KINGSMILL RESORT (WOODS COURSE)
Course Architects: Tom Clark and Curtis Strange
Year Opened: 1995
Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
Slope: 139. Rating: 72.5
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 4 389 Yds 10 - Par 4 404 Yds
2 - Par 4 395 Yds 11 - Par 4 423 Yds
3 - Par 4 462 Yds 12 - Par 3 195 Yds
4 - Par 4 320 Yds 13 - Par 5 493 Yds
5 - Par 5 542 Yds 14 - Par 4 433 Yds
6 - Par 3 196 Yds 15 - Par 4 388 Yds
7 - Par 4 284 Yds 16 - Par 5 516 Yds
8 - Par 3 146 Yds 17 - Par 3 154 Yds
9 - Par 5 582 Yds 18 - Par 4 462 Yds
Par 36 3,316 Yds Par 36 3,468 Yds
Awards Won: 4 1/2 stars by Golf Digest - Best Places to Play (2006),
#10 America's Best Public-Access Courses (VA) - Golfweek (2005),
#87 America's Top 100 Resort Courses - Golfweek (2005),
Top Ten New Courses for Public Play - Golf Magazine (1995).
HISTORY: The final piece of the Kingsmill Resort puzzle was completed in 1995,
as the Woods Course opened with great fanfare. Carved in the deep ravenous,
tree-soaked landscape of Williamsburg, the Woods Course was crafted by Tom
Clark of Ault, Clark and Associates with consulting work from two-time U.S.
Open champion Curtis Strange.
The Woods Course was built just a short shuttle ride from the Resort, in a
secluded section of property. Meaning, no homes, no buildings, just trees,
more trees, deep ravines and peace and quiet (except when you're on 13). With
most guests opting to play the famed River Course, the Woods is more like a
members club, which is just what the locals enjoy.
Designing the course presented many challenges for Clark and Strange. During
the routing stage, historical sites were found, so they needed plenty of time
and money to excavate, not to mention with its difficult topography, the
routing of the course proved to be quite a chore.
The Kingsmill property dates back to the early 1600s, where the first
Englishman dropped anchor in the James River. Although they settled upstream
in Jamestown, the Virginia Company of England granted 300 acres to Richard
Kingsmill, a member of the organization. Col. Lewis Burwell III, a member of
the Governor's Council, inherited the land from his grandfather and named it
Kingsmill after the original owner. Burwell's Landing was an integral part of
the American Revolution and can be seen from the 17th hole on the River
Fast forward to present time. The Kingsmill Resort and Spa is one of the
Anheuser-Busch Companies in Williamsburg, part of the 2,900 protected acres
along the James River. The Resort features 63 holes of golf, tennis, a full-
service spa and marina, numerous restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools and of
course, Busch Gardens Europe and Water Country USA.
REVIEW: The Woods Course opens with a gentle, dogleg right par four, just 389
yards from the back tees. A large, backwards three-shaped bunker guards the
corner, however the landing area is quite generous, so play down the left-
center to set up the best approach. The green is quite long at 45 paces and
features two tiers. Sand left and right protects the putting surface, however
with a short iron from the fairway, you should be able to bypass trouble.
One of my favorite holes on the course, the second is another dogleg, this
time to the left, just under 400 yards in length. Once again, a wide fairway
awaits, however any shot through the fairway right will snared by a 40-yard
long bunker, while missing left will result in trees and being blocked to the
green. A short iron will once again remain, however water looms large on the
left side, beginning from 75 yards out through the green. Another long green,
stretching from right to left can be quite tricky, especially with a back-left
pin. This hole can be had, but don't get greedy.
From the gold tees, the third is one bear of a hole, tying the 18th as the
longest par four on the course. Doglegging back to the right, the third
requires length and accuracy off the tee, as a large lake right will snare any
offline shot. Trees guard the entire left side of the hole, so left is no
picnic either. A long iron or fairway metal will remain, especially when the
wind is up, to another mammoth green. The putting surface slopes back to front
and is guarded by sand left, right and deep. Making par here will be quite a
It's time to get one back, as you reach the fourth tee. A short, straightaway
par four of just 320 yards in length. No problem, you might say. Well, danger,
in the form of water right of the green and sand left as you near the green
can make this very difficult. For the normal folk, a long iron or fairway-
metal will set up a little wedge to a slightly elevated green. The putting
surface is very undulating and surrounded by three traps. Stay below the hole
for your best shot at birdie.
The fifth is the first par five on the course and features plenty of drama.
Doglegging twice to the left, this 542 yarder can be tamed, however placing
the ball in the proper side of the fairway is of utmost importance. A solid
draw off the tee can open up an opportunity to go for the green, however a
deep ravine fronting the green should dispel any and all thoughts. The proper
play for your second shot should be to the right side of the fairway, leaving
just under 100 yards to a very small, shallow green. Two bunkers lay below the
green and will see plenty of action, especially when the pin is in the back-
left portion of the putting surface.
The longest and first par three on the course is the sixth hole. Playing as
long as 196 yards, this one-shotter is all carry to the green, as another
ravine fronts the surface. Two deep traps guard the left side of the green,
while a pair of bunkers wreck havoc deep. The putting surface slopes from left
to right and back to front, making this one difficult hole.
Although seemingly reachable, the seventh is a simple par four requiring just
a fairway-metal and a wedge. A 160-yard carry off the tee will clear the trio
of traps short and left of the wide landing area. From there, just a little
pitch to a very small green remains. The difficulty are the bunkers, front,
back and right and the sloping putting surface. Let's not forget that your
distance control has to be spot on, or you're making bogey.
The shortest par three on the course, the eighth, could be the hardest. Pin
position certainly is a key ingredient to the difficulty of this hole. The
green is very shallow at 28 paces, but is quite wide at 60 yards. Three traps
present a nice target, however a ravine, fronting nearly the entire green, is
quite daunting. A front-left pin will be tough and could you imagine the wind
in your face? Better pick the right club.
In contrast, the final hole on the outward nine is the longest on the Woods
Course, as it stretches a whopping 582 yards from the back tees. Treelined
down both sides of the doglegging left fairway, the ninth requires positioning
and a little bit of length. Water comes into play as you near the green, so
lay back with your second shot to around the 100-yard mark, thus setting up a
wedge to a long, sloping green. The putting surface, which angles to the left,
is fronted by water and sand left and two traps deep. The green features a
large rise in the center, so depending upon pin position, be accurate with
The back nine is the heart and soul of the Woods Course. That's evident when
you step on the 10th tee, a dogleg-left par four. Trees guard both sides of
the fairway, that slopes from right to left. A good drive will leave a short
to mid iron to an elevated green. A ravine short of the green must be carried
to reach the putting surface, which slopes from back to front with a tier in
the center. Four well-positioned bunkers protect the green that stretches 35
yards in length. Making par here is a real bonus.
After a lengthy cart ride through the trees, the most difficult hole on the
course comes to pass. The 11th is a rugged, dogleg-right par four that
requires pinpoint accuracy with the driver. Trees and a ravine protect the
right side, so fade the ball if you must, but be careful. Your approach shot
will be made with a medium iron, played downhill to a green partially hidden
by the slope of the fairway. The putting surface is guarded by two traps right
and one deep, while the green slopes from back to front with some sneaky
undulations. Aggression is not the order of the day, make your par and move
The 12th is the signature hole of the Woods Course and rightfully so. A
beautiful par three over water to the largest green on the course. Deceiving
however, since it's part of a double green, shared by the 15th. A difficult
pot bunker splits the green in two, while one trap short and one right guard
the surface. Club selection is quite important, as anything long and right
will most certainly trundle down the hill and into the woods. This hole can be
a round-killer if playing into the wind.
The tee shot on the 13th is critical to have any shot at birdie on this
relatively short par five. Bending to the right and playing downhill, the
landing area is quite narrow and requires a serious fade off the tee. Avoiding
the fairway bunker on the left is crucial, not to mention missing the trees
and ravine on the right. The green sits well below the fairway and is guarded
in front by two deep traps and a ravine right. The play is to the left side of
the putting surface, which angles left to right. The ideal play is left of the
green where it opens up, chip close and make your putt for birdie, as you join
the screams from Busch Gardens in the background.
The par-four 14th sweeps hard to the left from the tee. The key here, like 13
is the tee ball, which must carry 230 yards over a bunker from the gold
markers to have any reasonable shot at reaching the green. Your approach shot
with a medium to long iron, plays slightly downhill to a fairly wide green
with sand on three sides, less the front. The wide opening makes this hole
Don't be fooled by the length of the 15th, as the hole plays uphill towards
the fairway and don't think that just a fairway metal will get the job done.
Take out the big stick and bomb it down the right side to set up a short iron.
The green is large, as it's shared with 12, and has three bunkers around the
right and one left. Below the hole works every time.
The 16th could certainly be considered another signature hole at the Woods
Course. A sensational, sweeping dogleg-left par five, this gem features all of
the characteristics of great design. First off, a draw from right to left is
needed to negotiate the trees right and left, not to mention the sloping
fairway. Next, serious thought must be taken into account, as you contemplate
going for the green in two. The problem, ravine and trees left and a series of
traps around the putting surface. A back-left pin could be hidden from view
when attempting your second shot. The green is fairly benign, so birdies
should be made.
The final par three on the course, the 17th plays downhill to the green and
can be affected if the wind is blowing. Club selection will be key, but
usually just a short iron should be able to land on this long, narrow green.
Sand left and right is trouble, but deep is jail, so choose wisely.
The closing hole at the Woods Course is an outstanding par four at 462 yards
in length. Doglegging sharply to the left, the hole can be had if you hit the
fairway. Trees guard the left side of the generous landing area, while sand
lays right. The approach to the green is quite picturesque, with a lake on the
right side, creeping out towards the fairway. A long sand trap sits between
the water and the green. A back-right pin could be the hardest on the course,
with sand behind the putting surface. Visually intimidating, especially when
you need par to break 80!
FINAL WORD: The Woods Course is a perfect complement to the River and
Plantation Courses at Kingsmill. In fact, it runs a very close second to the
main venue. With tees ranging from 5,100 to 6,780 yards, the Woods is for all
levels of play.
The course is a great mix of short par fours, a few reachable par fives and
some solid par threes. However, don't overlook the six par fours that stretch
over 400 yards. A great practice area, outstanding conditioning, a solid
layout and a very warm and friendly staff, what else could one ask for. How
about a return visit?
The resort has some great golf packages to chose from, not to mention the
wonderful spa, Busch Gardens and Water Country USA. Kingsmill is a resort for
all seasons and a fantastic place for the guys to take their annual trip
without their significant other. It's golf and fun without ever leaving the