Amherst County golf course receives upgrades

Though it spans 1,000 acres, Poplar Grove golf course has affectionately been called a “hidden gem” by its residents. But as the course begins to undergo a multi-million dollar renovation, everyone is ready to let the rest of Central Virginia—and beyond—in on the secret.

The last golf course designed by late professional golfer Sam Snead, Poplar Grove is a unique 18-hole course located in Amherst, right down the road from Sweet Briar College. Golfers navigate over rolling hills and shady woods, all while overlooking ponds, streams, and the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. The course may be massive, but it’s easy for golfers to feel like they’re the only ones on the course, especially if they spot one of four eagles that call the property home.

“I’ve played a lot of courses all over the country and in Europe and I haven’t played a course like this one,” resident Jeff Bryant said.

Bryant and his wife call the property home, but to Bryant, it’s more than just a gated community with 21 residential homes. He’s quickly become passionate about marketing the property, especially in the midst of its makeover.

“With the way the economy was booming, the owners decided that now was the right time to really invest in the property,” Bryant said. “They want to care for this course and keep it pristine.”

And it shows. Renovations of the property began in the fall of 2018 and include a $1.7 million update of the bunkers, renovations at the historical Manor House, the addition of premium EZGO RXV golf carts, new restrooms and comfort areas to allow for a nice break in between holes, and 350 acres to build new homes for potential new residents.

“The bunkers really needed to be redone,” Bryant said. “Any time it would rain, they would quickly fill up and spill out onto the course. Now we have drainage systems built underneath so that doesn’t happen anymore.”

Another unique aspect is the course uses bent grass, a high-end durable grass that is the preferred type for lower handicap golfers.

For the Manor House, Bryant said they wanted it to be more than just a café, especially with the course’s breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge. The former 18th century farmhouse will retain much of its original design, but will now act as a wedding venue for up to 100 guests, including a bridal suite. The Carriage House will also receive an update as a place for groomsmen and members of the wedding party to relax before the ceremony, with additional overnight accommodations.

Other updates include a members’ lounge and office space for staff, as well as a high-end restaurant.

“We want people from around Lynchburg and Amherst to come out to the course and be able to enjoy a great meal,” Bryant said. “It will be more than just a hot dog stand with some options for a quick bite. We want people to experience the acreage and what Poplar Grove has to offer.”

Poplar Grove’s Head Golf Professional Jacob Mast said the course’s best days are ahead.

“We truly believe this course is in the top 50 best courses in the US,” he said. “It’s an excellent fairway no matter what your skill set is.”

“It’s a championship course,” Bryant added. “I see multiple championships eventually being held here like the state championships or even the PGA qualifiers.”

The course has partnered with the Liberty University Men’s Golf team to bring in more opportunities, even hosting a D1 championship.

“Because of Liberty, we’ve been able to add seven new tee boxes,” Bryant said.

Mast said updating the course is important because they want visitors to have a reason to keep coming back.

“Technology is changing and that’s a huge part of it, especially with the younger generation” he said. “People can quickly get bored.”

But that’s a problem Bryant nor Mast think they’ll have in the future as memberships continue to increase. Though Poplar Grove aims to be member-oriented by giving members a great overall experience while they’re on the course, Bryant said they want residents from all over the region to discover what makes Poplar Grove so unique.

“This place has so much to offer no matter who you are,” he said.

Poplar Grove Renovation Overview:
• $1.7 million bunker renovation and clearing project
• Reestablish pristine consistent course conditions
• Complete restoration of the historic Manor House including 100 seat indoor/outdoor dining, luxury bar, several member exclusive areas and overnight accommodations
• New fleet of premium EZGO RXV golf carts
• On-course restrooms with comfort stations
• Practice facility upgrades

Founded: 2004
Located: 380 London Lane, Amherst
Employees: 15
Signs of Growth: Currently improving the property with renovations to bunkers, Manor House and more.