D.C.-area's Augustine Golf Club poised to regain its original stature

By Travel ArticlesJune 6, 2012, 4:00 am

STAFFORD, Va. -- For Washington-area players, a trip to Augustine Golf Club is like seeing an old friend who suddenly looks robust after a long illness. The once-great course isn't quite what it used to be, but it's definitely recovered and poised to regain its original stature.

One of the premiere daily-fee facilities in the area when it opened in 1995, Augustine was a revelation. Few could have imagined a course off I-95 in non-descript, far-flung Stafford County this distinctive. Augustine is full of memorable, tree-lined, singular holes, cut through rolling timberland.

But in recent years, as its once-lush fairways turned barren, the question was whether the course would go the way of another I-95 classic, Beechtree in Aberdeen, Md., sold because the land was more valuable for housing.

In March of 2010, Raspberry Golf Management purchased Augustine and closed it for renovation, a promising development considering how the firm breathed life into struggling Bull Run Golf Club in Haymarket, increasing rounds from 17,000 in 2009 to 32,000 in 2011.

The similarities between Bull Run and Augustine are inescapable. Both are flexible designs of Rick Jacobson, aesthetically pleasing and strategic, while remaining challenging for strong golfers and playable for high-handicaps. Both opened to rave reviews, but with too many facilities and too few players in a flat market, Bull Run and Augustine eventually suffered. The proof was in their declining conditions. Bull Run was revived without closing, but bringing Augustine back took more work.

'To see it in the condition it was in was heartbreaking. It was embarrassing,' Jacobson said. 'With the deficiency of the quality of maintenance, the course really started to lose the integrity of the original design. Even the green shapes were lost. They weren't even mowing out to the edges.'

Augustine Golf Club: The course

Irrigation and drainage work was extensive. Roughly 1,000 trees were removed. Greens and bunkers were redone. Bermuda grass was added. With little fanfare, Augustine re-opened in April 2012.

Former fans will be happy to hear that the routing -- through a rapidly growing housing development -- remains undisturbed. With a thick buffer of woods, surrounding homes never come into play and rarely into view.

The holes remain intact, but with the tree removal, some are less visually intimidating. An example is the split-fairway first. The cart path used to run through the woods, but now the tree line has migrated outside, opening up the fairway.

Augustine Golf Club is the first solo work of Jacobson, but he showed an uncanny ability to design strategic holes. The sloped fairways at Augustine are wide and friendly, many funneling balls toward the center. But most tee shots require careful consideration as there are penalties for the greedy.

An example is No. 11, a par 5 split diagonally by an environmental area. A long iron or hybrid to the fat part of the fairway makes this a safe, three-shot hole. But a driver or 3 wood to the narrowing end of the fairway introduces risk and reward, as the hole can be reached in two shots.

Augustine still has rough patches on the perimeter. Some tees, fairways and surrounds are thin, but expect those to fill in as the heat-resistant Bermuda grass grows in this summer. The large bentgrass greens are smooth, true and in tremendous shape, reminiscent of a decade ago.

Augustine Golf Club: The verdict

Returning to Augustine Golf Club after a long hiatus was a pleasant experience for Keith Cotner, of Manassas.

'I would definitely go back,' Cotner said. 'One thing I really like about Augustine is everything is right there -- the clubhouse, parking lot, driving range, first tee -- all a few steps from each other.'

For Cotner, it was like seeing an old friend, back on his feet and thriving.

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 17, 2018, 3:00 pm

Tiger Woods teed off at 12:15PM ET alongside Justin Rose for Round 3 of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.