Keswick’s Full Cry hosting U.S. Open qualifying next week

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo: Keswick Hall

Keswick Club’s “Full Cry” will host U.S. Open qualifying for the second straight year come next week, but it’s not the same golf course of a few years ago.

The club has lengthened several holes to extend the course to more than 7,200 yards in order to challenge today’s long hitters, in addition to toughening up its four, par-3’s, which will challenge any golfer.

“[The USGA] would like for us to continue Open qualifying until we tell them otherwise, which is quite a compliment to the golf course,” said Rob McNamara, Keswick’s general manager and director of golf. Keswick Club is the only U.S. Open qualifying spot in the state of Virginia.

McNamara, who arrived at Keswick Club in 2021 after serving as director of golf at Farmington Country Club since 1997, said that the changes at Full Cry energized the course and “added a little extra sizzle on the steak.”

“We now have incredible par-3’s,” McNamara said. “If you can play those in 12 shots, you will beat a lot of people. They are strong.”

Full Cry also features four somewhat-short par-4’s that McNamara said have been jazzed up to make them much more strategic. Still fun for the club golfer and resort golfer, but interesting enough to test the grit of a championship-caliber player, while again, adding length to the layout.

“The back tees on the other 14 holes are impressive,” McNamara said. “I mean, for those holes you’ve got to buckle up.”

A total of 84 players will show up at Full Cry on Tuesday morning (May 14th), playing for five spots in next month’s U.S. Open field at Pinehurst No. 2. Play will begin at 8:30 that morning off the No. 1 and No. 10 tees, and spectators are welcome (free admission, no carts).

Last year, two players — Evan Beck and Connor Burgess — posted 7-under-par 65’s to lead the qualifying. There were also scores of 67, 69 and a 70 (the latter by Richmond’s Mark Lawrence) to earn those five qualifying spots. None of the five made the cut at the actual Open, but McNamara hopes that at least one of this year’s Keswick qualifiers makes it to the weekend at Pinehurst in order to give locals a rooting interest.

“I’m sure it will take 3-under-par probably to get one of the five spots, so if you shoot a 69, I think that played off last year,” McNamara said. “The course is in fantastic shape thanks to our superintendent, Troy Fink. We are lucky to have him, he’s terrific. This course is just right.”