Just west of Richmond, VA, Kinloch is the only golf community I’ve encountered in which the golf club is gated and the sophisticated surrounding neighborhood is not. After playing the golf course, that almost seems fitting -- it is that good.
Most golf raters believe that Kinloch Golf Club is easily the best golf course in the state of Virginia, its chief competition for the title the ultra-exclusive Robert Trent Jones Club in Manassas. Golf Digest ranks Kinloch in the top 50 of all golf courses nationwide, and GolfWorld earlier this year went so far as to rate it the 4th best private club in the U.S., behind only Oak Hill in Rochester, NY, Augusta National and Pine Valley (consider for a moment every other great golf club not in that group, such as Oakmont, Cypress, Shinnecock and Winged Foot). And GolfWorld assigned Kinloch top rankings in the categories of “condition” (no quibbles given my round there), practice facility (best short game area I’ve encountered), and a perfect rating for “service.” (One example: Every other tee box offered crates of ice-cold bottles of water.) Kinloch’s attention to detail on and off the course is impeccable.
You will have to wangle an introduction to play the member-owned golf course or get to know one of its members well, but although exclusive, the club is by no means stuffy. The two members I had the good fortune to be matched with reminded me of the many guys I’ve met at daily fee courses over the years, which is to say these two were funny, unpretentious and inoffensively salty in their language. (They apologized a few times but I took no offense, pleased they felt comfortable enough with me to be themselves.) They had beer personalities with the champagne pockets necessary to join a club like Kinloch. (Note: The club does not publish its member fees but count on them being somewhat above average.) I also played with Ian Sikes, Kinloch’s former golf professional who is now in charge of membership recruitment activities.