Golfing in the Valley: Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club - Familiar face to bring focus to local market

FRONT ROYAL — A familiar face, Brian Jones, is back on the scene in the local golf market, recently taking over as the general manager at Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club.

Jones, the affable and bespectacled former GM at Bowling Green Country Club with a fondness for sweater vests - no matter the season - came on board at the Shadows after former GM Mike Ahrnsbrak left to take the head professional job at Lexington Country Club.

Jones managed Bowling Green from 2004 to 2013 before heading to Louisiana to be the GM at Copper Mill Golf Club.

"The move to Copper Mill really allowed me to refocus a bit on golf," Jones said. "That may sound strange, but in reality, my last few years at Bowling Green, the banquet business that we built really consumed the majority of my time. This give me an opportunity to get back to my roots a bit."

But Jones and his wife missed life in the Shenandoah Valley and soon began thinking about heading back up north.

The Blue Ridge Shadows job became open and Jones jumped at the opportunity.

"It was very good timing in terms of the opportunity opening up, as my wife and I really wanted to get back home," Jones said. "I think it makes for a good transition for the club as well. The former head professional GM (Ahrsnbrak) had an established reputation in the area. Having spent 10 years in the area myself, I have a lot of insight and familiarity with the local golf market."

Blue Ridge Shadows has long been perceived by locals of being a pricey resort type course, catering to visitors from northern Virginian the D.C. area as well a golf package destination option for traveling golfers.

While BRS will still attract that business, Jones says he wants to change the perception locals have of the course while hoping to attract new members and local daily fee players.

"I think you will see a lot of emphasis on appealing to the local market moving forward," Jones said. "We certainly will still be focused on golf packages with the hotel, and we get a steady flow of traffic, particularly on weekends out of Northern Virginia, but I think that one of the missing elements is local support. We need to try and grow the membership base, both full memberships, as well as our associate membership, The Shadow Club. We will be accessing the current offerings and adjusting them accordingly as we prepare for the 2017 season."

Jones said the facility is already offering incentives to local golfers such as participating with the VSGA discount card, Tee Time Golf Pass, and by allowing daily play any day of the week for as little as $25, depending on the time of day.

A new promotion dubbed, 'Warren County Wednesday' allow residents to play 18 holes with cart for $29 before 2 p.m. and just $19 after 2 p.m.

With the extra hours of daylight this summer, it's an attractive deal.

"When Blue Ridge Shadows first opened that may have been the case," Jones said, referring to the pricing for a round of golf. "But now that is more of a misconception."

Jones stands behind the layout of the course and what it has to offer. The par 72 course plays 7,315 yards form the back tees, by far the longest gold course in the county. But BRS offers four other sets of tees, tumbling all the way down to the 5,006 Red Tees.

"The layout here at BRS is by far the best in the area," Jones said. "While many other clubs in the area are very nice and scenic, we offer the local golfer a chance to play a championship style layout. The course is a true test. It definitely makes you hit every club in your bag, and as long as you attack it form the appropriate set of tees, it still remains very fair no matter what your handicap."

Jones admits that BRS is not in the playing condition that he desires, but new superintendent Steve Cohoon is currently working on bringing the Shadows back up to snuff.

"Steve has 44 years experience and he brings a lot of energy and new ideas to the operation," Jones said. "We are quite positive that he will be able to expand on some of the great things the maintenance team here has done over the years."

Jones and Cohoon have recently assessed the property with course architect Tom Clark and are accepting feedback from the players as well.

"We recognize that the sand traps need some work and the rough has been a point of interest for our players this spring," Jones said. "But that has much more to do with the overwhelming amount of rain that the area received in May. Consistency is the key. We need to be able to offer our players consistent and improving conditions that they can count on when they come out to enjoy a day of golf."

Jones said establishing consistency is a goal, especially with the high turnover at the club in recent months.

"I think I've developed a team that really cares about the future of this facility," Jones said. "In terms of long term goals, we will look to continue to grow golf, focusing on appealing more to the local market, especially with memberships and certainly weekday play. We also will look to expand on the food and beverage operation. The Shadows Grill is a great space and makes it the perfect place for small wedding ceremonies, wedding receptions and fundraising events. We are also starting to promote wedding ceremonies on the 15th tee box and are very excited about the possibilities in regards to that, as the setting is very scenic."

More more information about BRS, visit the website at or contact Jones at the club at 540-631-9661.

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