Highland Course at Primland

THE BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS in south-central Virginia provide a dramatic backdrop for an unusually expansive and luxurious new golf resort.

Actually, the Donald Steel-designed Highland Course at Primland in Meadows of Dan, Va., occupies only a small corner of this engaging, densely wooded 12,000-acre (19-square-mile) parcel. Golf has been quietly played here for three years, with visitors also having the run of extensive fishing streams, hunting grounds, clay-shooting areas and miles of trails for horseback riding, bicycling, ATV-ing and walking. Until now, however, overnight accommodations were in the form of a handful of Spartan if comfortable cabins and lodges. With the opening in August of a luxury 26-room resort lodge, Primland assumes a position at the forefront of American country hostelry.

Primland is owned and run by the Primat family of France. They've applied their refined aesthetic taste to the place with fine-combed detailing of everything from museum-quality Aboriginal art to high-tech rooms equipped with HDTV, motorized window shades and travertine bathroom tiling. A 17-seat theater is ideal for small corporate meetings. And if nightlife gets a little slow, there's always a chance to spend an evening gazing at galaxies millions of light years away through the eyepiece of the resort's own world-class observatory.

The Highland Course at Primland, par-72, stretches to 7,053 yards, though first- and second-timers will find it sensible to play from more moderately spaced teeing grounds. There are steep falloffs to the sides of many fairways and the occasional carry over a wetland or ravine. The holes sit along the top of wooded ridgelines and offer stunning long views of the mountain skyline on every hole. There's no chance players will run into each other, since tee times are spaced at 30-minute intervals-a margin befitting the gracious comforts and luxuries of this true country getaway.

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