Golden Horseshoe Gold Course -- Views of a Certifiably Famous Virginia gem

Story by Mike Tanner. Photos and Captions by Jeffrey A. Rendall

WILLIAMSBURG, VA -- The Gold Course at the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club in Williamsburg, Virginia, is certifiably famous. GOLF Magazine, Golf Digest and Golfweek consistently include it on their awards lists. It’s a must-play destination for bucket-list golfers.

But playing the Gold simply for its fame isn’t reason enough to make a tee time. What makes it worthy of a golfer’s interest is the opportunity to appreciate its timeless design qualities.

Chief among its attributes is the course routing, which showcases the land to its greatest advantage. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation provided architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. with a compact, rectangular property adjacent to the restored historic area. Bisected by a deep, wide ravine, the parkland setting also encompasses rolling terrain and stands of mature trees.

Jones selected the ravine to be the centerpiece of his design. The continuous layout (it doesn’t return to the clubhouse between nines) immerses players in a delightful journey that traverses the course’s signature topographic feature four times. Holes on each side of the ravine blend gentle and not-so-gentle elevation changes to create an engaging sense of ebb and flow during the round.

The ravine first appears as an all-carry-over-water approach to the green at the downhill par-5 second hole. Jones spanned the low-lying portion of the property three more times with dramatic par-3 holes.

The Gold is also a paragon of design variety. While par-4 holes on the first nine tend to be short and the two par-5 holes measure less than 500 yards from the back tees, that’s reversed on the second nine, where a stout finish lies in wait. The par-5 fifteenth stretches to more than 600 yards from all but the forward-most tees. The final two holes — both par-4s — are well over 400 yards long.  

Dogleg holes offer an even balance between left and right turns. Some curve gently; others bend severely. Only on the par-3 holes did Jones repeat himself. All four play downhill and over water hazards.

Despite this or maybe because of it, this collection of par-3 holes is a hallmark of the Gold. While it may not be the first island green par-3 ever created, the much-photographed sixteenth hole certainly inspired many more versions.

Jones’ design philosophy of “hard par, easy bogey” is evident here. At 6,817 yards from the back tees, the 1963 vintage Gold doesn’t use length alone to challenge players. Shotmaking and strategic thinking are just as important as power.

Players must weigh multiple angles of play and choose routes to cannily protected greens commensurate with their skill and appetite for risk. Once on the putting surfaces, golfers quickly learn to respect visible contouring as well as subtle, underlying slopes.

Finally, the Gold rewards all who play it with one of golf’s most satisfying experiences — memorability. From Jones’ trademark runway tees on the first hole to the exacting run of closing holes that concludes at an elegant Georgian-style clubhouse, the Gold Course creates indelible mental images to reflect upon long after the final putt is holed.

Here are some of those images you'll take with you:

The 498-yard, par five 2nd defines greatness on the Gold Course. With a good drive the green is reachable in two, but that does not mean you will score well on the hole.

Thread the needle off the tee of the par four 11th hole.

The 201-yard 3rd is the first of a world class set of par threes on the Gold Course.

Even from the white tees the par five 15th measures 600 yards. It is one you will not forget.

The beautiful downhill par three 7th hole.

The long and uphill par four 17th is one of the hardest holes you will ever play. Period.

The 6th hole is another short par five, but requires exceptionally precise shots for a chance at birdie.

Check the wind before selecting your club on the par three 12th hole.

Near the green of the par four 9th hole.

You can see four holes from one spot in this view. It is vintage Golden Horseshoe.

Looking back from the #1 handicap par four 4th hole.

One of the most famous views in Virginia golf, the par three 16th hole.


The Golden Horseshoe Golf Club (Gold Course)
401 South England Street
Williamsburg, Virginia  23185

Phone (757) 220-7696
FAX (757) 565-8841


Director of Golf:  Glen Byrnes
Head Golf Professional: Jeff Winters
Course Designers:  Robert Trent Jones and Rees Jones


Gold              6817   144/73.8
Blue              6522   137/72.6
White            6248   135/71.5
Red               5168   126/69.8


As part of Colonial Williamsburg, golf at the Golden Horseshoe is available through a number of attractive package rates, which vary depending on length of stay and type of hotel accommodations.

We suggest checking the web address above for more information.

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