WASHINGTON -- Ask Washingtonians where to go for elegant accommodations, five-star dining, luxurious spas and world-class golf and they will likely point you southwest to the Greenbrier and the Homestead.
For decades the mountain retreats have been 1 and 1A among the elite resorts of the region, and both are less than four hours from the White House.
What are some of the lesser known -- but still worthwhile -- stay-and-play golf destinations in the Washington, D.C. area? Here are nine -- three each at different price levels -- within two and a half hours of the Beltway.
If you are an inside-the-Beltway fat cat
The Golf Club at Lansdowne in Lansdowne, Va.: As the only high-end golf resort within an hour of D.C., Lansdowne is uniquely situated to serve corporate clients. It also has the only Greg Norman-designed course in the Mid-Atlantic -- and the Shark Bite Course is no typical resort tract, measuring 7,332 brutal yards. Robert Trent Jones Jr. built the original 18-hole course at Lansdowne in 1991. On the bluffs of the Potomac, just upstream from Trump National , Lansdowne has all the expected trappings -- five varied restaurants, a 12,000-square-foot spa, and a golf academy.
Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va.: On the banks of the James River, luxurious Kingsmill Resort offers an amenity-laden 36-hole golf experience that few resorts can match. The unrelenting Pete Dye-designed River Course has hosted PGA and LPGA events and has the most photographed holes in Virginia in nos. 16, 17 and 18. The Arnold Palmer-designed Plantation Course is the ideal complement with generous fairways and large, undulating greens.
Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina in Cambridge, Md.: On the Choptank River, this is a high-end family destination with a stellar 18-hole course. River Marsh Golf Club reflects the nature of Maryland's Eastern Shore with plentiful wetlands, 65 bunkers and dramatic water views. Two pieces of advice: Choose a room that overlooks the water, and off-site dining is the way to go. This is an area full of inexpensive, fabulous seafood joints.
If you are a financially secure government worker
Wintergreen Resort in Wintergreen, Va.: Located an hour southwest of Charlottesville, Wintergreen Resort is an elegant ski and golf retreat transposed from its countrified surroundings. It has two highly acclaimed and vastly different courses. Scenic Devils Knob by Ellis Maples is the highest elevation course in the state at 3,850 feet, while 27-hole Stoney Creek by Rees Jones winds through the valley below, incorporating hardwood stands, meadows, streams and wetlands. Condos ranging from one to five bedrooms are the way to go for a golf group.
Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort in Flintstone, Md.: A casino, added in May 2013, is modest but has been a game-changer for the mountain resort, which used to emphasize family fun. In its first six months, Rocky Gap generated more than $20.6 million in gambling revenue. The facility was built around a man-made lake and features a Jack Nicklaus-designed course with distinct nines. The Rocky Gap golf course 's front plays along a mountainside and feels like the Homestead's Cascades Course on steroids. The back is a blissful, scoreable jaunt across the meadows.
Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club in Front Royal, Va.: The facility's aim is to provide "four-star golf at two-star prices." The Tom Clark-designed course pulls it off, drawing a rare mix of players -- stay-and-play groups, locals and D.C. types who don't mind the extra drive time (an hour from the Beltway) -- who enjoy the immaculate, reasonably priced track full of memorable holes. For those staying at the overlooking Holiday Inn & Suites, there are several other inexpensive, scenic country courses nearby, including Shenandoah Valley and Bowling Green.
If you are a penny-pinching suburbanite
The Bridges Golf Club in Abbottstown, Pa.: For those with no interest in spas or fine dining, the Bridges has stay-and-play packages that are cheaper than green fees at comparable courses. The hotel/clubhouse is a boxy, three-story former furniture factory, but not without charm. The Bridges golf course is a magnificently conditioned undiscovered gem with fast greens, elevation change and a great variety of tight and open holes.
The Shenvalee Golf Resort in New Market, Va.: For a low-budget golf adventure, few resorts can match this bygone-era facility in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The motel is so convenient that players can pull their carts up to their rooms. The course has 27 holes, each nine with a distinct character, especially the Olde loop, built in 1927 and inaugurated by legendary Bobby Jones. The manor-style clubhouse includes fine dining and a sports bar.
Carroll Valley Golf Resort in Fairfield, Pa.: Lodging is at the base of Liberty Mountain Ski Resort and overlooks the course, which is set in the valley with several holes running along Toms Creek. Carroll Valley G.C. , which has six par 3s and five par 5s, has partnered with another local course, Whitetail Golf Resort , for packages, providing an opportunity for players to enjoy another scenic mountain track on the way in or out.