This beautiful and challenging 7,138-yard course gets off to a roaring start. “I don’t particularly like forced carries on any hole, if I can help it,” says golf course architect Tom Fazio. “But the play over the water on the first tee just turned out to be the best way to route the course. We felt the drama of the property, with the club house and the beauty of the marsh, and the view—that spot would be the obvious place to put the first hole.” After clearing the water, players must still deal with the rolling nature of the fairway as it proceeds toward the large and relatively flat putting surface on this 429-yard, par-4 opener. If you miss, bail to the right front, as left and long will test your bunker or escape-artists skills immediately.
The front side is open, giving players plenty of room to drive the ball. But there are few trees and the open landscape means the wind can really blow this close to the ocean, so there’s always plenty of challenge out on the course. The slightly downhill 151-yard, par-3 fifth is the easiest hole on the outward half, and one of the most attractive. A trio of bunkers await the windblown tee ball, especially one that threatens the water on the right.
“When the wind blows hard, it makes the greens even faster, and you’ve really got to concentrate on hitting the correct spots on the putting surfaces,” says PGA Head Professional Dean Hurst. “To me, our course is the way golf’s meant to be played, in the old Scottish tradition of feeling the elements and working the course and the wind.”
The 401-yard, par-4 eighth hole features a green surrounded by hillocks and run-off zones where a slightly mis-hit ball will keep running farther and farther away from the flagstick. You must clear the two guardian bunkers down front to achieve the short grass, but knock it too far over and you’ll be chipping downhill and back to the green.
The 352-yard (from all the way back), par-4 ninth is a shining example of Fazio’s forté—a challenging short par-4. “What I think Fazio does better than anyone else is design really good short par fours, like our ninth hole,” contributes club pro Hurst. “You’ll probably have a short iron into the green, and it doesn’t look all that threatening, but you can spin the ball right off the front of the green into the waste area if you’re not careful.”
Make your good scores on the front because the course steps it up a notch when you make the turn. Not only are the holes more challenging and beautiful, but water plays a larger part in their design. And it becomes harder and harder to believe this was a perfectly flat dairy farm when Fazio began. A lake divides holes eleven and twelve, two par-4s of nearly equal length. But number twelve is a classic with the lake bordering the entire left side. The island tees are framed by native fescues and the green is elevated several feet above the high water level on this 421-yard, par-4. From all the way back you’ll need to cross the water twice—once with your tee ball and again on the approach. Stay away from the left side, as a ball turning right to left could cascade off the green’s embankment and find the waterway.
The 228-yard, par-3 thirteenth is another of the four outstanding par-3s on the layout—and perhaps the best. It reminds visitors of Augusta National for its natural beauty and difficulty.
The 520-yard, par-5 fifteenth begins a stimulating march home. Carry the lake with your tee ball and half your problems are over, just don’t carry the green with your third or you’ll be gazing at the marsh and taking a drop. The hole that follows may be Bayville’s signature offering—a par three that stretches to 208 yards from all the way back, or 117 yards from all the way forward. Cradled by Pleasure House Creek on three sides, the slightly elevated and narrow green is abundantly bunkered—any recovery shot will need to be played with a deft touch to leave a simple par putt on the level carpet.
“I hesitate to use the term signature hole,” says Hurst, “but if there was one, it would be sixteen. If you’re standing out on that point, you’re in a high-density area of Virginia Beach, yet there’s nothing around you. You can see for quite a long way. It’s a unique feeling.” The green surround is a favorite spot for wildlife as well as golfers, and watching egrets, osprey or hawks dine on the local cuisine may give you pause from the game at hand.
Seventeen is a rigorous par-4 of 464 yards, and if the wind is against you its darn near impossible to reach the green in regulation. You’ll have a better chance at that on the 548-yard, par-5 closer. The barns that act as a beacon at the hole’s conclusion set the tone at Bayville—a laid back tract where only hard work and perseverance will harvest a score to be proud of.
Bayville's long-range comprehensive Tom Fazio MASTER PLAN will ensure that members will continue to enjoy the highest standards of maintenance and playability for many years to come.