I took a solo road trip up into VA this week to see these two courses for the first time, but after reading volumes about their closing, purchases, and reopenings. Primarily, as an unabashed Mike Strantz fan, I just wanted to see them.
Stonehouse was perhaps in better shape tee to green than I expected, but the greens were spotty, especially for Bermuda in July. I assume this is a money thing; I don't think many supers with a decent budget and staff would struggle to grow Bermuda in eastern VA. It's too bad, really; the layout itself is really good, and would strike most as a good bit more straightforward than other Strantz courses. I'm not sure what the remedy for this is; on a beautiful day, I saw one other group. Stonehouse is probably far enough from both Richmond and Williamsburg to not be a top option for golfers in either city.
But I'd play Stonehouse again, without question, even with the current condition of the greens. What can I say? I love his golf courses.
Royal New Kent was wonderful, thrilling, crazy, vintage Strantz. Excellent condition, including the greens that were just recovering from mid-summer aeration. All the cool stuff you get on a Strantz course; visually intimidating tee shots that have mostly hidden landing area that is 50+ yds wide, a par 3 green that is shaped like a curved dumbbell and is 70 yds deep (you can't even see all of it when you are ON it!), and a par 4 that has a completely hidden green with a pole on the dune in front of it as an aiming point.
RNK didn't exactly call to mind any of the other Strantz courses, though I've heard comparisons with Tobacco Road. There are similar elements to ALL of the Strantz courses, but RNK is its own place, and in no way comes across as derivative. Actually , if anything, it reminded me most of Streamsong; unexpected elevation changes for where you are, and great use of the terrain, though I would rate the greens at RNK as quite a bit easier than any of the Streamsong courses.