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The 18-Hole Championship Course

Birdwood Golf Course In Charlottesville, VA

The goal of the Birdwood design team was for the course “to always feel like it has been here.” Davis Love III, along with his brother Mark Love and course architect Scot Sherman, used references of courses from all over the world in designing Birdwood. In particular, the courses designed by architect Seth Raynor and his mentor, C.B. Macdonald, were consistently used as models for the holes. Raynor and Macdonald often used “template holes,” which were holes modeled after the features of great holes in Europe and translated them in a fashion that would become the basis of American golf course architecture. Scot Sherman, who trained under Pete and Alice Dye early in his career, has worked on some of the best collegiate courses in the country and has teamed with Love Golf Design to create courses at Sea Pines and Sea Island resorts and the Belmont Golf Course in Richmond.  

When working to redesign our golf course in Charlottesville, VA, Love Golf Design took advantage of undeveloped land to create several new holes, many of which are on the front nine. View the video below to see the highlights of these new holes. The back nine at Birdwood Golf Course is as scenic as it gets. A true highlight of these holes is number 17 where golfers must navigate an overly memorable par-3 shot that lies in the shadows of the historic Birdwood homestead.

The Front Nine

The beauty of Birdwood Golf shines as the front-nine holes provide an amazingly picturesque landscape.

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The Back Nine

The back-nine at Birdwood Golf has three distinct holes that run adjacent to the historic Birdwood Mansion.

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Hole One

With a nod of appreciation to the original Birdwood layout, the first hole is very similar to the former starting hole. The panoramic view of the Virginia countryside starts here and carries throughout the course.

Hole Two

The only par-5 on the front nine features Morey Creek guarding the green. The design team wanted to bring a risk-reward shot into play early in the round. An aggressive play for the green in two is possible, but the bunker and natural grassy creek bank collect wayward shots.

Hole Three

Course architect Scot Sherman referenced his mentor with the third hole. The 18th hole at Pete Dye Golf Club in Bridgeport, West Virginia, has a similar relationship between fairway and pond. The trees in the distance help align the partially blind tee shot, but it is still one of the most difficult shots on our golf course in Charlottesville, VA.

Hole Four

As the first of the three Seth Raynor/C.B. Macdonald template holes, the fourth references the famous Leven holes, particularly the 17th at National Golf Links. The preferred line to approaching the green must engage the fairway bunkers and pine trees. The safer line on the left of this broad fairway leaves a challenging approach over the greenside bunker with water looming behind.  

Hole Five

The next template hole is the reverse cape fifth.  The ultimate risk-reward tee shot, this hole plays most similarly to Macdonald’s fifth hole at Mid Ocean Golf Club in Bermuda where it is rumored that Babe Ruth once put 20 balls in the lake trying to drive the green.   

Hole Six

The sixth is a short par-4 with wetlands flanking the entire left side of the fairway.  During construction, a large rock shelf was discovered requiring the design team to shift the green complex forward to its current location.  

Hole Seven

Course architect Scot Sherman called the seventh a “field hole,” or a par-3 where the strategy would need to be developed in the field. The views from the tees back toward Ragged Mountain are memorable.  

Hole Eight

Number eight is the most talked about hole at Birdwood, and it seems golfers either love or hate the challenge of the hole. The strategic layup is crucial to give yourself the best chance to clear the ravine. The green is the smallest on the course and is essentially an island surrounded by native rocks and natural areas.

Hole Nine

The last of the template holes, the ninth is a direct reference to the famed “Biarritz hole” frequently used by Macdonald and Raynor. Similar to the ninth at The Course at Yale, the ninth at Birdwood requires an accurate long tee shot. The length of the green with a swale in the middle can cause a range of four to five clubs for any particular pin placement.  

Hole 10

The 10th is the longest hole on the course, and the first of three par-5 holes on the back nine. One of Davis Love III’s favorite holes, he personally directed the shaping of the fairway to open up the view of the green for the long player. The green may be one of the most memorable at Birdwood with a deep swale bisecting the front half. 

Hole 11

One of the most beautiful holes on the course, the 11th is reminiscent of a few of Dye’s picturesque par-3 holes at Whistling Straits. From the tee, there seems to be nowhere to land the ball but the green. Bunkers that help offline shots and a gentle green make this hole play a bit easier than the golfer initially anticipates.  

Hole 12

Probably the most popular hole at Birdwood, the tee shot from the top of the ridge of number 12 has the benefit of one of the widest fairways on the course. Going for the green in two could leave the player with a tricky chip from the collection area left of the green.   

Hole 13

The “buried elephant” in the middle of the 13th green was a design change from the original concept of having a bunker in the middle of the green like the 6th at Riviera. The green contouring is the trick to this par-3, where two-putts are a challenge.  

Hole 14

The 14th is one of the most challenging holes on the course. The native area to the right of the fairway is now more in play on the approach shot. The view of the iconic water tower at the Birdwood Mansion comes into view from the green.

Hole 15

The last of the challenging par-5 holes, the 15th requires a tee shot through a chute of trees, and the fairway seems to get narrower all the way to the green.  The creek on the right is a challenge to wayward approach shots. The smallest bunker on the course guards the front right pin placement.  

Hole 16

Davis Love III wanted a legitimate drivable par-4 late in the round to give the player one last chance at birdie. The catalpa tree to the right of the green is one of the oldest on the course and impacts shots from as far out as 125 yards. The small pot bunker in the middle of the fairway provides a risk or reward to the tee shot, but the view across the pond of the Birdwood Mansion is one of the most photographed spots on the course.

Hole 17

The final of a diverse collection of par-3 holes, the 17th is guarded by the beautiful wall that was built from the native rock removed during construction. The water tower and the Birdwood Mansion built between 1819 and 1830 make for a memorable setting.

Hole 18

The final hole on the course is long, uphill and plays into the prevailing wind. One of the few truly uphill approach shots on the course adds drama to the closing hole. Par is always a good finishing score on the 18th at Birdwood.