing families feel comfortable on the links.

Wintergreen’s family fun doesn’t end on the golf course.

The par three 8th hole on the Tuckahoe nine.

It goes without saying, but golf is only a small 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 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 high-speed internet connections – this is a mountain home that more than adequately takes care of you on your stay.

Families will love the peaceful tranquility of Devils Knob.

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.

As a family, 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.

There is plenty for you to do when you are off the links at Wintergreen.

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 -- but everything you’d expect from a high-end family mountain resort, you’ll find in abundance at Wintergreen.

Further, there’s the Wintergarden Spa, which pampers you from the moment you walk in the door with a variety of treatment options, including facials and manicures. The Spa is located adjacent to the Aquatics and Fitness Center, so you can keep your regular workout routine going and then partake in the Spa luxuries that you won’t necessarily find at home.

Finally, we particularly enjoyed the hiking trails at the top of the mountain, which range in difficulty depending on your level of fitness and daring.

Wintergreen truly provides a little bit of everything for your family golf adventure. If you’re looking to introduce your family to the game you love, you could hardly pick a better place.


Wintergreen Resort
Route 664
Wintergreen, VA 22958

Resort phone: 434-325-2200
Golf: 434-325-8250

You can also find a wealth of good information on Wintergreen’s golf programs and general information about the resort at:

Consult the Wintergreen Website for schedules and directions to the resort.

Family Fun 9 tee times are available Monday through Thursday, starting at 3 p.m.

Rates vary within the season and include:

All golf fees
Callaway club rentals
Discounts on golf balls for nine holes

Adults: $39-$56
Child: $20-$35
Family of Four: $119-$179
Add on a pre-round family golf clinic for $30 per adult - kids are free.

Reservations are required; call 434-325-8255.

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