I write this on a Monday in mid-June from my home in Henrico County, VA, which is adjacent to the City of Richmond. Just across to the south side of the James River is Midlothian, VA, in Chesterfield County which also shares a border with Richmond. Most days, I drive past the Independence Golf Club on my way to Salisbury Country Club where I am a member and recorded my 54th round of the year yesterday. These clubs are less than five minutes apart and the excellent Foundry Golf Club is 10 minutes to the west in Powhatan County.
Looking back at 2nd tee
Independence opened in 2001 as the home of the Virginia State Golf Association (since relocated one mile up the road) and features two Tom Fazio designs -- an 18-hole layout that winds its way through the Founders Bridge community and a nine-hole “mentor” short course. The 27 holes form the best public course in Metro Richmond. My purpose on that June day was to play the short course again as I have done a few times over the years. The $25 fee includes play on the short course and access to the practice facility that includes a driving range with practice tees at both ends, two practice putting greens and several short game practice areas for pitching, chipping and bunker play.
Four other things to note:
- Independence is the home base for Hodson Golf, run by Andrew Hodson whose grandfather played in the Ryder Cup. Andrew was providing custom fittings long before such services were widely available.
- Independence serves as the home course for the University of Richmond Spiders golf team. As a point of personal privilege, I was a faculty member at UR for 37 years prior to my retirement in June of 2018.
- Young golfers are hosted for extended golf camps during the summer. I met some of them on the first tee today as they were the initial group to begin camp during the pandemic.
- There is lodging available on site -- two cottages with capacity for eight and a smaller retreat. Information on lodging is available at the Independence website: https://www.independencegolfclub.com/stay/
I always walk when playing the short course and it takes a little over an hour. Depending on the tee selection, the holes range in length from 80 to 200 yards. There are three forced carries, on numbers 2, 7 and 9, that provide substantial challenges from all but the very forward tees. The green complexes are designed to test short-game skills, and I found every aspect of the course to be well conditioned. It can be brutally hot in Richmond this time of year, but on the day I played the high was in the 60s and I walked the 9th hole in a gentle rain that continued as I made my way back to my car about a half mile away, a slightly damp end to an otherwise spectacular day.