By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA
The Fairfax County Park Authority (VA.) manages seven golf courses across the vast Northern Virginia county of Fairfax. Each location is distinct and offers golfers a new and diverse experience. The family of courses includes full-size 18-hole facilities at Greendale Golf Course, Laurel Hill Golf Club, and Twin Lakes Golf Course, which has two 18-hole layouts. There are also three 9-hole par-3/Executive courses located at Jefferson District Golf Course, Oak Marr Golf Complex, and Pinecrest Golf Course. The seventh facility is Burke Lake Golf Center, an 18-hole Par-3 course and a GRAA Top 50 Public Range in the U.S.
The practice areas and learning opportunities also differ from facility to facility, each one boasting its own menu of practice and instruction options. Each has putting and/or chipping greens for golfers to hone their skills or get ready for their round. Greendale and Pinecrest offer outdoor hitting nets to warm up, whereas Burke Lake, Laurel Hill, Oak Marr, and Twin Lakes offer the full driving range experience. Pinecrest Golf Course also boasts a new indoor learning center with TrackMan technology.
The practice facilities at Burke Lake Golf Center and Oak Marr Golf Complex offer newly-renovated double-decker driving ranges, Burke Lake with 64 stations and Oak Marr with 78 – slightly fewer than half of them are covered and heated for practice during inclement weather. Both are lighted for play after dark. Burke Lake Golf Center saw a complete range renovation in 2017, as Oak Marr Golf Complex did in 2019.
Instruction is abundant throughout these courses as well, with each facility (except Jefferson District) offering its own variety of player development programs and lesson opportunities. Jon Eisman and the Eisman Golf Academy have offered an array of player development programs and lesson opportunities at Twin Lakes Golf Course since 2015 and recently added a state-of-the-art teaching studio at Laurel Hill Golf Club. Eisman and his team of instructors can be found introducing the game to brand-new golfers and fine-tuning the skills of professional golfers from some of the pro tours.
At the Burke Lake Golf Academy, LPGA member, Kate Via heads a team of PGA, LPGA, and USGTF (United States Golf Teachers Federation)-certified teachers, as they offer an array of classes, clinics, and leagues. With many years of experience under their belts, Via and her staff are putting together programs that meet the demand of their clientele – they recently filled their eighteen September classes in less than fifteen minutes, as eager golfers logged onto their computers as soon as the offerings became available for registration. Via expects a similar response when October’s classes open up.
Every Body Golf School runs programs for adults and juniors at Oak Marr Golf Complex, while independent golf instructors lead various player development programs at the Pinecrest and Greendale Golf Courses.
Roberta Korzen, the Fairfax County Park Authority Golf Marketing Specialist, spoke of the management structure at their courses. “Each golf course has a head pro or director of instruction. Some of them are PGA/LPGA and some of them are USGTF,” Korzen confirmed. With communication, website duties, and social media on her list of responsibilities, Korzen has been busy in 2020, as disseminating accurate and timely information has proven to be a vital and welcoming invitation to existing golfers eager to return to the course and new golfers seeking safe outdoor fun with family and friends.
Korzen is proud of the team effort that went into reopening their facilities after being closed for two months amid the COVID-19 outbreak last spring. She cites their Park and Play safety guidelines as a catalyst to welcoming golfers when they reopened in mid-May, and also highlighted dramatic increases in range usage and rounds played – 20 percent and 40 percent, respectively. “We have seen a large uptick in families, juniors, and women visiting the range and a large number of golfers new to the sport,” she commented.
“Families need to get out,” she states. “We’ve seen great success because it’s something else people can do and be outside social distancing. We have been able to connect with schools, libraries, and neighboring county and Park Authority locations and audiences to spread the word that golf is for everyone!”
It was a trying spring for everyone, and a challenging year as a whole and many areas of the country are still experiencing spikes in positive COVID cases. However, golf has served as a respite for many people this year, and the numbers being reported from golf facilities across the country are exciting – rounds and lessons are up virtually everywhere, and growth of the game initiatives are engaging new golfers at ranges, courses, and private clubs, preparing the game for many years of development and prosperity.