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Golden Horseshoe Brings the Past Face To Face With the Present

By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Contributor

Williamsburg, VA - I'm not a big fan of riddles, but I'm wondering if you can tell me what the number eighteen, Golf Magazine, Pinehurst North Carolina, Thomas Jefferson, Mauna Kea Hawaii, Robert Trent Jones, Gold Medals, and the Golden Horseshoe resort have in common.

The simple answer, if you've been there, is that Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia has a virtually unparalleled golf and tourist destination-one that competes favorably with the elite of American golf to give the visitor a complete resort destination. It's hard to say it more clearly-when you come to the Golden Horseshoe, you have it all.

A great place to start is the resort's two championship golf courses (it also has an award winning nine hole executive course), both of which have received high honors amongst America's finest. Golf Magazine grades golf resorts-awards them medals, just as an athlete would receive on the winners' podium in the Olympics. The Golden Horseshoe resort received a Gold Medal rating from the magazine, one of only eighteen in the entire United States, and is grouped in with such golf meccas as Pinehurst and Pebble Beach.

Taking a moment to ponder such a concept, you have to think that coming here is a pretty special event in itself. Leaving here, you know it's no hyperbole to say that this place deserves everything that's said about it.

The drive into the resort takes you past the historic area of Colonial Williamsburg. It was here in 1776 that the House of Burgesses of the Virginia Colony voted to join the other 12 colonies in declaring its independence from England. The 'big names' of history once walked these streets-Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Peyton Randolph (President of the First Continental Congress for you non-history buffs) and Patrick Henry, amongst others.

The restored historic state capital still has 88 original buildings (and a number of authentically rebuilt ones) that date back to 1775, and the town lives in a perpetual timewarp recreating what it was like to live through and debate the greatest issues of our young nation-freedom vs. tyranny.

Not only can you stroll the sacred streets, you can take active part in any number of activities the 'living museum' presents at any given time. You can act as a juror
in a colonial trial, hear authentic period stories told by interpreters in character, attend the Royal Governor's palace ball, or listen to a blacksmith describing his craft. If you're really motivated, you can man a musket and be yelled at by a drill instructor who will take a half-hour to try and make a Continental soldier out of you. Good luck.

Across the street and a mere nine iron shot away from the town's armory is the Golden Horseshoe resort, which features a Robert Trent Jones design, the Gold course-and a Rees Jones design, the Green course. As the founding fathers once strolled the wide avenues of Williamsburg, the most famous names in golf came to challenge the Golden Horseshoe.

Perhaps the greatest player of all time (after what Tiger's done lately, even Jack deserves only a 'perhaps'), Jack Nicklaus, still holds the record on the elder Jones' Gold course, a 67 he shot in 1967.

In other words, history is all around. One cannot help but be caught up in the theme of the place-and only the catatonic could help but feel awed by the significance of what's happened here. It felt like an honor just walking onto the first tee. The honor didn't fade on or off the links.

The resort itself features several different types of accommodations, suitable for heads of state, down to the average American family. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation was started in the 1920's by John D. Rockefeller, and seeks to preserve the historic town to serve as a living history museum for future generations to come. Not only does the town possess those 88 original buildings, it also features accommodations, eateries, and shopping that will please even the most particular of contemporary tastes.

The most luxurious of all is the world-renowned Williamsburg Inn, which has hosted such notables as Margaret Thatcher and the President of China when he
visited. The Inn provides luxurious rooms, and will pamper the guest with all the decadent delights that only a five star resort can offer.

Located near the Williamsburg Inn and in and around the Colonial area are Colonial Williamsburg's historic buildings accommodations. Here, guests can reside in a restored historic building (or a room in one) that features period recreations for furniture-but also enjoy all the modern comforts.

These residences are ideal for a true taste of what it was like to live in the historic times, without having to worry about sharing the floors of a tavern with other travelers. It's nice to know that the hard work the founding fathers' put in to creating this nation has paid dividends-now we not only have freedom, but privacy and comfort too!

Across the street from the Inn and directly opposite the Gold Course's clubhouse is the Williamsburg Lodge. Here you will find more modest hotel accommodations that are suitable for families-and priced accordingly. But the level of service hardly drops-it's difficult to go through a door without it being opened for you, and every question or statement from the staff begins or ends with 'sir.' I doubt George Washington received any higher level of treatment or attention.

Upon arrival, we were invited to a reception that's given weekly by the resort for newly arrived guests. We were warmly greeted by the Lobby Manager, Robin Walls, and served wine and hors d'oeuvres. In addition to describing all the resort could offer, Ms. Walls graciously offered to accommodate us in any way she could-and that message was generously echoed by the entire staff throughout our stay.

It would be difficult to list the complete array of entertainments that the Golden Horseshoe and Colonial Williamsburg offers. There simply isn't enough time or space to list it all here-but it can be summed up in a few thoughts. The few square miles that encompasses the Colonial Williamsburg historic district as well as the Golden Horseshoe golf courses is about as fine a resort destination as you can find anywhere.

Where else can you find world class accommodations, accompanying world class golf, the finest service, finest dining, and a valuable history lesson?

The answer to the riddle is easy. Colonial Williamsburg and the Golden Horseshoe. Take a trip back in time for the opportunity to see how fine the present can be.

Williamsburg Lodge
310 S. England St.
Williamsburg, VA 23185
Phone: 800-HISTORY
Web: www.history.org

Jeffrey A. RendallJeffrey A. Rendall, Contributor

Jeffrey Rendall is an avid golfer and freelance writer. After passing the California Bar in 1994, he moved to Virginia to pursue his interests in history and politics, where he's worked since 1995.

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