Add a blast from the past to your next golf trip, with this battle-themed drive from Pennsylvania to Virginia
There are few subjects capable of inspiring obsessive examination like Civil War battles. The genealogy of generals is plotted to cousins twice removed. Battle plans are scrutinized and criticized. The deadly dance of each regiment can be recreated -- and often is -- like a production of "Swan Lake" by professors and dentists dressed up in blue wool or butternut gray.
Golf just might be the only other subject on earth that can withstand, or demand, the same level of analysis. Swing planes and coefficient of restitution; the Claw grip and the Road Hole bunker; Wild Bill Mehlhorn and Robert Tyre Jones. For those who like to indulge these twin manias, chasing history and golf balls, there is a convenient way to do it, driving from Gettysburg, Pa., to Petersburg, Va., and exploring the better courses in between.
Much of the Civil War route is in or near the I-95 corridor, with all the usual Red Holiday Courtyards, but the many bed and breakfasts of Gettysburg or Fredericksburg, Va., offer a more genteel accommodation. Visit www.bbonline.com for some suggestions. The length of the trip depends largely on the ratio of battlefields visited to golf courses played, so it can last anywhere from a couple of days to a week. Even allowing for some to-ing and fro-ing, the journey is not long. It covers about 250 miles.
The battles themselves tended to be fought in the good-weather months from April to September -- the December combat in Fredericksburg being the glaring exception. While the heat of the summer can get a little sticky for golf, there is a haunting quality to visiting the battlefields when they're covered with corn or wildflowers, just as they were for the soldiers 140 years ago.
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