The Front Nine

Birdwood Golf Course

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.  

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 the course. 

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.