The planning and construction of the Mattaponi Springs golf course took quite some time before it opened in 2004. After it had been surveyed and purchased, it took another two years to clear the site then a year each for drainage, irrigation, shaping and sodding the fairways with Zoysia grass before yet another year was allowed for grow-in.
Owner Jim Oliff, a North Virginian lawyer, worked very closely with architect Bob Lohmann to ensure his golfing dream came to life exactly as he envisioned it. Indeed, the owner – who took such a hands-on approach that he used almost all his own people and equipment during construction – wanted every aspect of the project done properly, no matter how much time it took.
Oliff's course fits easily within a sizeable 340-acre property and even though there's plenty of space for two 18-hole layouts, he's built a course to fit the land, not the opposite way round. With tree-lined fairways that climb steeply and plunge sharply in and out of little valleys, Mattaponi Springs blends into the landscape beautifully. One commentator, when asked to describe the playing experience replied that, "you're not playing a golf course as much as you're playing the rolling, rocky Virginia countryside".Two par fours on the course are particularly memorable. The 455-yard 9th hole resembles a roller coaster track with steep rises and plunging dips as the fairway doglegs right to a rock walled green that lies behind a creek. The 413-yard 11th offers a strategic risk-reward choice where the narrow fairway to the right of the landing area offers an easier approach to a green sitting on a little ridge.
We've played Mattaponi twice, and since its an hour + away from my home in Northern Virginia along the 1-95 corridor, we try to play either 27 or 36 holes that day. It is a well conditioned and fun course. Given the elevation changes, hazards and green sites, it requires thinking through the hole and club selection. Unusual for VA courses, it is sand based (or sand capped) rather than clay based soil. Many of the holes are separated by pine trees, instead of the hardwoods that most courses in the area were carved out of. Since it has no housing, it is really aesthetically pleasing. A variety of short, long and mid sized holes. 9 and 18 are very similar - steep drop off after the tee shot then an approach over a hazard. Familiarity would definitely help pull the right club on a number of holes. If it was closer we would definitely play it more often.