Tom Clark finally realises Cutalong dream as new course opens for play

  • Cutalong
    Mike Klemme

    A Biarritz green on the par-three twelfth at Cutalong, a new course in Viriginia designed by Tom Clark

  • Cutalong
    Mike Klemme

    The green of the second hole, a ‘drive-and-pitch’ inspired by Tom Simpson’s work

  • Cutalong
    Mike Klemme

    The par-five third includes a version of James Braid’s ‘Het Girdle’ green at Gleneagles

  • Cutalong
    Mike Klemme

    Alister MacKenzie’s Gibraltar hole at Moortown was the inspiration for the par-three seventeenth

  • Cutalong
    Mike Klemme

    The ‘Redan Stockade’ green on the par-five eighth

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

The new Cutalong golf course at Lake Anna, Virginia, is now open for play. The layout has been designed by Tom Clark in collaboration with golf journalist Ron Whitten and comprises holes inspired by some of golf’s best-known classic hole designs.

The project was first conceived in 1999 as a 27-hole course complemented by a small real estate development. In 2005, Clark teamed up with Whitten on the design, the two exchanging ideas on how classic holes and green designs could be incorporated into layout.

The development has seen multiple owners, a foreclosure and a bankruptcy. The first construction began in 2012, with three holes completed and five others roughly shaped but financial difficulties brought the work to a halt.

Utah-based lender Private Capital Group purchased the project, both real estate and golf, in 2018, and course construction started again that year. By the end of 2019, eleven holes and the practice facilities were complete. The final seven holes were finished this year.

Speaking with GCA in 2019, Clark said: “My original intention was to create another National Golf Links, similar to the great Charles Blair Macdonald’s layout in Southampton. With some of Ron’s input we not only have Macdonald to draw from, but a host of other famous designers and now we even have a Civil War component.”

The site is close to Civil War battlegrounds and Clark and Whitten, a Civil War expert, have based some holes – including the ‘Stockade Redan’ eighth – on nineteenth century fortresses and defences. 

The layout also emphasises the site’s mining history, featuring abandoned mine shafts, ruins and a rail line. “We have railroad tie bunkers, mine shafts have been capped and are now drainage basins, and we have used rail ruins, spikes, picks and mule shoes as tee markers,” said Clark.

Interpretations of famous holes that feature on the Cutalong layout include a version of James Braid’s ‘Het Girdle’ par-three fifth green at Gleneagles on the par-five third, the par-three seventeenth based on Alister MacKenzie’s Gibraltar hole at Moortown, as well others inspired by the work of Harry Colt, Hugh Alison, Donald Ross, Tom Simpson, Old Tom Morris, William Flynn and others.

Read more: A hole-by-hole descriptions of the golf course on the Cutalong at Lake Anna website.

The design team aimed to minimise earthmoving, resulting in occasional blind shots, another feature associated with historic courses. Wide fairways allow for multiple angles of approach, and are designed play firm and fast. “All greens have a minimum of six quadrants with plenty of pinnable areas,” said Clark.

Clark has a home five minutes from the course and for the last two years has averaged 20 days per month on site. “I would say I’ve put all my 50 years’ of experience into this,” he said. “And with so few new courses being developed, this may very well be my last and best!”

While all 18 holes are now open, the official opening is planned for 2 July 2021.