Pocoshock is “Pocorock” No More

When Buddy Sowers and Lester George played Pocoshock Golf Club two decades ago, golfers nicknamed it “Pocorock” because of the rocky topsoil. “Sometimes you'd hit a ball and sparks would fly,” said Sowers, who today is president of GBS Holdings. GBS is completely rebuilding the course, which was closed in 1986.

George, a golf course architect based in Richmond who is designing the new Pocoshock, said the six inches of sand that will cover the rocky site is just one of the improvements planned. “We're taking advantage of existing terrain and vegetation, including some massive specimen oaks, pin oaks, poplars, and other trees,” George said. “I am using those trees, Pocoshock Creek which bisects the property, and the terrain to dictate the routing, picking corridors around them and avoiding wetlands created by beavers since the property was abandoned.”

George also has almost twice the amount of land as the original Pocoshock, which sat on 100 acres. The new project covers 215 acres – 30 to 35 acres of which GBS Holdings will use for housing. “We're putting 11 and a half holes where there used to be 18,” George said. “It will be a par-70 laid out over 6,400 yards, with 25 bunkers and six par-3s. Daily-fee golfers really like to play par-3s. This set of par-3s has a lot of variety and none are brutally long.”

Construction will be friendly to the environment. George said little earth will be moved, and Sowers added, “We will actually be doing stream bed restoration. So instead of impacting wetlands, when we finish there will be a beneficial impact on wetlands, stream beds, etc.”

Meanwhile, the six-inch all-sand cap will cost only $75,000, compared to the $500,000 price for loamy topsoil. “The sand is critical to the project remaining affordable and it passes specs for California sand-based greens,” George said. “But ‘affordable’ does not mean this will not be terrific. It will be a showcase, affordable course.”

Keeping the cost down is crucial to low greens fees, according to Sowers. “Our goal is to keep the green fees in the low-$30 range,” he said. “We would like to be selling hotdogs for 50 cents and beers for a dollar.”

Sowers plans a “very moderate but comfortable” clubhouse and a minimal pro shop since Pocoshock's intent is “a pure golf experience.” Situated near the intersection of U.S. Route 60 and the Powhite Expressway, on the south side of Richmond, Pocoshock “is and always has been a wonderful location for moderately priced daily-fee golf, which is what we want,” Sowers said. “Witness the rounds that it did in years past. Before it closed, it was hosting well over 50,000 rounds a year. And the demographics have gotten even better since then.”

Sowers said he asked George to design “a durable golf course but one that is fun and challenging. It will be a challenge for the low-handicapper but won't brutalize a high-handicap golfer.” The housing component, he said, will be built at the same time as the course, with an expected opening in the late spring or early summer of 2002.