Left for dead. In 2006 the nation’s economy claimed yet another victim, and Jack Nicklaus had to be dragged away from a property on the banks of the Potomac that he just knew would be the best public-access golf course in the D.C. area. It was a bitter moment for the Golden Bear; all that work for nothing. All that potential, wasted.
Hardly. Skip forward a decade and this Signature Nicklaus Design project is decidedly undead and very much on the brink of reaching its original expectations (heralded among Golfweek’s Best State-by-State Courses You Can Play in both 2016 and 2017). Now the pulse of a booming SunCal community and rapidly expanding Capital metro, Potomac Shores is under Troon Golf’s superior management thumb and offers a challenging private club experience to the everyday public golfer.
“Rick Jacobson brought the project to the finish line,” award-winning former Director of Golf Operations Patrick Boucher told me. “But this was Jack’s vision. This is exactly the way Jack wanted it to be.”
It’s not too often you can say a course’s reputation is assisted by its logo, but Potomac Shores assuredly is with its bold “stars and stripes” emblazoned shield. I am constantly asked about the logo as I’m constantly wearing my PS gear and am always eager to tell the story of a place I’ve already visited twice (since it opened in 2014) and revisit regularly in my mind.
So what makes the course so memorable, beyond playing in a “house that Jack built?” (And the meals in the Tidewater Grill afterwards.) It’s a topographical rollercoaster for one — its accessible fairways and enormous greens dwarfed by the surrounding sea of hills and walls of hardwoods. It’s also as challenging as it is beautiful — a fact I’m sure some appreciate less than me — with a handful of “signature” holes on the front nine alone, particularly the par-3 4th hole and the par-4 9th hole.
I admittedly hate blind tee shots but found the resulting reveals on the Potomac Shores set to be well conceived designs that reinforced tee box logic and accuracy self-awareness. I’m not sure I could play the course every day — a skill test with no let up — but it’s certainly at the top of Virginia’s “Best” list, and a “must play” for any golfer visiting D.C.