Sitting just off I-66 less than 8.5 miles from the beltway, Penderbrook is definitely one of the most conveniently located 18-hole daily fee courses in the area. The development the course winds through, lies just across the street from heavily trafficked Fair Oaks Mall, and it’s proximity to the highway makes it easy to get to from all directions. On Saturday and Sunday mornings this fact, along with very reasonable greens fees, can make it one of the slowest 18 holes around, filled with weekend duffers taking their time getting around this short but tricky course.
The layout of the Edward Ault designed course can be a bit confined at times, as it uses just about every square inch of the property. The opening four holes are a fun start that provide a mild amount of elevation change with raised tee boxes on the second and third, and an elevated green atop the par 5 fifth that features dogleg 400 yards into fairway. With homes and OB on either side of this long hole, the fifth is often going to be the highest score on your card all day. Out of bounds is frequent at Penderbrook, as backyards of homes come very much into play on seven of the eighteen holes. One highly unusual aspect, often found on european courses instead of in northern Virginia, is that the front nine finish does not bring you back to the clubhouse, instead, there is a free-standing snack bar allowing for a quick turn after walking off the ninth green.
Take your time and grab a bite, maybe drink something with a bit of a kick, you may need a bit of courage for the tee shot on number ten. From the back tees, the par 3 tenth measures 220 yards and it’s all carry over water. Left will leave you in the rocks, long in the woods, right down a hill back into the water, and anything short is wet. This is one of the hardest par 3’s you’ll find in the entire region. As if an apology, Mr. Ault kindly made the eleventh a reachable par 4 to allow your scorecard to recover. The next two holes will keep you on your toes in a big way, with a severe dogleg par 4 on the twelfth and green guarded on three sides with water, followed by a short par 3 at the thirteenth, that is a tricky wedge shot over water to a thin green where the pin always seems to be tantalizingly close to the water’s edge. Finishing out the round will give you a few scoring chances at the par 5’s on fourteen and seventeen, and the finishing hole is reachable par 4 that is only 325 yards from the longest set of tees.
With Penderbrook’s centralized Fairfax location, the course sees a lot of traffic, and the course conditions often make that abundantly clear. Too many rounds recently have met grassless, unmarked tee boxes, spotty greens and long waits on par 3’s. The practice area is minimal with one green for putting and chipping along with an aging net to hit balls into. One nice extra, comes on afternoons during the week when a hamburger bar is often included in your greens fee which i am guilty of taken advantage of one several occasions. Overall, Penderbrook is a convenient challenge to all levels of golfer, but needs a bit more tlc to warrant frequent returns.
Weekend morning rate: $59 w/cart
Weekday afternoon rate: $35 w/cart