Virginia women’s golf coach Ria Scott believes the program’s redesigned Birdwood Golf Course will elevate both the Cavaliers’ men’s and women’s golf teams.
“It’s the best in our conference from what I know and one of the best in the country,” Scott told The Daily Progress in late June, “so it’s a real game changer for the teams.”
The game-changing course is now officially open.
It’s been about a month since the course’s reopening, and the reception from members and guests has been positive thus far.
“The reopening has gone extremely well,” Martin Winters, Birdwood’s PGA director of golf, said. “I think generally it’s been overwhelming positive feedback about the course, the staff, all the new facilities. People are happy, and I think part of it too is just being without a course for almost two years, but then also the excitement of watching the renovation.”
After the long renovation process, the course is complete and open to the public. Even with COVID-19, the course and clubhouse are used similarly to other years.
Pins remain in holes, however, as a small Styrofoam-like circle sits at the bottom of each hole. This ensures the ball doesn’t drop all the way into the hole, making it easier to remove without touching the bottom of the cup, along with every other golfer.
Clubhouse staff and cart attendants are among the staff members who wear masks. It’s slightly different, but the on-course experience feels familiar.
When it comes to the course, there are noticeable changes, which Winters believes are all for the better. Holes have been redesigned, utilizing the land to showcase scenic views. Amenities, such as carts with GPS systems to help with yardages and a large putting course for practice, are also new additions.
“I think truly they love the aesthetics, the beautiful views that you get almost everywhere on the golf course,” Winters said of those who have played the course. “They were there on the old course, but you just couldn’t see them. We changed elevations and did some clearing, got rid of some invasive species to open up those views.”
The course also features six sets of tees, allowing it to host top-tier players from the tips at a distance of 7,116 yards. The shortest tees check in at 3,856 yards, allowing beginners to play the course without needing to hit the ball far.
While those who have visited have shared positive thoughts with Winters, the UVa golf programs have yet to arrive in Charlottesville.
The ACC recently canceled fall athletic competition for golf programs. While the teams can practice in Charlottesville – and golf is deemed a low-risk sport by the ACC – there won’t be any tournaments for the men’s or women’s golf programs this fall.
When the Cavaliers do tee it up again competitively, it’ll be close to a year since they last played competitive team events.
Fortunately for the players, their upcoming arrival in Charlottesville brings the opportunity to compete amongst each other at a championship-level course. They’ll be tested by multiple holes with hazards, while also taking on a few short Par 4s offering scoring chances.
The facility UVa’s golf programs hope to use to develop into national title contenders is now open and available for use.
“Our guys are going to have a lot to work with,” men’s golf head coach Bowen Sargent told The Daily Progress in late June.