In one particularly historic section of Central Virginia, thoroughbred horse racing and the game of golf occasionally go hand-in-hand
(NEW KENT, VA.) — For thoroughbred horse owners, naming their next great racing hopeful can be a painstaking process. Nine of 10 often get rejected for various reasons.
Decades ago as winter swept across central Virginia, one farm in particular struggled with its newest colt’s name. The first submission to the governing body had been “Scepter,” then “Royal Line.” Looking back, destiny truly missed its calling on the third suggestion, “Something Special.”
It wasn’t until “Games of Chance” and “Deo Volente” were also dismissed that lightning finally struck and horseracing history was changed forever. The name “Secretariat” stuck and that very horse three years later became the industry’s greatest champion, forever etched into the lore of sports and the state of Virginia as well.
The naming of a golf course can profoundly affect on its destiny as well. But unlike the awkward beginnings of the infamous colt back in 1971, the name “Viniterra” evolved as naturally the land on which the course and surrounding community now sit.
Located in the heart of Virginia’s renowned wine country, Viniterra – meaning, loosely, “earth wines” or “land of grapes” – is the perfect name for what has been created just a county over from where Secretariat called home until its death nearly a quarter of a century ago.
Viniterra is a private, gated community of luxury estate home sites and resort cottages in the Virginia’s New Kent Vineyards Development. The Club at Viniterra designed by the “U.S. Open Doctor,” Rees Jones, flies against the grain of your typical Tidewater design. With massive fairways and run-ups to nearly all of its jaw-dropping green complexes — combined with the thoughtful and strategic placement of various grass, sand and water hazards — Viniterra is enjoyable for golfers who select the proper set of tees (some holes offer up to a dozen different teeing grounds).
“The older you get the better you get in our design business, because you learn from what you did in the past,” said Jones. “I think this kind of reflects what we did in the past. We built an old-style golf course — a neoclassical golf course — that doesn’t have mounds or artificial hazards. It has very little water, lots of open entrances, and it has catchment areas behind the greens so you don’t go too far into the woods. Plus, it’s got wide fairways, which I think is the future of golf. Because the ball is going so much farther, when it goes off line it goes off line a lot farther.
“I really think [Viniterra] is a back-to-the-future golf course with old style architecture with the modern game in mind.”
And while golf and grapevines go hand and hand in New Kent County — Viniterra also features the equally remarkable New Kent Winery, built almost entirely using recycled building materials, which has won the hearts of the Virginia Wine Community — a horseracing legacy has been forged just minutes down the road.
Colonial Downs is Virginia’s only pari-mutuel horse racetrack and its Secretariat Turf Course, which at 180 feet wide is the widest grass surface of any track in North America, is just one more reminder of the impact the horse racing legend left behind.
It is said that at the heart of every Virginia vacation is a lot of love. In New Kent County, there’s a lot to love in both its golf and gaming. At Viniterra and Colonial Downs, you can enjoy both to the fullest.
The undulating topography of Viniterra is more than enough to make your golf adventure special. Add in a winery, and immaculate attention to service, and you have a golf experience that though denied Secretariat, is truly “Something Special.”
At Virginia’s home of thoroughbred horse racing, visitors enjoy the thrills of the oval as it mixes with New Kent’s natural beauty, ample privacy and endless luxury amenities. New Kent County is home to several rivers and streams — ideal for sailing, fishing, and other outdoor activities for sportsmen. In 2006, New Kent County was listed in the U.S. Census Top 100 Fastest Growing Counties in the Nation. Its proximity to Richmond makes it well suited for commuting or accessing transportation routes and airports.
In fact, the New Kent Vineyards Project property is within one day’s drive of two-thirds of the American population, offering manageable driving distances to many major East Coast markets including Richmond (24 miles), Williamsburg (32 miles), Fredericksburg (74 miles), Virginia Beach (88 miles), Charlottesville (92 miles), Washington, DC (123 miles), Raleigh, NC (183 miles) and Philadelphia, PA (269 miles).
The Club at Viniterra has now opened its doors to outside public play, making it one of the most immaculately maintained offerings and attractive golf values in the region. Combining the rich history of the region, the magnificent terrain and the exciting design of the Club at Viniterra it is no wonder that this remarkable golf course has become so popular — truly a must-play golf gem. Learn more at www.ViniterraGolf.com or 804-932-3888.