Cahoon Plantation is a case study in the economic principle of supply and demand.
The latest in this series celebrating the local businesses we love, sponsored by Recycling Perks.
When the Chesapeake golf course opened in 1999, it had 45 holes—three nine-hole courses and an 18-hole par-3—but they never really saw a lot of play. In 2007, it was reconfigured as an 18-hole course, and traffic picked up.
Of course, price also made a difference. While green fees used to top out around $80, the price range is now $35-$59, depending on the day, the time and various discounts available to seniors and members of the military and law enforcement.
The result? What used to be one of the best-kept secrets in Hampton Roads is now one of the best golf courses in Hampton Roads. In fact, Cahoon has a rating of 4.3 stars on GolfAdvisor.com, ranking it a very close second to Cypress Creek Golfers’ Club in Smithfield. (It’s worth noting that Cahoon has more than twice as many user reviews.)
“I’m a little biased,” Dan Shea, Cahoon’s director of operations, said in a recent phone interview. “I’d say number one, there’s a couple really good private courses, but public-wise, I don’t think there’s any denying that we’re in the top three in Hampton Roads.”
Shea (pictured below) has been at the course since 2009. He graduated from Campbell University’s PGA Golf Management Program and cut his teeth locally, working at Chesapeake Golf Club, Cypress Point Country Club in Virginia Beach and Lake Wright Golf Course in Norfolk.
What sets Cahoon apart from all of the courses in Hampton Roads, he said, is its bentgrass. “The fairways are better than some people’s greens,” he said. “They’re just nice and plush. You get a good lie every single time.”
Jim Ducibella, a former Virginian-Pilot sports writer and author of the book, “King of Clubs: The Great Golf Marathon of 1938,” backs up the claim. “The bent is significant because, in theory, it gives patrons a beautifully conditioned course year-round—even in winter when you expect even the best local courses to have dormant fairways.”
He added: “For service, conditioning, teaching facilities and personnel, and quality of design, it’s certainly … at the top of the list of places to play.”
Shea’s favorite holes are all on the back nine.
Among the par 4s, he likes No. 11. “It’s kind of a love/hate relationship,” he said. “It’s a slight dogleg right—nothing but water on the left-hand side. For most people, it’s a lay-up shot. You hit it further than 250, you’re going to be in the water. … You walk away there with a 4 and you’re probably at least a stroke better than everybody else.”
For a par 3, he likes No. 15. “It’s just a great, short little hole,” he said. “It’s the easiest hole on the course, but at the same time, if you don’t pay attention, you can easily walk away with a double bogey.”
The signature hole is No. 18, a par 5. “My favorite hole would definitely be the 18th,” Shea said. “It’s your typical risk/reward par 5 where you can get there in two if you hit two good shots. If not, you’ve really got to think about laying up.”
Ironically, Shea tore the ligaments and cartilage in his left wrist and is unable to play the course himself, but that doesn’t stop him from teaching. “It’s nice to play for yourself,” he said, “but at the same time, I get to teach the game and watch people get better.”
Teaching also allows him to work with his wife, the namesake of Cahoon’s Michelle Holmes School of Golf. “You’re never too young and never too old to learn to play the game,” he said. “If you come out for instruction, you’ll enjoy the game a little more. You’ll get a little bit better and have a little more passion for it.”
Cahoon’s Recycling Perks reward is a “buy one, get one free” green fee. A cart fee is required, but the reward can be doubled for up to four people. Shea said the partnership with RecyclingPerks is a “win-win” for the course and the customer. “We’re happy to continue to offer it.”
Cahoon Plantation is located at 1501 Cahoon Parkway, near Tidewater Community College’s Chesapeake campus. For more information, call 757-436-2775 or visit: www.cahoonplantation.com.
Recycling Perks is available in the Cities of Chesapeake, Suffolk and Norfolk. It’s already part of the recycling program, built as a way to reward the efforts of individual citizens choosing to recycle and beautify their community. Recycling Perks incentivizes saving the world with discounts and freebies from local businesses. It only takes 60 seconds to activate your account online at www.recyclingperks.com. What are you waiting for?