Playing Through: Burke Lake Golf Center

The newly renovated, two-tiered driving range at Burke Lake Golf Center includes 64 lighted stations, 24 of which are covered and heated, open until 11 p.m. all summer. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
A new 12,000-square-foot putting green was just seeded this spring and should be open by the end of the year.   (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 1: 132 yards from blue tees, 121 from white tees, 99 from red tees A short, downhill opener, the green slopes left to right and pitched back toward tee box. Given the drop, it plays even shorter than advertised. Stay away from the left edge, which angles down away from the pin. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 2: 168/155/138 Moving uphill, trees guard the green a bit, so the best play is a draw that starts at the edge of the right greenside bunker, especially if the flag is short and left (as it was when we played). (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 3: 113/98/78 Don’t be fooled by the short yardage — take the extra club, as the pin can be deceptively deep and this hole moves ever so slightly uphill. (WTOP/Mike Jakaitis)
Hole No. 4: 108/90/75 The shortest hole on the course, the only thing to be cognizant of is the tilt of the green, pitching from right to left, which will feed the ball that way. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 5: 192/180/156 A long, downhill tee shot has to be threaded through a canopy of trees, which can be especially tough with a front pin. A gully in front of the green traps shorter shots, but a big putting surface will hold longer ones. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 6: 156/145/131 Like a lot of holes at Burke Lake, elevation change plays a big role. This one plays uphill to a deep, elevated green — take at least a full extra club from the listed distance. (WTOP/Mike Jakaitis)
Hole No. 7: 202/188/168 Similar to No. 5, it’s a long, downhill tee shot through rows of trees, but a little longer and a little more open. A huge green offers plenty of landing space, but if the pin is in the back left, it sits above a ridge on its own little island. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 8: 139/121/95 Moving slightly uphill, your shot rises to an elevated green, so you have to make sure you don’t leave your shot short. Steep bunkers line both sides, but the green is fairly wide, so just play to the middle to be safe regardless of the pin. Depth can make a full club or two difference. (WTOP/Mike Jakaitis)
Hole No. 9: 138/123/106 A pretty straightforward front-nine finisher heading back to the clubhouse, though the front right of the green may not hold a heavy spin shot. Avoid the right side bunker and you’ll likely have an uphill putt for birdie. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 10: 142/132/119 When we played, they were reseeding the tee box, so we played from a temporary tee box down below, about 100 yards out, where it was tough to find a flat lie. The green slopes up dramatically to the right, which brings the right side bunker into play depending on the pin. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 11: 177/165/147 There is, indeed, water on this course. Trees on the left guard your approach, with the lake to the right, so a draw is perfect to shape the ball around and into the green. The putting slope runs left to right as well, so even a drawn wood should play fairly softly into the putting surface. A lot of pitch in the green means you have to be fearless with your putts. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 12: 200/182/162 The longest hole on the course also has a small green and a big, left front side bunker, giving it the No. 1 overall rating. It’ll play a true 215 moving up the hill, so plan accordingly. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 13: 159/144/124 Another fairly tight window down the hill leads to a wider green, which pitches back toward the tee box. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 14: 159/145/125 An uphill shot leads to a wide green — if the pin is tucked left, it’s another good draw hole. If you’re short, it’ll be a blind chip from below, so make sure you walk up to see what’s available to you. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 15: 141/129/102 The canopy of trees appears a bit taller on 15, but it’s not quite as tight of a shot as some of its predecessors. Slightly downhill to a decently wide green, you can be aggressive with a right-side pin placement. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Signature Hole Hole No. 16: 191/179/156 Your drive takes you over the fountain, uphill to a very small green on the most picturesque and one of the toughest holes on the course. A back left bunker is hidden from the tee box, but will catch long shots that fail to hold the putting surface. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 17: 137/122/102 A shorter-than-the-yardage, downhill shot to a big green, stay out of the bunker and you’ll leave yourself a fairly readable putt. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 18: 157/143/123 For the uphill finisher, bunkers flank both sides of the green. Don’t be afraid to pull an extra club to make sure you reach the putting surface. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
The damage … (WTOP/Noah Frank)

FAIRFAX STATION, Va. — We’ve had a rainy spring, so it’s understandable if you’ve had trouble getting fully into your golf groove now that warmer weather is here. But every new season offers the chance to actually patch up the holes in your (short) game and take the next step toward that lower number. That’s what places like Burke Lake are here for.

With a newly refinished, two-tier driving range, a new practice bunker, and an 18-hole par 3 course, Burke Lake Golf Center gives plenty of opportunity to improve. It’s right there in the name — “golf center.” It’s more than just the course, and the focus has been shifted toward those other facilities.

Before the renovation, roughly 60 percent of the business came from the course itself, but that’s shifted to almost 70 percent coming from the range, according to general manager Lewis Musolf. That emphasis on practice facilities was part of the county’s plan, and it’s paid off. During the summer, the range is open until 11 p.m. each night, offering a rare later-evening option after work.

The course itself offers a fair amount of variety, for a Par 3 offering. Ranging from just over 100 yards to over 200, uphill and down, its biggest challenge is its narrowness, with a couple of spare bunkers and a single water hazard tossed in.

“The big draw here is that, being a Par 3, it’s a short course,” said Musolf. “It’s not intimidating to beginners.”

Just to be clear, that doesn’t mean it’s easy, per se. Several holes play 200+ yards from the blue tees, and you really can’t afford to mishit too many of your irons off the tee and expect to scramble your way to pars.

“Not too many people come out here and shoot even par,” Musolf said.

Obviously, we weren’t the exceptions to the rule.

There are no motorized carts, and therefore no cart service, so be prepared to walk up and down the hills (they took Jake out — we may be on Playing Through hiatus for a while). So enjoy this one … and go practice!

Jake’s Take

I love Par 3 courses because they’re a great way to work on your irons and short game. At Burke Lake, you can use most of the clubs in your bag. The course has a lot of hills, so if you have a swollen knee — like I did, you may want to wait until you are fully healed before playing. That being said, this is an ideal course for the recreational golfer, because you realize what is costing you strokes. With me, I need a lot of work pitching and chipping — specifically I’m awful under 100 yards from the pin. Here’s a tip: if you like to play in the water and you splash your tee shot on No. 11, like me, use the drop zone. I didn’t and it cost me. It’s also a good opportunity to practice a decent pitch to the green. If you need to work on your short and intermediate game or a beginner, Burke Lake is a course you should check out.

Dates and Rates

Open year-round except Christmas Day

Weekday, 18 holes before/after 1 p.m.: $22/$19

Weekday, 9 holes before/after 1 p.m.: $16/$14

Weekend, 18 holes before 1 p.m./1-5 p.m./after 5 p.m.: $27/$24/$22

Weekend, 9 holes before 1 p.m./1-5 p.m./after 5 p.m.: $20/$18/$16


Junior rates: $14.30 for 18 holes, $10.40 for 9 holes

Offseason rates (mid-December to mid-March): $22 for 18 holes, $16 for 9 holes

Range passes: 20 tokens, $77; 40 tokens, $140


Newly renovated restaurant serves food, as well as beer and wine. Elevated dining room overlooks both the course and the range.

Pace of Play

We finished our round in right about 3 hours flat, with nobody in front of us

Dress Code

Casual, collar preferred but not required


Located at 6915 Ox Road, Fairfax Station, Virginia. From the Beltway, take Interstate 95 south to the VA 289 E exit and continue to Fairfax County Parkway. Turn left onto State Route 643, then right onto VA 123 and the course will be on your right.

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