About Keswick HallLocated near Charlottesville, Virginia, Keswick Hall is a historic property dating back to 1912 and near the famous Monticello estate home to Thomas Jefferson. The club features a main building that was extensively renovated in 2020 and features 38 luxury rooms and suites. The renovation also included a new spa with eight treatment rooms, plus a fitness center with cycling studio. The golf course, Full Cry at Keswick Hall, was designed by architect Pete Dye and is available only to Keswick members and hotel guests. The "Full Cry" name pays homage to the area's rich hunting dog history.
Golf courses at Keswick Hall
Images from Keswick Hall
The Fusion of Southern Hospitality and Premiere Resort Golf
I was fortunate enough to be invited to play Full Cry at Keswick Hall and will always remember it not just for a great round at an excellent course but for the hospitality and elite staff that I would put on par with the finest clubs in America. Since the course was catering specifically to the outing I was a part of I’ll try to focus mostly on the elements any resort guest would experience here.
First and foremost, this is one of my favorite Pete Dye layouts. Tough but fair is the way to describe the design and how the course plays. Classic Dye elements are everywhere from coffin bunkers to sharp drop-offs next to the greens to railroad ties. There’s even a repurposed train car made into a bridge that gets you over the small ravine on the 16th hole. But there's little to get overly frustrated about, unlike a lot of Dye's courses. Fairways are generally wide open and many have helpful slopes that border them, rewarding a near-miss and guiding it back into play. There are also slopes near many of the greens that guide balls towards the flagstick. That's not to say this course is a walk in the park. Many of the bunkers--both fairway and greenside--are well-placed and there’s certainly a few you may not notice until you hit your ball towards one! I also liked the layout of the tee boxes, with plenty of options for all skill levels, and really only forced carries from the longer tees on most of the holes.
The conditions are very, very good as well. Just a small point of critique but nothing that impacts your play. Tee boxes, fairways, and bunkers are all nearly immaculate. I particularly enjoyed the sand in the bunkers that had a satisfying weight to it--not too fluffy, not too heavy. Greens are exceptional, some of the best bentgrass greens in the area that were a good speed (8.5-9) and perfectly smooth. Putts generally rolled straighter than the line appeared but there were still a good amount of longer putts made by our group.
The rough was clumpy in some spots but where it was lush, it was excellent, nice Bermuda grass that kept the ball propped up near the green where it’s cut shorter. Balls do bury a bit further out on either side of the fairways.
The facilities here are world-class and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better staff anywhere. The course adds a lot of small touches that really make the experience a special one. This is a stay-to-play course and it’s not a cheap stay but absolutely worth it if you come. Nearby Spring Creek has the “best Charlottesville area public course” award locked up, but for those looking for a more exclusive experience, it doesn’t get better than Keswick Hall.
Not your Daddy’s Keswick
What a treat! I played here 46 years ago. What a dog track then. Now it is a glorious golf experience. Beautiful open layout with generous fairways, large greens that were rolling about 10-11 but fair in contour. Not greatly fond of the real short par 4’s because it was too risky to hit driver. Oh, free water and $2 for a Gatorade! Not bad for a ritzy joint.
This course beats the other Charlottesville tracks, Birdwood (under renovation), Farmington and Old Trail. Need to stay there or be Member I think.
Pete Dye at his best
This may rank as one of my all-time favorite Pete Dye courses, and it certainly proves that not all Dye courses break you down physically and mentally. I didn't say it was easy, but it is very playable, especially if you tackle the right tees. I played it one day a tee up and the next day from the tips and there was a nine-stroke difference. Regardless, like many Dye courses, the holes get harder as you work your way close to the greens. Approaches and short game are the key because there's plenty of room to drive the ball, so that shouldn''t be an issue. I never played the course that was here prior to Dye's new layout, but I've got to believe this is 100 times better.
I'm used to having a 'good cry' on Pete Dye designs...
The brand new course at Keswick Club, Full Cry by Pete Dye, pays homage to the term of hunting hounds in hot pursuit of a scent. Keswick is not only minutes from Thomas Jefferson's Monticello but also in the neighborhood of a hunt club (during one of my rounds here, there were about 30 hounds out for some morning exercise next in a lot next to the 2nd hole).
It's no doubt a surreal part of Virginia, minutes from Charlottesville, and the setting along with Dye's design makes for a fabulous walk. Only members of Keswick Club, their guests and guests of 48-room Keswick Hall overlooking the course can play here, and a round here is quite the experience.
Dye's design, which sits atop a former Palmer design from the 1990s, is more walkable and, surprisingly enough, less penal for amateur players thanks to fewer forced carries and elevated greens. Bump-and-running is encouraged here and surfaces are firm and fast. Like most Dye courses this is a second shot golf course, thanks to small, well-guarded greens and plenty of sand. The hole variety is exceptional, thanks to a collection of super par 5s plus a trio of short par 4s that are drivable off the tee if you crank a good one. Also, it's more walkable than it used to be, though there are few flat spots on the course thanks to both natural hills and Dye's manmade moguls.
All-in-all, it's a Dye design that in fact will hardly leave you whimpering.