On Potomac Shores Golf Club – A Matter Of Vision

On Monday, May 5, the general public will get their first chance to play the brand new Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course at Potomac Shores in Prince William County. This course is one of the reasons why my wife and I bought our home way back in 2000. Ownership of the land changed a number of times since then. Originally, the property was part of the development where we live, but that developer sold the land to another developer who split the land off into a separate development. Well, that developer morphed into another company before hitting a brick wall when the housing bubble burst in 2008. Finally, a new developer took over in 2011 and ushered it through to completion.

Along the way while I served as president of my HOA, I negotiated an agreement with one of the developers (and was careful enough to get them to record it in the deed with the county) that our community would have the same privileges at the course that their residents would have. This past Saturday it all paid off as I and several of my neighbors were given the opportunity to play one of the first rounds on a special preview day. It truly is a spectacular course.

Virtucon’s friend Greg L. from the Black Velvet Bruce Li blog joined me and had this to say in his review of the Potomac Shores Golf Club course:

If you are a golfer, go play Potomac Shores in Dumfries, which opens to the public on Monday. I was there for an advance opening event today and loved the course. Absolutely beautiful, brilliantly laid out, tough, fair and quite surprising. No tricks or contrived difficulties, just straight-up challenging holes, and deep bunkers, FAST, sloped greens where accuracy and caution is rewarded, and mistakes aren’t punished more than they should be.

I have never played a course this honest. No tricks or gimmicks, or compromises on holes based on where they could squeeze something in. Everything is well thought out giving you a straight-up challenge and you have to pick where your skills can play. It’s really tough and you have to respect it because it’ll punish your bad shots pretty hard, but in the way you see tour pros get punished for missing a fairway or landing in a bunker. Makes you feel like you’re in the same boat as the pros without crazy narrow fairways, ridiculous carries or goofy blind shots that I see on lesser courses. This’ll be a PGA tour stop without a doubt. If not, the PGA is nuts.

Here are a few photos of the course itself (click on them for larger pictures):

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One of my neighbors who was also playing with us just gazed in awe at one of the holes and said, “Who would have thought…” and after a dramatic pause added, “certainly not [Potomac Dist. Supervisor] Maureen Caddigan.”

Why did he say this? Let’s go back in time to 2001 when the vote was held to rezone the property for this…

The Washington Post

January 18, 2001, p. B5

Pr. William Approves $3 Billion Development Along Potomac

by Steven Ginsberg

“Shortly before 3 a.m. yesterday, an hour or two before many Prince William residents awoke to begin their long commutes north, a divided Board of County Supervisors approved a $3 billion development that supporters say will create thousands of high-paying jobs and revitalize the county’s eastern edge.

“The 5 to 3 vote to approve rezoning for Southbridge at Cherry Hill followed hours of heated public testimony for and against the project. The vote would allow 2,500 new homes, more than 3 million square feet of commercial space and an 18-hole golf course — all arranged around a 1,700-acre, Reston-style town center on what is now a forested bluff overlooking the Potomac River.

“If the plans are completed over the next 20 years, Cherry Hill also will include hotels, a telecommuting center, a cultural arts center, a library, movie theaters and a commuter rail station — all told, a development twice as big as Reston Town Center is today.

. . .

“The supervisors who voted against the project — Chairman Sean T. Connaughton (R-At Large), Ruth T. Griggs (R-Occoquan) and Maureen S. Caddigan (R-Dumfries) — said they were worried Cherry Hill won’t be built as planned and won’t realize the lofty vision of its backers.

This was a critical vote in 2001 in determining the future of eastern Prince William County that is coming to fruition now.  Three supervisors voted against the rezoning of what is now Potomac Shores – a vote against more than 3 million square feet of additional commercial space in the county, a vote against 2,500 homes that have a positive tax base, a vote against steering new development away from the Rural Crescent, a vote against a new VRE station, a vote against a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course.

I give the bulk of the credit to former Woodbridge Supervisor Hilda Barg (D) who has worked tirelessly on developing this property for the past 30 years. As someone who had just purchased a home in Southbridge in September 2000 and was awaiting its delivery at the time, I and many other residents urged Caddigan to vote to approve the rezoning. Needless to say, we were very disappointed that she did not listen to us, but were pleased that the majority on the Board of Supervisors shared our vision of what was possible and desirable.

Undoubtedly, Supervisor Caddigan will try to say that she voted against this because she didn’t think the original developer Legend Properties could deliver, but that is irrelevant.  Legend sold the land to KSI / Kettler which undertook the development and it eventually was bought by SunCal with the first homes completed and occupied now.  That is how the development game is played, pure and simple. It all has to start somewhere and it begins with the initial rezoning.

However, if Caddigan had gotten her way, there would be no Potomac Shores today. It is just that simple. That, my friends, is what happens when we elect someone who is not capable of envisioning the grand.