Colonial Williamsburg, golf and crabcakes


During a golf trip to Virginia’s under-the-radar Golden Horseshoe courses, I honestly didn’t think I’d find nearby Colonial Williamsburg’s historic district that intriguing. American history is fascinating, I thought — post-British rule, that is.

And while I most enjoyed my two-and-a-half rounds on Golden Horseshoe’s Gold and Green courses during my three days last month (temperatures in the mid-to-upper 70s, by the way; sorry to rub it in), the food and quirky re-enactors of “Duke of Gloucester Street” were a novel attraction to mark off the grand list of attractions that America has to offer. It’s memorable is what I’m trying to say.

There are more than the fair share of shall I say “history buffs” who come to Gloucester Street. (On the last day, we were touring the neighborhood coffee shop — have the melted chocolate instead of the coffee — and the town apothecary, re: drug store, when a goofy woman asked a writer acquaintance of mine why he was carrying a notebook. He goes, “I’m a writer.” It’s always a mistake to tell someone you’re a writer, as the following will show. “Oh, really? Who’s your favorite authors? Name your five favorite authors,” the goofy woman demanded. “Ah, ah, I don’t know,” the writer replied. “But you’re a writer,” goofy woman. And after an uncomfortable few moments, writer: “I’m a writer, not a reader.” Fair enough, I guess. They both deserved the conversation they got.)

But for those with even a passing interest in history, the very knowledgeable re-enactors give tons of insight in times before electricity and the Constitution and representative government and all the jazz of the past 220 or so years. And the food, oh, yea, the food. Seafood dishes, with much of the fare fresh from nearby Chesapeake Bay, is worth the price. And often, that price is fairly high. But at least, you get some real good food for the price. I ate at Campbell’s Tavern the first night, a restaurant with re-enactors providing pre-meal Colonial era anecdotes and post-meal Colonial era violin diddies. The fun part was how quickly one adapts to dining by candle light. No electricity, remember?

While I couldn’t baffle any re-enactors with my knowledge of British-rule America, the courses at Golden Horseshoe baffled my golf game enough for the whole trip’s worth of confusion. As a high handicapper, I knew that a nice score on the beautifully-groomed but challenging Gold course was unlikely.

My score of 106 after a 7:50 a.m. flight from Philadelphia was mildly acceptable. I pulled out an often-used excuse of mine that playing a beautiful course always takes some of the sting out of a triple digit score. (I did shoot a 50 on the back.)

I played that round with a scratch golfer and one of the course pros, Greg Lynch, who was kind enough to remark that he liked at least one part of my game: “You know what I like about your game, Brian? When it’s your turn to play, you’re ready to hit. There’s no wasting anytime.” Or something like that. It was a nice guy’s way of saying, thanks for not slowing us down. I accept all compliments, Greg.

The Green course the following morning was easier after a night’s rest and despite a 6 on one par 3 and an 8 on the par-5 18th, I shot a 102. More importantly, I partnered up with scratch golfer and golf blogger John Duval to beat fellow high handicapper Dave Lair (also a golf blogger) and an Englishman teaching professional Simon Clough (a true gentleman who I recently found out holds a world record: check out the link and go to 1992) in a match. Any golf round in which you win a free beer is a great round indeed.

I’d recommend it to anyone with a long weekend and a few hundred bucks to spend, particularly if you have a couple kids in middle school who like to play golf. Send the wife off to the top-notch Spa of Williamsburg right next to the Golden Horseshoe complex — splurge on a $260 massage for her if you want to play a round on your own the next day — and meet her back in the hotel lounge to ready for dinner.


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