Golf

How to make the most of a stay-and-play weekend in Charlottesville

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Keswick Hall is everything you can ask for in a stay-and-play resort, and its close proximity to Charlottesville means there’s lots to do.
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Welcome to our “Where I Played” series, where a GOLF staffer runs through a recent day at a course you might play in your future. On this occasion, we’re teeing it up at Keswick Hall and Golf Club in Keswick, Va. 
Whenever I receive an out-of-town wedding invitation, my first thought is always the same: Can I turn this into a golf weekend? I know I’m not alone here. This summer a wedding brought me to the Charlottesville, Va., area, and Keswick Hall was on my list.
I pulled into Keswick in the morning, as a glimmer of moonlight helped me navigate through quiet, countryside roads. On more than one occasion, I thought Google Maps got this one wrong. Then Keswick magically appeared out of the darkness — and I knew I was in for a luxurious stay.  
Located less than 20 minutes from Charlottesville, this Blue Ridge Mountain escape features top-notch golf and southern hospitality. Keswick’s location allowed me to enjoy all that Charlottesville had to offer. It was a best-of-both-worlds weekend. Here’s what you need to know about it.
Keswick’s course is named Full Cry, inspired by the “full cry” of hunting hounds that have a long history in this region. Just beyond the property gates is Keswick Hunt Club, and every morning its hounds can be heard taking their walk.
Pete Dye designed Full Cry, which is the ninth-ranked course in the state. It should be noted I have a love-hate relationship with “Prickly Pete.” Dye’s courses create some of the most fun and frustrating holes in golf. I’m always left feeling exhilarated that I withstood the challenge or contemplating why I spend so much time playing this game. When it comes to Full Cry, I thought it was one of the more well-balanced Dye courses I’ve ever played. 
His fingerprints and classic design details can be felt throughout. At the same time, it plays to a great balance of hard but fair. Small bunkers and wooden planks cause trouble, while open-front greens allow scoring opportunities if you play your cards right. But beware: firm and fast greens await!
Full Cry, which is only available to members and resort guests, is full of peace and quiet in the best way possible. Enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountain views on your way out and the impressive Keswick Hall Resort buildings on the way in. The view on the 18th tee box will stick with you.
This may sound strange, but I knew the room would be special the moment I opened the door, which was big and felt like it weighed a metric ton. You don’t use doors like that unless something special sits behind it.
The rooms and resort have a hybrid style of southern plantation and modern farmhouse. Its vintage craftsmanship meshes well with sleek finishes. All of the 48 rooms comes with a private balcony overlooking the golf course and mountains. (Wake up to watch the sunrise on the patio. Trust me.)
Keswick is pricey, with $300-$1,200/nightly rates, but the quality of golf and accommodations live up to its price tag. Plus, you can snag a good deal by securing a spot on the low end of the price range.
Or if you want to stay in the heart of Charlottesville, the Omni, a traditional hotel option, and Quirk Hotel, a more modern approach, are in ideal walking distance locations to downtown. 
The infinity pool perched up high on Keswick’s property overlooks the golf course and was my favorite spot at Keswick. Take a swim, hang out against the ledge to soak in a postcard view or lounge and grab a bite/drink from the poolside bar. It’s all tough to beat.
There’s also a newly constructed tennis facility, with proper space for the tennis club membership, and adjacent basketball courts. There’s also kid-friendly activities for family fun, or you can elect for quality self-care time at the spa.
On top of the convenient poolside food options, celebrity chef Jean-Georges opened the Instagram-worthy Marigold on Keswick’s property. You can’t go wrong by sitting by the fire pits out front, inside the rustic oasis or on the patio overlooking the golf course. There’s not a bad seat or meal to be found.
Unlike the golf course, Marigold is open to the public and well worth the visit. 
If you only have time for one dinner in Charlottesville, make it at C&O — but make a reservation early. A table can be hard to come by on weekends. Though once you’re in, you’re in for a real treat. 
Crawford’s at Keswick is all you want in a hotel cocktail bar. The drinks are creative, and the space is comfortable. Grab a seat at the bar, take your drink into the game room, snag a cozy seat throughout the lobby or hop out onto the patio. You don’t need to leave Keswick to find a good watering hole.
However, my favorite spot for a stiff drink was at The Alley Light. Tucked away on a side street in downtown Charlottesville, it’s worth waiting for a seat at the bar, where you can watch some expert mixologists. It’s the best cocktail bar in the area. 
Charlottesville is also home to an abundance of vineyards. Whether you’re staying at Keswick or downtown, you’ll be in close proximity to great options. Merrie Hill is a modern vineyard featuring modern art. There’s a charming quirk throughout the property and an outdoor stage for live music. Pippin offers countryside beauty with Blue Ridge Mountain views. Plan ahead to book a table in the tasting room for food pairings. Jefferson has two tasting rooms, one is dog friendly, and a large field to sprawl out for a sipping picnic. 
The Quirk Hotel’s rooftop bar is more of a scene-y stop, but it’s worth it for a downtown sunset view.   
While roaming around downtown Charlottesville one evening, my wife and I stumbled upon a hidden gem: The Garage. This roughly 10-by-10 garage is found just off main street, and on any given night, you’ll stumble across a concert, art studio, amateur film showing, impromptu studio or a potluck dining hall. Crowds gather on a hill across the street to take in local entertainment in one of the most down-to-earth entertainment venues. 
Just a short walk away, Ting Pavilion is the home of more mainstream entertainment. The tented venue is located at the end of main street and doubles as a makeshift community center where people of all ages gather for shows. I caught a “Friday after Five” show, which was free, and volunteers worked concessions to raise money to support the community. It’s worth checking out their event calendar.
If you’re a history buff, pay a visit to Thomas Jefferson’s residence, Monticello, and take a tour. And while you’re at it, go for a walk around the University of Virginia. It’s a beautiful, historic campus. 
To sum? Keswick Hall and Charlottesville are worth a visit. It’s an ideal getaway.

As Director of Social Media and Commerce, Reilly manages two departments at GOLF. He spends his days with one eye scrolling through social feeds and the other on Shopify. Charles Barkley’s old golf swing is prettier than Reilly’s weekly screen time. When the Long Island native checks out for a few hours, he can be found taking a twilight stroll with his push-cart. Contact:
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