MEADOWS OF DAN, Va. – Eight hours removed from hugging turns in world-class race cars and eight hours away from teeing it up at the resort’s vertiginous Highland Course, Primland’s fine staff may recommend some more s’mores.
Just say yes.
Perhaps they’ve discovered the trio of graham crackers, chocolate and roasted marshmallows levels out the colliding forces of adrenaline and anticipation at the Primland Racing Experience’s mid-point. More likely, under the stars on the resort’s 12,000 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains, they’ve allowed time for guests gathered around a roaring fire to reach the same conclusion: “This is pretty damn cool.”
Who could’ve guessed racing and golf would make such a lovely pair? When stitched together in a 48-hour tapestry of delicious food, live music, top-notch hospitality and flawless accommodations, it’s a wonder it took four years for someone to come up with the idea.
Positioned about five miles inside Virginia’s southern border, Primland is far enough away to allow for a true getaway while being close enough to Greensboro, Roanoke and Charlotte to be worth the drive. When your car pulls into the lodge after a winding, often breathtaking drive up Busted Rock Road, you’ll get an idea of what’s to come. By the time you’ve downed a glass of house cider at check-in and taken a chestnut-lined elevator to your spacious room with stunning views, you’ll know you’re embarking on a one-of-a-kind experience.
This is the calm before a storm of excitement for participants of the annual Primland Racing Experience, the 2017 edition of which took place Aug. 13-15. Guests were fortunate enough to watch Justin Thomas clinch the PGA Championship on TVs in the well-equipped 19th Pub before the opening reception on a patio overlooking the intimidating par-4 10th hole. Floating among guests were nine-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen and golf great Jay Haas – both of whom were fixtures at the resort throughout the event.
The real action began Monday morning with a busy schedule featuring fast cars, tight turns and occasional nausea at Virginia International Raceway – just a one-hour helicopter ride away (or, this year, two hours by “fun bus” when a heavy fog settled in over the mountains). About 20 participants rotated between five racing experiences, including driving Radical race cars and an Audi R8 around the 3.27-mile course. As your heart and stomach switch places, be sure to maintain the proper speed into turns.
If driving didn’t induce the proper amount of panic, then “hot laps” around the track riding shotgun with Kristensen and another former Le Mans racer, Harold Primat, did the trick for most.
The raceway visit closed with a Le Mans-style team karting competition, relieving years of rush-hour traffic anxiety in 30 minutes of furious racing. Kristensen and Primat joining the fray felt about as fair as PGA Tour player Bill Haas dropping in on your Thursday golf league.
Speaking of which, “Bill’s dad” (as Jay noted he occasionally has been titled) was at the range well before Tuesday morning’s round, graciously doling out swing tips to anyone with the temerity to ask for them. In the ensuing Texas Scramble format, where players use the group’s best tee ball before playing their own ball in, Haas’ PGA Tour Champions skill level was appreciated – especially on par 3s, where birdies became formalities.
Primland’s Highland Course is ranked No. 2 among Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play in Virginia – and for good reason. The combination of course architect Donald Steel seeking a Scottish highlands feel and founder Didier Primat cutting no corners along the way yielded fantastic results in the play, feel and amenities available (think transplanted, original tobacco houses dotting the course, million-dollar stone work along paths and tee boxes, et. al.) from No. 1 to 18.
Steel believes land should shape the course, not the other way around. That’s a bold stance when building a course into a mountain, but with the exception of a bit of dynamite used to lower the approach shot on the opening par 5, he held true to his vision. The effect: many tricky lies, even more places to find trouble, a slope rating of 150 and a round you won’t soon forget.
Be sure to play a little over the recommended pace. How else to enjoy stunning views (take it nice and slow into the second tee) and wildlife (you’ll join up with some deer and turkeys; let the snakes play through).
After dipping back into the 19th Pub, all that’s left to do is locate your significant other (perhaps out riding horses or enjoying the spa), then ease back down the mountain and into reality.