Current Issue

  • Protect Your Team

     Off-Season Focus on Safety Pays Many DividendsRead More

  • Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace

     If you recall my last column, “Tee Time is Money,” I revealed the state of Texas comptroller of public accounts had ruled against an online tee time agentRead More

  • Themed Menus Build Sense Of Community

     The term “overchoice” was coined by Alvin Toffler in his 1970 book Future Shock, which described the detrimental effects of too much change in too short a time frame.Read More


Online Exclusives

  • GBC 2020
  • GBC 2020

    Golf Business Conference is the National Golf Course Owners Association’s (NGCOA) annual member meeting, and is the industry’s largest gathering of golf course owners and operators.Read More

January 2020

Boar’s Head Resort Enters New Era of Golf

By Sally J. Sportsman 

The historic Boar’s Head Resort in Charlottesville, Virginia, is writing a new chapter in its story. Owned and operated by the University of Virginia Foundation, the resort, which traces its roots back to Thomas Jefferson, has launched a redesign of its Birdwood Golf Course. The project is part of a multiyear improvement plan for Boar’s Head Resort, the University’s golf team facilities and the Birdwood Mansion.

“Work on the golf course started officially in August of 2018 on land that previously had no golf holes on it,” says Russ Cronberg, general manager of Boar’s Head Resort. “The reimagined 18-hole Birdwood golf course is expected to open this summer or earlier, based on turf conditions.

“Everyone looks forward to playing the new course.”

Located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Boar’s Head Resort, a member of the Historic Hotels of America, is in close proximity to the University of Virginia campus. Birdwood Golf Course, home to the University’s men’s and women’s golf teams, is open to Boar’s Head guests and the public. The close working partnership between the resort and the university includes shared athletics facilities and special rates for university students, employees and alumni.

“We are not a typical destination resort course,” Cronberg says. “We want to play a role in the local community as much as we can.

“We cherish our role as a resort, but we have to figure out the balancing act of number of rounds allotted to resort guests.”

The golf course project consists of constructing a new layout on the site of the existing one. Extra property behind the resort, also owned by the foundation, allowed for relocation of some golf holes. The new par-71 course, with six sets of tees, will play to approximately 4,000 to 7,200 yards. Love Golf Design has undertaken the golf course redesign; the firm was founded by PGA Tour player Davis Love III and his brother Mark.

 “Very few holes on the new golf course will be played in the same vein as before without alteration,” says Martin Winters, director of golf at the resort. “It is essentially a new golf course; it’s hard to categorize it as a renovation.

“A handful of holes are in the same corridor as before, going in the same direction, but the majority of them are in a new routing.”

The impetus for the major golf course alterations was related to some infrastructure issues, according to Winters, such as the need to refurbish greens, perform extensive irrigation work and clear some invasive tree species.

“We had $5 million of work we needed to do,” Winters says, “so we decided to make it a full-scale change, to elevate the golf facilities to the same caliber as the rest of the resort.”

The driving range also has been renovated and is now open, with a reduction in elevation for more accurate ball flight readings. A new chipping green accommodates a higher volume of golfers, and the new bunker design allows players to practice long shots into the driving range.

There also will be a new, six-hole par-3 course and a putting course, aimed at the resort business, says Winters, to draw golfers and increase rounds. New state-of-the-art golf carts have been ordered, and an improved level of personal service is planned for golfers. Another amenity is a new indoor swing studio inside the sports club, offering instruction, training or virtual play.

The resort itself was closed for renovation for 15 months, including the main lobby, signature restaurant and 35 of the 168 guest rooms. A temporary front desk location was used, and the sports club served as the restaurant during that time. The resort saw only a three percent reduction in occupancy during the closing.

“We were transparent and forthcoming,” Winters says, “and were able to make 90 percent of our resort guests happy, with reduced room rates and other considerations. We didn’t lay off any staff.”

The cost of the new golf course will be just under $15 million, according to Winters. Funding came from a variety of sources: deferred maintenance reserves, philanthropy and ownership at the UVA Foundation. The resort renovation will come in at about $16 million, funded completely through capital reserves, cash flows from operations and ownership at the UVA Foundation. No bank loans were secured.

One special part of the entire renovation project is the new Boar’s Head Drive, an internal connecting road that means resort guests no longer have to take the highway to get to the golf course. They can drive their golf carts throughout the resort.
“Boar’s Head Drive reinforces our brand, with the message that we are one property, together,” says Winters.




Leave a Comment

Yamaha Umax


Featured Resource

Owner's Manual

Owners Manual IconBrought to you by Yamaha
Visit the Owner’s Manual library within the GB Archive for practical, small business insights and know-how for your golf operation.Read More

January 2020 Issue

Connect With Us

facebooktwitterNGCOABuyers GuideYouTube