About six years ago I had the privilege of meeting Brian Alley at my store in Winston Salem, NC. He was down from his perch as Head Professional at the beautiful resort of Primland – in the mountains of southern Virginia.
Built by French-Swiss billionaire Didier Primat, whose family built petro giant Schlumberger, the resort at Primland encompasses an entire mountain in Meadows of Dan, VA. Activities range from bird hunting, deer hunting, shooting clays, fly fishing, kayaking, Recreational Vehicle rentals, and star gazing at the observatory located at the lodge. And, of course, GOLF.
The Highland Course at Primland, like the rest of the resort, was spared no expense in its’ construction. Designed by Donald Steel, the course claims the top of the mountain as its own. The course crawls around the crest of the mountain, showing glimpses of some of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever encountered on a golf course.
Back to my chance meeting with Brian Alley. When I found out who he was, I made sure to spend a few extra minutes talking to him before he left. A few days later I followed up with an e-mail asking if there was any way he could allow me and a couple guys from the store to come up and play the course (I won’t ask a woman on a date because I’m so shy, but I’ll ask anyone for a golf hookup!). He obliged and we set up a round a couple of weeks later.
When you arrive at the South Gate, there is nobody there. You pull up to the gate and there is a call box, with a button to press. The first time there, the button was not clearly marked. We sat there for a minute before realizing the button was our way in. Once inside the gate, there is a sign directing you to turn right. The next sign tells you that you have 7 miles to drive until you get to the golf course – ALL UP HILL.
The service staff is second to none, with valet parking, outside staff that take your clubs, put them on the carts, and drive them around to the Pro Shop. The shop, while small, sits at the base of the observatory tower and boasts a wonderful collection of brightly colored shirts from some of the top brands.
Once you pay your greens fees, it is a short walk to a beautiful driving range – definitely the greatest view I’ve ever had on a range! Your shots sail downhill, helping build your confidence as you loosen up. They have a nice chipping area with two greens, and a very undulating putting green at the driving range. Down the hill, nearer the first tee is a much bigger and friendlier putting green for you to dial in your stroke.
There really is no way to describe the holes, or the views, that await when you get to the first tee. Well, not so much the tee box as when you get to your ball in the fairway. The first hole features a slightly blind uphill tee shot. Once you reach the crest – the rest of the hole drops downhill and offers one of the prettiest shots of the day (for golf & your camera!)
I won’t wind through every single hole for you, but suffice it to say that this golf course is like nothing else I have ever played. I’ve continued the relationship with Brian, and have been rewarded with an annual trip up the mountain to play – and understand me when I tell you that it is an absolute treat every time.
I’ve said over the years that the course layout is spectacular even if you remove the views. The fact that it is located on top of the mountain, with the views it offers, makes it one of the top courses I have played in my lifetime. The conditions are pristine, the greens are always immaculate, and the layout makes amazing use of the terrain.
On my recent trip to North Carolina for a friend’s wedding, I was able to get in touch with Brain and arrange a round. Since the course opened in 2006, Brian Alley has been the only Head Golf Professional. Talking to him before we teed off, he raved about the condition the course was in, even with the challenging weather they have encountered with tons of rain this Spring.
The only disappointment he feels is that not enough people have heard of the course and taken the trip to check it out. Worth every penny you’ll spend – Primland offers many different sleeping options with the Lodge, countless Cottages, and the Tree Houses (which actually overhang the edge of the mountain and offer breathtaking views – I dream of spending a night in one someday).
While I have never stayed overnight – as it is only about an hour drive from Winston Salem – I have no doubt in my mind that Primland would be a perfect selection for a buddy trip – especially if you enjoy hunting & fishing with your golf. Look into it, I promise you will not be disappointed in the decision to drive up to the top of the mountain and look around. You won’t believe your eyes!!