Royal New Kent no. 1
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Royal New Kent no. 1
The line on the first hole if you hit from the proper tees is probably right over the large mound on the left to set up a wedge to the green. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Images
Royal New Kent - no. 1
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Royal New Kent - no. 1
Golfers putt on the first green during the grand reopening of Royal New Kent Golf Club near Richmond, Va. Willie Downs/Wingfield Golf Group
Royal New Kent no. 2
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Royal New Kent no. 2
Perhaps the best risk-reward par 5 at Royal New Kent, the closer the tee shot is to a large gorge on the right, the more it tempts the player to go for the green in two. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Royal New Kent no. 3
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Royal New Kent no. 3
The depth of the green on the par 3 third at Royal New Kent can mean a difference of three or four clubs off the tee. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
sign.jpg
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sign.jpg
Formerly, The Tradition at Royal New Kent, Royal New Kent Golf Club, after being closed for two years, is welcoming golfers again. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Royal New Kent no. 4
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Royal New Kent no. 4
One of the more difficult and beautiful holes at Royal New Kent: the 455-yard par-4 fourth. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Royal New Kent - no. 5
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Royal New Kent - no. 5
The scenery continues with the par-5 fifth hole at Royal New Kent. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Royal New Kent
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Royal New Kent
A bagpiper plays during the grand reopening of Royal New Kent on May 6, 2019. Courtesy of Royal New Kent
Royal New Kent - no. 6
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Royal New Kent - no. 6
Appropriately, the flags flying on the greens at Royal New Kent are Irish. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Royal New Kent - no. 7
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Royal New Kent - no. 7
There's a collection area in front of the par-3 seventh at Royal New Kent Golf Club. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Royal New Kent
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Royal New Kent
Heidi Mortimer, widow of architect Mike Strantz, liked what she saw during the grand reopening of Royal New Kent near Richmond, Va. Willie Downs/Wingfield Golf Group
Royal New Kent - no. 9
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Royal New Kent - no. 9
A creek runs in front of the heavily sloped green on the par-4 ninth at Royal New Kent Golf Club. Courtesy of Royal New Kent
Royal New Kent - no. 10
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Royal New Kent - no. 10
The 10th at Royal New Kent is another good risk-reward par 5. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Royal New Kent - no. 11
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Royal New Kent - no. 11
Trouble crosses the fairway of the par-4 11th at Royal New Kent Golf Club. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Royal New Kent - no. 12
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Royal New Kent - no. 12
The par-3 12th plays somewhat shorter than its yardage since it’s somewhat downhill.
Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Royal New Kent - no. 13
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Royal New Kent - no. 13
It’s best to hug the left side with your tee shot on the par-4 13th at Royal New Kent.
Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Royal New Kent - no. 14
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Royal New Kent - no. 14
The elevated green on the short par-4 14th at Royal New Kent has plenty of slope. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Royal New Kent - no. 15
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Royal New Kent - no. 15
From the back tees, the par-3 15th at Royal New Kent plays 230 yards.
Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Royal New Kent - no. 17
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Royal New Kent - no. 17
Water comes into play on the par-5 17th at Royal New Kent.
Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Royal New Kent - no. 18
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Royal New Kent - no. 18
After a blind shot, this is what you have left on the par-4 18th at Royal Nee Kent Golf Club.
Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Grand Opening
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Grand Opening
Wingfield Group owners from left, Noel Tuck, WIllie Downs and Barton Tuck are pictured with Mike Strantz' widow, Heidi Mortimer.
Royal New Kent clubhouse
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Royal New Kent clubhouse
The clubhouse at Royal New Kent has some similarities with the clubhouse at Royal County Down in Northern Ireland. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Royal New Kent - Mike Strantz
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Royal New Kent - Mike Strantz
A tribute to the late architect, Mike Strantz, inside the Royal New Kent clubhouse. Mike Bailey/Golf Adviisor

The new Royal New Kent Golf Club in Virginia

New owners return Mike Strantz gem to glory, must-play status

Royal New Kent is back and better than ever, thanks to a new owner, which has restored the fabled Mike Strantz design magnificently.

First opened in 1997 as The Tradition at Royal New Kent, the course breaks from the usual rules of golf course architecture – in that it basically has none except it all makes sense to those who are willing to put together the puzzle. It's just one of seven solo designs by Strantz, who succumbed to cancer at the age of 50 in 2005.

For fans of his work, as well as the golf community at large, the reopening of this course, which closed two years ago, is a gift, presented to us by Greenville, S.C.-based Wingfield Golf Management, which bought the course in 2018 and spent the last year restoring the course. Though it had a soft opening in late March, Royal New Kent, located in New Kent, Va., just outside of Richmond, celebrated its reopening on Monday, May 6, 2019 with more than 100 golfers playing the course, followed by speeches and a barbecue.

In Royal New Kent, Strantz paid tribute to the fabled seaside links of the Emerald Isle, with an emphasis on the character and feel of two of the architect's favorites — Ireland’s Royal County Down and Ballybunion. There are blind shots, but the fairways are wide, so it's generous off the tee. The greens are large with plenty of slope, so the key to scoring is to come in from the correct angles and find the right parts of the greens. Every hole is different. Every hole is memorable. And now they are all back. (Click here to see Mike Bailey's review.)

"It was great to hear that the golfers embraced and enjoyed the golf course," said Heidi Mortimer, Strantz' widow. "I had not been on site since it was being grassed. It looked just like the golf course that Mike originally imagined."

Wingfield rebuilt greens and bunkers and updated the course's irrigation and drainage. Royal New Kent’s greens were converted from bentgrass to the more heat-tolerant Champion Bermuda. More than 2,300 tons of new sand were trucked in to reconstruct the Royal New Kent bunkers, making the golf course more playable and easier to maintain. The upgrades to the irrigation system include a new pump station, and all 120 inlets were rebuilt for better drainage. Meanwhile, substantial clubhouse upgrades were also performed.

With Royal New Kent, Wingfield Golf now two very good golf public access courses located within a short drive of one another. The other is The Club at Viniterra, a Rees Jones design that opened in late 2009.

Wingfield Golf, which owns eight golf courses in Florida, Mississippi and Virginia, also owns the South Riding and Pleasant Valley golf clubs in Northern Virginia.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.
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The new Royal New Kent Golf Club in Virginia
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