Fairfax National is closed! It closed two or three years ago, I think in late 2010. It was taken over by developers for houses. As yet I don't think anything has been done in this economy. If you search the web you can find a posting or two with photos of what an abandoned golf course looks like. Pretty sad. That said, the couple of other posters here had it right. They had crammed three 9-hole courses into space that really should have only had 18 holes. If you weren't a particularly good golfer, you found yourself at personal peril playing off adjacent fairways on quite a few holes!
The demise of this course is symptomatic of what is happening to a lot of golf courses in Northern Virginia. They aren't that great to start with. Rounds-played is down nationally. So these marginal course don't have money to spend on maintenance. The courses decline. Even fewer want to play them. The death spiral begins. Probably Chantilly National and Penderbrook, maybe a few others in the area, may soon follow Fairfax National.
What a waste of land.
They have 27 holes in what would otherwise be a crowded 18 hole facility. The pace of play is usually north of 5 hours for 18 holes. Their range is mats only. To their credit, they usually water the place keeping it green through the summer. The greens are usually a little shaggy and dog slow.
The overall layout is short. Most hole play as a driver & 8 iron (150 yds) or shorter. The par 5s are all reachable. Most of the holes are a same and play parallel to one another. If you miss the fairway, you'll be in someone elses fairway 90% of the time.
This is a terrible layout that is poorly managed.
This cow path plays ask-for-your-money back slow, is in poor shape, and isn't interesting to boot. I played there on Sunday, May 10th -- split my time between the Antietam and Wilderness nine -- at a 7-hour round pace. After about 11 holes, my playing partner and I gave up and decided to just head home. I won't bother going back again.
Course. The course is flat and straight -- basically, each hole doubles back on the last. As a consequence, I was almost hit by other players three times today -- and not once did anyone yell four (which, I think, speaks to the type of golfers who frequent this course). The holes are relatively indistinguishable, and the greens played about the same. This is by no means a pretty course -- below average for a public course in the area. And it would be extremely easy if it weren't for the mature trees that lined almost every hole.
Condition. The course wasn't in very good shape when we played. The grass was long. The fairways played like backyard rough; the rough played like a pasture in places; and there were puddles -- deep ones -- everywhere. Clearly, the course has some real drainage problems and needs to be mowed (isn't that the maintenance crew's primary job?). These are basic problems that ought to be addressed before the weekend, when lots of folks want to play.
Pace. The starter did an absolutely atrocious job today. A series of twosomes -- none matched together -- slowed play in front of us. Some walked. Others rode. From appearances, many hit the ball about 100 yards a swing. We were all at the mercy of the slowest and worst golfers in front of us, and there were a series who were about the slowest around. The starter should have both paired twosomes with each other and encouraged folks to play more quickly. This is basic stuff that most courses do just fine. While I'm quite happy playing with poor golfers -- I'm not great myself -- people should at least be polite and quick with their game. This was weekend hacking at its worst.
My playing partner remarked that we got what we paid for: a round of 18 at about $40 bucks, admittedly, was cheap. But I won't be paying for or playing another round at Fairfax National again. Ultimately, this course is fine for beginners, and probably playable when not crowded, especially -- especially -- at the price. But there are better choices in the greater D.C. area, and I've only played one worse here.