Old Trail, which sold its first piece of property in early 2005, is somewhat avant garde among its peer Charlottesville, VA, area communities.  The niche for the Crozet, VA, community is more populist than the upscale Keswick or the buttoned up and more dramatically scaled Glenmore, other fine communities in the area which we will review in future posts.  Old Trail will have no gate, manned or otherwise.  The community includes sidewalks and a park area to promote a sense of neighborhood.   When built out, natural spaces will include six miles of walking trails and 75 acres of parkland.  A “town center” will be the central point in Old Trail; the furthest extremity from the 250,000 square foot center will be a mere 10-minute walk.  Plans call for a restaurant, shops and offices; the first shops should be open by early 2008.  The goal is that people from the nearby town of Crozet will also use the town center for shopping and dining.
    The golf course is links style, different in that regard from most other courses in the area.  Condition of the turf was quite good; we liked especially the Zoysia grass fairways in which the ball sat up nicely.  The design by Jerry Kamis, a PGA pro and one of the developers of Old Trail itself, is fairly straightforward, although the layout seemed to require more than typical placement shots from one piece of land to another; we felt as if we had played a dozen par 3s by the end of the round.  The course strikes another odd note in that it includes only eight par 4 holes, two fewer than typical layouts.  The 18th hole is a little strange.  At the midpoint on the dogleg left 406-yard par four (from the men’s tees), the fairway stops abruptly, dropping a good two stories to the level below, the hill padded with thick rough.  We opted for long irons rather than metal, believing a layup would leave us a modest approach to the green way below, and that driver would put us on the hill in the rough.  We wound up on the hill anyway and were left with a lie that put our right foot almost at waist level in the thick rough.  There are better ways to make a finishing hole challenging.  That said, nothing else seemed unusual, with the exception of the llamas that stared at us from the backyard next to one tee box.  
    The Old Trail Golf Club is fashioned after early Scottish clubs in which the public had access and a few “founding” members had extra privileges.  Memberships are available at $4,000 for non-residents and $2,000 for anyone who purchases a lot or house in the community.  Monthly dues are a reasonable $250; property owner association dues add another $47 to $116 per month, depending on whether you own a single-family home or town home.  This week, the modest-sized clubhouse opens; the developers are counting on the town center, not the clubhouse, to be the community’s gathering place.  Even the community pool will be located at the town center.
    More than 100 homes are occupied in Old Trail.  Most of those who have purchased property plan to live there year round.  At full build out, which the developers expect to be in nine years, Old Trail will include 2,000 homes of varying styles and sizes, and more than 5,000 people.  Single-family houses on the larger lots (up to ¾ acre) range up to $1.4 million for the largest home, at 6,000 square feet.  Houses on patio lots are in the $450,000 to $600,000 range.  Town homes in the first phase are sold out, but a new phase is planned for June.  Architectural standards in the community are strict; we were impressed that no garages are permitted to face the street, and that no vinyl will ever line the exterior of an Old Trail home.
    Old Trail is a new concept in golf communities in the Charlottesville area.  It is wide open, embracing of the nearby community, and without pretension.  It will appeal to those who don’t believe good fences necessarily make good neighbors.  The course has a nice links style to it, and a couple of clunky holes do not ruin the fun.  Contact Old Trail Village Sales Executive Jonathan Kauffman at 866-567-8100, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Web site:  www.oldtrailliving.com

The Blue Ridge Mountains provide framing for the picturesque Old Trail, designed by PGA pro Jerry Kamis.


    "Jeez," was my first impression when I looked at the scorecard for the Ocean Links course and saw it played just 6,100 yards from the tips (and had six par 3s).  "Where are the windmills and the clown's mouth?"
    Then I played this fine par 70 Bobby Weed layout at Amelia Island Plantation in Florida and learned there is nothing mini about it.
    Weed was given a piece of land not unlike what Pete Dye enjoyed at the famed Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.  Dye, however, had nothing but ocean and sky framing his layout; a few of the ocean holes on Weed's course are draped with hulking condominium buildings, some seven stories high.  The off-ocean holes are lined with houses, set back in most cases at a safe reserve, but a few are definitely in the danger zone.
    Keep your blinders on and focus on the shots before you, and you will enjoy a terrific round.  Most memorable is the 15th, a lovely terror that emerges from the beautiful live oaks and runs downhill 187 yards to a green surrounded by sand dunes and backed by the blue Atlantic ocean.  It is perhaps the only hole on the course where even your peripheral vision does not capture any manmade structures.  My playing partner, also a first timer at the Ocean Links, emitted a "Whoa" when we came up to the tee.  This was one of the rare moments of crosswinds during the round, and we both wound up short right, much preferable to left where recovering from the dunes would have been next to impossible.
    At the 6,100 yards, the course rating is 69.3 and the slope a modest 128.  We found it tougher than that.  We will have more to say about Ocean Links and its companion course, the Pete Dye designed Oak Marsh, as well as Amelia's members-only club, Long Point, in coming weeks.

After the tough and beautiful par 3 15th, the tee ball on 16 must thread the needle between the dunes.  Hundreds of people could potentially bear witness to your approach shot, a tricky downhiller to a green partially obscured and backed by nasty thick grasses and sand.