On some level, a golf course is a golf course: You've got a couple of hundred acres of sod, 18 holes in the ground and a few ball-washers on top of poles; all the rest is just landscaping. But our area has at least three utterly distinctive courses that produce such different experiences that they are worth a visit for that reason alone.
Locust Grove, near Fredericksburg
Imagine a miniature golf course done up full size. At this 27-hole facility you'll find a par-3 whose fairway is a baseball diamond; the green is in the outfield. On another hole you'll find a green rimmed by a 60-foot-long, 30-foot-high waterfall. And you'll play what is called the longest golf hole in the United States: an 841-yard par-6 (!) that includes two lakes and three fairway landing areas. A $45 top rate, including cart, makes this a great bargain -- and a real hoot.
Davidsonville, Anne Arundel County
Each of Renditions' 18 holes is a replica from a course that has hosted a major championship: the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open or PGA Championship. (One's from the Players Championship, which some consider golf's "fifth major.") There's the famed "Amen Corner" (holes 11, 12 and 13 from Augusta National, home of the Masters), the killer island green from No. 17 at the TPC at Sawgrass and Royal Birkdale's No. 15, the longest, toughest hole on that classic links-style of course favored in the U.K.
White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
You'll play golf like they did in the 19th century at this course, a faithful restoration of the (reputed) first golf club in the United States, established in 1884 by a group of transplanted Scots, Englishmen and Americans. Golf at Oakhurst is played with replica 19th-century long-nose hickory-shafted clubs, gutta-percha balls (made from the rubbery sap of the east Asian sapodilla tree) and little sand mounds instead of tees. A flock of sheep helps mow the fairways. The course is short -- 2,235 yards (no par given, since the course predates that annoying concept). But the old-fashioned balls don't go far when struck with the wooden sticks anyway.