- The Washington Times - Friday, March 29, 2002


BEACH CLUB
INNER LINKS (
*** 1/2)
Location:
Berlin - 7 miles west of Ocean City on Deer Park Drive
Yardage/par:
7,020/72
Rating/slope:
73.0/128
Architect:
Brian Ault (1991)
Fees:
$57-$75 Phone: 800/435-9223
Driving range:
Mats
Layout:
Don't come here looking for seaside panorama. This heavily wooded Brian Ault design is more Grizzly Adams than David Hasselhoff. The key here is club selection off the tee. A very tight course featuring a marvelous collection of trees that belie its age (1991), the Beach Club will take the driver out of a smart player's hands, forcing one to work backward from the green for par.

BEECHTREE (
**** 1/2)
Location:
Aberdeen - Take 95 north to Exit 80. Three miles northeast of junction of Routes 543 and 7 off Stepney Road.
Yardage/par:
7,023/71
Rating/slope:
75.5/147
Architect:
Tom Doak (1998)
Fees:
$70-$85 Phone: 410/297-9700
Driving range:
Grass
Layout: Truly sensational. Budding architectural superstar Tom Doak moved very little dirt at Beechtree but managed to superbly mix links-style and parkland features to produce a layout eclipsed only by nearby Bulle Rock (Havre de Grace) among the region's premier publics. Doak's creation will remind players somewhat of both Bristow Manor (Bristow, Va.) and Raspberry Falls (Leesburg, Va.), but the layout greatly outstrips the Scottish flavor that Bristow attempts to summon, while avoiding the slightly affected linksland feel that Gary Player manufactured at Raspberry.

BOWIE (
**)
Location:
Bowie - Just off Route 197
Yardage/par:
6,142/70
Rating/slope:
69.8/114
Architect:
Unknown (1959)
Head pro:
Fred Ryder, PGA
Fees:
$25-$43Phone: 301/262-8141
Driving range:
Mats (irons only)
Layout: Short course that usually maintains decent conditions. Infusion of trees over the years has erased poor framing that characterized original product. Nothing menacing until the par-4 18th. Good stretch on front, beginning with No. 3. Too many short par-4s on the back.

BRETON BAY (
*** 1/2)
Location:
Leonardtown - 9 miles northwest of Leonardtown off of Route 5 on Society Hill Road
Yardage/par:
7,001/72
Rating/slope:
73.0/126
Architect:
J. Porter Gibson (1974)
Head pro:
Bob Arnold, PGA
Fees:
$26-$42 Phone: 301/475-2300
Driving range:
Grass/mats
Layout: Extremely solid municipal plan will remind players of a toned-down Swan Point. Some of the classic Eastern Shore features a profusion of water, moderate foliage, and virtually no elevation change but this is basically a no-frills facility. You won't be overwhelmed by conditions or vistas (despite a scenic view of the Potomac River from the first tee box); you will be impressed by the consistency of the design and the daunting dimensions of the challenge. The shortest par-4 on the layout measures 389 yards, and the par-3s are the longest in the region (averaging 214 yards). Bring a 5-wood.

BULLE ROCK (
*****)
Location:
Havre de Grace - 3 miles east of I-95 off Exit 85
Yardage/par:
7,375/72
Rating/slope:
76.4/147
Architect:
Pete Dye (1999)
Fees:
$145 Phone: 410/939-8887
Driving range:
Grass
Layout:
Major championship potential. The best overall facility in the region, public or private. Master architect Pete Dye took "the best piece of inland property I've ever had to work with" and fashioned an unforgettable layout on the 564-acre site. With at least 12 (Nos. 2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17 and 18) phenomenal offerings, it's impossible to pick a signature hole. Offering tree-lined tests, open adventures, water-guarded gems, length to test a tour player, breath-taking elevation changes and devilishly slick greens, it's worth the outlandish price tag. Throw in impeccable conditioning, practice facilities and service, and Bulle Rock belongs in a class with only Pinehurst among East Coast publics.

LINKS AT CHALLEDON (
*** 1/2)
Location:
Mount Airy - 4 miles north of the intersection of I-70 and Route 27 on Gillis Falls Road
Yardage/par:
6,709/72
Rating/slope:
71.3/124
Architect:
Ault, Clark and Ass. (1996)
Fees:
$35-$60 Phone: 301/829-3000
Driving range:
Grass/mats
Layout: In a word, playable. This user-friendly layout from Ault, Clark and Associates measures just 6,700 yards from the back tees with only a smattering of water hazards. Wide fairways and extremely receptive greens make scoring a possibility for players of all levels. That said, if there's a Mr. Hyde to Challedon, it's the course's relatively thick stand of rough.

CLUSTERED SPIRES (
***)
Location:
Frederick - 3 miles north of historic Frederick on Church Street
Yardage/par:
6,795/72
Rating/slope:
72.7/130
Architect:
Brian Ault (1991)
Fees:
$20-$45 Phone: 301/624-1295
Driving range:
Grass
Layout:
The Jeff Maggert of municipals. Solid, if extremely simple, design from the area's most prolific architectural firm. This open, parkland plan will remind players somewhat of Reston National, the Ault family's definitive municipal offering. But unlike Reston's rolling, sneaky-punitive layout, Clustered Spires is shorter, flatter and undeniably easier.

EAGLE'S LANDING (
*** 1/2)
Location:
Berlin - 1 mile west and 2 miles south of Ocean City on Route 50
Yardage/par:
7,003/72
Rating/slope:
74.3/126
Architect:
Michael Hurdzan (1991)
Fees:
$45-$65 Phone: 410/213-7277
Driving range:
None
Layout:
Resort golf personified. Every hole on this devilishly tight adventure in target golf features water or marshland. The 435-yard, par-4 sixth might be the toughest hole on the planet. No. 18, presumptuously labeled "The Beast," can easily be tamed with a pair of well-struck mid-irons. This is a lot of golf course for $32 easily Ocean City's best value.

EASTON CLUB (
*** 1/2)
Location:
Easton - Take Route 50 to Route 322. Follow 322 to Oxford. Turn right onto Oxford Road, entrance on right
Yardage/par:
6,238/72
Rating/slope:
69.2/113
Architect:
Robert Rauch (1995)
Fees:
$25-$49 Phone: 800/277-9800
Driving range:
Grass
Layout:
Very solid collection of holes manages to avoid devolving into target golf despite using water on 15 holes. Unremarkable terrain produces few awe-inspiring holes but many that are quite good. Excellent routing leads to an array of delightful driving holes.

EISENHOWER (
** 1/2)
Location:
Crownsville - Off Route 178 about 4 miles northwest of Annapolis
Yardage/par:
6,662/71
Rating/slope:
71.4/122
Architect:
Ed Ault (1970)
Fees:
$25-$43 Phone: 410/571-0973
Driving range:
Mats
Layout: Delightful design hurt somewhat by perennially spotty conditions. Some holes are as good as you'll find on a public. Rolling terrain, lots of water, no housing developments to mar surroundings. Fairways are wide but tree-lined. An example of how basic layouts can be attractive.

ENTERPRISE (
***)
Location: Mitchellville - Just off Route 193
Yardage/par: 6,587/72
Rating/slope:
71.7/128
Architect:
Dunovan and Associates (1976)
Fees:
$23-$40 Phone: 301/249-2040
Driving range:
Grass/mats
Layout:
Busiest daily-fee within immediate metropolitan region. Solid collection of holes without any superstars or bums. Conventional parkland design on ideal terrain with just three water holes, some tight fairways and spacious ones according to length. A very solid municipal.

FALLS ROAD (
**)
Location:
Potomac - 20 miles northwest of the District off of Falls Road
Yardage/par:
6,257/71
Rating/slope:
69.0/120
Architect:
Ed Ault (1955)
Fees:
$27-$46 Phone: 301/299-5156
Driving range:
Grass/mats
Layout: Wide-open front nine looks like a pasture, but the back ventures into heavily wooded property and includes some very strong holes. Biggest problem involves framing, or a lack thereof. Only one water hole. All three par-5s are reachable in two. Very rolling terrain throughout.

GLENN DALE CC (
** 1/2)
Location:
Glenn Dale - 15 miles northeast of the District just off Route 193
Yardage/par:
6,282/70
Rating/slope:
70.0/115
Architect:
George W. Cobb (1955)
Fees:
$27-$49 Phone: 301/464-0904
Driving range:
Mats
Layout:
Cobb, best best known for designing Augusta National's par-3 course, crafted some of the area's most murderous greens at Glenn Dale. Shortage of meaty par-4s is offset by emphasis on ball position. Not so much tight as exacting; don't play approach shots above the hole. Radical mix of long and short, only three holes affected by water. Target golf meets conventional design.
GREEN HILL (
****)
Location:
Salisbury - 25 miles west of Ocean City and 6 miles off route 50 on Whitehaven Road in Wicomico County
Yardage/par:
6,790/72
Rating/slope:
72.2/126
Architect:
Alfred H. Tull (1927)
Fees:
$53-$69 Phone: 410/749-1605
Driving range:
Grass
Layout: This Eastern shore gem coasted along in anonymous bliss as a private club for nearly 50 years until the folks at Green Hill decided to play Willy Wonka, opening their doors to public play in 1997 to increase revenue. What the public has discovered is an antique masterpiece oozing old world appeal. Thanks to the architectural philosophy of yesteryear and a liberal dose of real estate, Green Hill offers generous fairways, mature greens and a simple design without a railroad tie in sight. As you survey the huge aging trees, you'll swear you're at Congressional CC.

GREYSTONE GC (
****)
Location:
Whitehall - 5 miles from Exit 31 off of I-83 on White Hall Road
Yardage/par:
6,925/72
Rating/slope:
73.5/139
Architect:
Joe Lee (1997)
Fees:
$46-$65 Phone: 410/887-1945
Driving range:
Grass
Layout:
Creative blend of holes. Other than an architectural hiccup at No. 3, a 402-yard eyesore dominated by a man-made lake, Greystone's front nine is both extremely entertaining and extremely challenging. The back nine, highlighted by a unique combination of three par-3s, three par-4s and three par-5s, is markedly less difficult than the front side, but more polished and aesthetically pleasing. Greens are pitched a bit too severely, but with a few softened edges and some maturity, Greystone should evolve into one of the mid-Atlantic's elite staples.

HAMPSHIRE GREENS (
*** 1/2)
Location:
Rockville - 8 miles north of I-495 on New Hampshire Avenue
Yardage/par:
6,815/72
Rating/slope:
72.1/122
Architect:
Lisa Maki (1999)
Fees:
$48-$60Phone: 301/476-7999
Driving range:
Grass/mats
Layout:
Golf's equivalent to the tomboy next door; Hampshire Greens is nobody's dream date, but she's solid and readily available. In terms of the actual design, Maki won't wow many folks with this offering. But there aren't many comparable layouts within 20 minutes of downtown. And while the overall flavor of the plan is raw municipal, Maki manages to convey her appreciation for classic British Isles design at Hampshire Greens; most of the best holes on the property (Nos. 16, 17 and 18) mimic the classic simplicity of Old Country architecture.

HARBOURTOWNE G&CC; (
*** 1/2)
Location:
St. Michaels - 12 miles south of Bay Bridge east of Easton
Yardage/par:
6,320/70
Rating/slope:
69.5/120
Architect:
Pete and Roy Dye (1971)
Fees:
$55-$65Phone: 800/446-9066
Driving range:
Grass
Layout: A little like playing Green Hill in a straitjacket. Extremely tight, semiprivate design is extremely well manicured and manages to avoid devolving into pure target golf despite semi-claustrophobic routing. Like Green Hill, private membership gives Harbourtowne that old, country club feel.

HOG NECK (
*** 1/2)
Location:
Easton - Just off Route 50 on Old Cordova Road
Yardage/par:
7,056/72
Rating/slope:
73.8/125
Architect:
Lindsay Ervin (1976)
Fees:
$35-$55 Phone: 410/822-6079
Driving range:
Mats
Layout: After playing Hog Neck, you'll wonder if architect Lindsay Ervin was a schizophrenic. You could play the game for a lifetime and never come across a course with two nines as different. The front nine is a wide-open, relatively short affair typical of Eastern Shore golf that screams "beat me!" like single coverage on Randy Moss. The back nine is a much longer, parkland ride rife with tight, tree-lined fairways that is guaranteed to take back every stroke that the front side hands you. If the opening nine borders on pedestrian, the closing nine is both brutally challenging and aesthetically stunning.

LAKE ARBOR (
**)
Location:
Mitchellville - About 1 mile off Route 202 near U.S. Air Arena
Yardage/par:
6,406/71
Rating/slope:
73.1/127
Architect:
Various (1974)
Fees:
$21-$44Phone: 301/336-7771
Driving range:
Grass/mats
Layout:
Tight, residential course that can be pure hell for slicers. Out-of-bounds stakes throw a scare into 17 holes. Some outstanding par-4s but at least one silly par-5. Very few trees and little water but lots of fairway houses. A much tougher test from the back tees.

LAYTONSVILLE (
** 1/2)
Location:
Laytonsville - Near the intersection of Route 124 and Dorsey Road
Yardage/par:
6,311/70
Rating/slope:
70.1/115
Architect:
Robert L. Elder (1973)
Fees:
$24-$45Phone: 301/948-5288
Driving range:
Mats
Layout:
Short, spacious and not heavily bunkered basic design. Usually in decent condition for a place that handles 70,000 rounds a year. Rock formations on property made course construction difficult and explain the diminutive greens. Back nine is 300 yards shorter than front.

THE LINKS AT LIGHTHOUSE
SOUND (**** 1/2)
Location:
Bishopville - 1 mile north of the St. Martin Neck Bridge
Yardage/par:
7,031/72
Rating/slope:
73.3/144
Architect:
Arthur Hills (2000)
Fees:
$115-$135Phone: 410/352-5767
Driving range:
Grass
Layout:
A phenomenal piece of property that almost convinces you to forget you're playing resort-style target golf. Generally, this Hills creation is generous off the tee and absolutely merciless from the fairway. As you snake through the marsh, gawking at the views of the Ocean City skyline and Assawoman Bay, it's easy to get distracted from the daunting task at hand. Only three par-4s on the property measure less than 390, meaning you'll spend the day snuggling with your medium irons.

LITTLE BENNETT (
** 1/2)
Location:
Clarksburg - 3 miles north of junction of routes 109 and 355 on Lewisdale Road
Yardage/par:
6,682/72
Rating/slope:
72.9/133
Architect:
Michael Hurdzan (1994)
Fees:
$32-$59 Phone: 301/253-1515
Driving range:
Grass
Layout: Funky ride through contoured farmland in northern Montgomery County. Tons of hidden pins and weird lies, not a lot of trees, mounds galore. Water is a major factor on several holes. Sort of like playing Bristow Manor with a blindfold. Hurdzan, whose other contribution to the region is Ocean City's Eagle's Landing, probably has doglegged closets in his house.

MARLBOROUGH CC (
** 1/2)
Location: Upper Marlboro - 1 mile north of Route 4 on Old Marlboro Pike
Yardage/par: 6,147/71
Rating/slope:
69.5/127
Architect:
Algie Pulley (1974)
Fees:
$30-$45 Phone: 301/952-1350
Driving range:
Mats (irons only)
Layout:
A mix of finicky target golf and spacious fairways set on heavily wooded property. Ideal golfland despite a smattering of houses. A front nine laden with fairway bunkers keeps things interesting, but the best stretch of holes begins at No. 15 and runs to the finish. Water figures prominently here, but Marlborough is an easy course if you're accurate off the tee.

MARLTON (
***)
Location:
Upper Marlboro - 5 miles south of intersection of Route 4 and Route 301 off Old Indian Head Road
Yardage/par:
6,300/72
Rating/slope:
69.8/123
Architect: Ault, Clark and Ass. (1998 redesign)
Fees: $24-$48Phone: 301/856-7566
Driving range:
Grass/mats
Layout: Overhauled version of ill-fated Brandywine Country Club, Ault and Clark did typically solid work in shaping a new front nine to go with the original plan's pedestrian nine-hole layout. Front side is a meandering woodland waltz similar to Potomac Ridge (Accokeek). Despite the facelift there simply isn't enough real estate on the closing nine to maintain the front-nine standard. Even relatively short hitters will need only a pair of drivers on the back (on the two par-5s), as severe doglegs, sloping, poorly defined landing areas and extremely tight, short holes predominate. Think 4-iron, not driver, and prepare for a testament to target golf.

MOUNT PLEASANT (
** )
Location:
Baltimore - Northern Parkway, off I-695
Yardage/par:
6,757/71
Rating/slope:
71.8/119
Architect: Gus Hook (1933)
Fees:
$23-$24Phone: 410/254-5100
Driving range:
None
Layout:
A fairly basic track from tee to green, Mount Pleasant bares itsteeth on the putting surfaces with a nasty collection of large poa annuanightmares. A half dozen of the greens are almost unfairly sloped, but if you keep your approaches below the hole, this is a relatively playable course. Best known as the site of Arnold Palmer's second professional victory, when Mount Pleasant hosted the 1956 Eastern Open.

MOUNTAIN BRANCH (
**** 1/2)
Location:
Joppa - 1.5 miles from the junction of I-95 and Exit 74 (Fallston) North of Baltimore.
Yardage/par:
6,969/72
Rating/slope:
TBD/TBD
Architects:
Davis Sezna and Jeff Matthai (2000)
Fees:
$95Phone: 410/836-9600
Driving range:
Grass
Layout: Fairly open driving course places its ultimate shot-value premium on accurate approaches. Aside from that, Mountain Branch escapes easy classification. Sezna and Matthai did an outstanding job of mixing lengths, styles and looks. The final product is varied enough to command a player's interest from the first tee to the final tap without seeming contrived or jumbled. Only two holes might be described as ordinary (Nos. 8 and 13), leaving the layout with an almost unheard-of 16 gems. In the region, only nearby Bulle Rock (Havre de Grace) boasts a similar number of memorable offerings.

NEEDWOOD (** 1/2)
Location:
Derwood - 22 miles north of the District near Rockville off Redland Road, about 2 miles east of Route 355
Yardage/par:
6,254/70
Rating/slope:
69.1/113
Architect:
Lindsay Ervin (1969)
Fees:
$26-$45Phone: 301/948-1075
Driving range:
Mats
Layout: Not quite as hilly as nearby Redgate but a member of the same species. Slanted fairways, large and docile greens, nothing in the way of irritating surprises. Conditions have been a problem in summer. Excellent finishing hole, plus a couple of others that can catch you napping. Rather pretty, not very difficult.

NORTHWEST PARK (
** 1/2)
Location:
Wheaton - 15 miles north of the District on Layhill Road
Yardage/par:
7,185/72
Rating/slope:
74.0/122
Architect:
Ed Ault/Russell Roberts (1964)
Fees:
$26-$45Phone: 301/598-6100
Driving range:
Mats
Layout:
More of Ed Ault's signature design traits. Wide fairways and a sparse number of bunkers but long from any tees. Driver's paradise with public-friendly greens. Not particularly wooded. Just two water holes. Some hillside lies. Not the place to make poor contact. Heavy play hurts conditions at times.

P.B. DYE GOLF CLUB (
**** 1/2)
Location:
Urbana - 1 mile from the junction of I-270 and Exit 22 on Dr. Perry Road
Yardage/par:
7,036/72
Rating/slope:
74.6/141
Architect:
P.B. Dye (1999)
Fees:
$69-$89Phone: 301/607-4653
Driving range:
Grass
Layout: One of the most opulent layouts in the region and certainly the most difficult. P.B. has obviously got the family fetish for railroad ties; Amtrak could raid the property and build a line to Urbana. Several blind teeshots and a sadistically superfluous pond right of the fourth green detract from the experience, though a major overhaul was recently completed to soften the design. After a suspect start almost certain to wreak havoc on your scorecard, the final 12 holes are as solid architecturally as they are scintillating. The back nine is like a two-hour trip to Tiffany's, as the incomparable gems just keep coming. Replay rounds Monday through Thursday are free!

POOLESVILLE (
** 1/2)
Location:
Poolesville - 12 miles west of the Route 28 junction at I-270 in western Montgomery County
Yardage/par:
6,757/71
Rating/slope:
72.3/123
Architect:
Ed Ault (1963)
Fees:
$24-$42Phone: 301/428-8143
Driving range:
Grass/mats
Layout:
Straightforward municipal test with wide fairways, not many bunkers and big greens. The opposite of Pohick. Few water holes. Best holes take advantage of moderate changes in terrain. Not much defense from course when wind isn't blowing and ball rolls forever.

POTOMAC RIDGE (
*** 1/2)
Location:
Accokeek - 10 miles southeast of intersection of I-495 and Route 210 on Sharperville Road
Yardage/par:
6,505/72
Rating/slope:
69.2/113
Architect:
Tom Clark (1995)
Fees:
$39-$51Phone: 301/372-1305
Driving range:
Grass/mats
Layout: Another solid performance from Ault, Clark and Associates. The front side is more traditional in style, featuring a bevy of tight, tree-lined fairways and elevated greens. The back side is a little more adventuresome, combining a smattering of watery graves with some extreme elevation changes. Well-placed tee balls are the key to scoring here, because most of the approaches are straightforward and most greens flat.

QUEENSTOWN HARBOR (
*** 1/2)
Location: Queenstown - 10 miles east of the Bay Bridge on Route 301, just after routes 50 and 301 split
Yardage/par: 7,110/72 (River); 6,537/71 (Lakes)
Rating/slope:
74.2/138 (River), 71.0/124 (Lakes)
Architect:
Lindsay Ervin (1991)
Fees:
$49-$89Phone: 800/827-5257
Driving range:
Mats
Layout:
The area's original upscale daily-fee facility, this Lindsay Ervin creation offers 36 holes of quality golf. Demanding River Course plays flat but to severe coastal breezes, trimmed by woods, water and swamp. Inland Lakes is of similar style but more forgiving - wind and length are less a factor. A decent deal during the week, Queenstown is a bit over-trafficked and under-manicured for its weekend price tag.

REDGATE (
** 1/2)
Location: Rockville - 8 miles north of the District near Norbeck Road on Avery Road
Yardage/par:
6,486/71
Rating/slope:
71.7/131
Architect:
Thurman Donovan (1974)
Fees:
$28-$46Phone: 301/309-3055
Driving range:
Grass/mats
Layout: Dramatic contours are the obvious feature here. Downhill shots at Nos. 2 and 17 make club selection crucial. Uphill holes at Nos. 5 and 7 produce short par-4s that play longer than the yardage. A strange but effective design, given the lay of the land. Greens are suspect on occasion. Best stretch begins at No. 12 and covers the final third of the course.

RIVER DOWNS (
***)
Location:
Finksburg - 30 miles northwest of Baltimore in Carroll County
Yardage/par:
6,873/72
Rating/slope:
71.4/132
Architect:
Arthur Hills (1995)
Fees:
$40-$60 Phone: 410/526-2000
Driving range:
Grass/mats
Layout:
You would be hard-pressed to find a more distinctive course than River Downs. With elevation changes of more than 100 feet and six holes dominated by gaping ravines, this Arthur Hills brainchild has more personality than Deion Sanders. At times, the mountainside course borders on the absurdly unfair, but the overall layout is a winner. Bring a wealth of golf balls and be prepared for some extremely demanding target golf.

RIVER RUN (
****)
Location:
Berlin - Just across the bridge from Ocean City on Masters Lane
Yardage/par:
6,705/71
Rating/slope:
70.4/128
Architect:
Gary Player (1991)
Fees:
$79-$89Phone: 410/641-7200
Driving range:
Grass
Layout: A study in transitions, this Gary Player signature course starts out as a tight woodland affair, segues into an open, treeless stretch of holes and finishes with a flurry of water-dominated, resort-style challenges. The par-3 16th is the only suspect hole in an extremely solid layout.

ROCKY POINT (
***)
Location:
Essex - 9 miles south of the intersection of I-695 and Route 702
Yardage/par:
6,753/72
Rating/slope:
73.8/132
Architect:
Russell Roberts (1971)
Fees:
$17-$32Phone: 410/887-0215
Driving range:
Grass/mats
Layout:
One of the better facilities run by the Baltimore County Revenue Authority, Rocky Point features enormous fairways and greens so large you often putt through several area codes. The general architectural theme is spacious, flat, mature parkland municipal, though some slight shaping off tees is required on the back nine.

RUM POINTE
SEASIDE GOLF LINKS (****)
Location:
Berlin - Just south of Ocean City and 7 miles off Route 611 toward Assateague Island
Yardage/par:
7,001/72
Rating/slope:
72.6/122
Architect:
Pete and P.B. Dye (1997)
Fees: $85-$99Phone: 410/629-1414
Driving range:
Grass
Layout: Designed by the father and son architectural team of Pete and P.B. Dye, Rum Pointe is clustered at the top of the Ocean City pecking order with Lighthouse Sound and River Run. But don't let the cosmetic name mislead you - Rum Pointe is more akin to a typical oceanside American resort course than a true linksland layout, with only six holes that actually conjour images of the British Isles. But with extraordinary views of Sinepuxent Bay, and a slew of dastardly water holes, there isn't a throwaway on the course.

SOUTH RIVER GL (
****)
Location:
Edgewater - 7 miles off Route 50 just south of Annapolis
Yardage/par:
6,723/72
Rating/slope:
71.8/133
Architect:
Brian Ault (1996)
Fees:
$55-$72Phone: 800/767-4837
Driving range:
Grass/mats
Layout: The course starts a bit fast; Nos. 1 and 2 are the two hardest holes on the front side and require a bit much from a player still thinking about the drive to Edgewater, but the penal beginning segues into a tremendous front nine oozing with character and aesthetic appeal. Brief lapses into target golf are overwhelmed by a slew of solid and challenging holes as pleasing to play as they are to the eye.

SWAN POINT (
**** 1/2)
Location:
Issue - 9 miles east of Route 301 and 50 miles southeast of the District in Charles County
Yardage/par:
6,761 yards, par 72
Rating/slope:
72.5/126
Architect:
Arthur Davis and Bob Cupp (1989)
Fees:
$59-$79Phone: 301/259-0047
Driving range:
Mats
Layout: Classic example of Southern Maryland providing Carolina-style ambience. Ample carries over marsh, some very narrow fairways, brutish back-nine par-3s. True isolation - only the wildlife will see you make double bogey. Designer Bob Cupp, former senior architect for Jack Nicklaus, makes strong use of splendid natural surroundings. Perhaps the best-kept secret in the Middle Atlantic.

THE TIMBERS AT TROY (
***)
Location:
Elkridge - Take I-195 east to Route 1 south, make a left at Marshalee Drive and follow to clubhouse
Yardage/par:
6,652/72
Rating/slope:
72.1/134
Architect:
Brian Ault and Ken Killian (1996)
Fees:
$25-$55
Phone: 410/313-4653
Driving range:
Grass/mats
Layout:
An entertaining design by Ken Killian that could have been much better, considering the extraordinary piece of property. The Timbers has its memorable moments, but with only two par-4s of 400 yards or more from the back tees, its lack of length inevitably makes it more an adventure in target golf and less a pure test of ball-striking ability.

TROTTER'S GLEN (
**)
Location: Olney - Two blocks north of Norbeck Road off Batchellors Forest Road
Yardage/par:
6,220/72
Rating/slope:
69.3/117
Architect:
Ault, Clark and Ass. (1993)
Fees:
$26-$43Phone: 301/570-4951
Driving range:
Grass
Layout:
A links style course with few trees. Extremely short and equally tight. Always in pretty good shape because the fairways and rough are kept a little long. After the second hole, an excellent, medium-length par-4, you might fall asleep. Leave your driver in the trunk. With the course built along both sides of Batchellors Road and offering few trees to deflect errant shots, an erratic driver can turn Trotter's into a nightmare.

TWIN SHIELDS GC (
** 1/2)
Location:
Dunkirk - Just off Route 4 in Calvert County
Yardage/par:
6,321/70
Rating/slope:
68.2/118
Architect:
Roy and Ray Shields (1969)
Fees:
$25-$48Phone: 410/257-7800
Driving range:
Mats (irons only)
Layout:
Unspoiled rural setting was flattened considerably from its original formation. Five man-made ponds produce seven water holes and several par-3s with tee-to-green carries. Infusion of trees over the years has improved framing and aesthetics. Best stretch is Nos. 9-11, where length makes its only dramatic appearance.

MARYLAND U. (
*** 1/2)
Location:
College Park - Across from the campus on Route 193
Yardage/par:
6,654/71
Rating/slope:
71.7/120
Architect:
George W. Cobb (1956)
Fees:
$32-$51Phone: 301/314-4653
Driving range:
Mats
Layout:
Superb Edmund Ault design has undergone major renovations in recent years. Heavily tree-lined, excellent routing, favorable use of ideal golfland topography. Hard to notice you're inside the Beltway. Collection of par-3s is among mid-Atlantic's best. Will take everything you've got to score. This place could be a killer with a little more money and some TLC.

WAKEFIELD VALLEY (
*** 1/2)
Location:
Westminster - 1 mile north of intersection of Route 140 and Route 31 in Carroll County north of Baltimore
Yardage/par:
3,574/36 (Green); 3,464/36 (White); 3,359/36 (Gold)
Rating/slope:
74.1/138 (Green-White); 73.6/139 (White-Gold), 74.4/139 (Gold-Green)
Architect:
Wayne Weller and Russell Roberts (1978)
Fees:
$30-$49Phone: 410/876-6662
Driving range:
Grass/mats
Layout: Former dairy farm scatters across hilly terrain, ranks as one of region's toughest public courses because of length and undulating greens. Original nine (Green) has the best par-4s, White Course the best par-5s, Gold the best par-3s. No woods to worry about but plenty of water. Room for the driver, trouble for the putter.

WAVERLY WOODS (
**** )
Location:
Marriottsville - 2 miles north of Marriottsville Road exit off of I-70 on Dorchester Way
Yardage/par:
7,024/72
Rating/slope:
73.1/132
Architect:
Arthur Hills (1998)
Fees:
$57-$74Phone: 410/313-9182
Driving range:
Grass
Layout:
A thinking player's delight, this superb plan from renowned architect Arthur Hills is not easily defined. The layout offers parkland and open features, a smattering of watery graves, tight and open holes and severe and subdued elevation changes on a delightful piece of property. The par 5s are all reachable, risk-reward gems, while the par 3s average more than 190 yards from the back tees, practically begging for bogeys. You won't find a throwaway hole at Waverly, and the closing stretch from No. 11 to the finish is among the area's finest.

WETLANDS GOLF CLUB (
*** 1/2)
Location:
Aberdeen - Just a mile west of Exit 85 off of I-95
Yardage/par:
6,702/71
Rating/slope:
72.6/133
Architect:
Henry Smedley (1996)
Fees:
$22-$45Phone: 410/273-7488
Driving range:
Grass
Layout:
Boondocks golf at its best. A 5-year-old, man-sized muni, the Wetlands oozes more country charm than an episode of the Waltons. The course takes its personality from an unpretentious simplicity that surrounds the thoughtful design defined by spacious fairways, few trees and, interestingly, no wetlands. The plan routinely mocks convention. Actual clumps of growing hay serve as green-fronting hazards on the second hole. And trees stand directly in the landing areas at Nos. 9 and 11.

WHISKEY CREEK (
**** 1/2)
Location:
Urbana - 4 miles east of I-270 Exit 26 on Route 80
Yardage/par:
7,001/72
Rating/slope:
74.5/137
Architect:
Ernie Els and J. Michael Poellot (2000)
Fees:
$75-$90Phone: 888/883-1174
Driving range:
Grass
Layout:
Two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els dazzles in his architectural debut, offering players a captivating cast of keepers without a single design dud in the mix. This plan has it all - open fairways and forced carries, parkland jaunts and water-lined terrors, subtle slopes and fortress-style green complexes, brutally meaty par-4s and reachable, risk-reward par-5s. The front nine is more aesthetically stunning, while the back nine is more challenging, confronting players with the layout's three most difficult holes (Nos. 12, 15 and 17). Overall, this layout oozes more disarming personality than a room full of gin-loosened Brits, proving that Els has at least one other major talent. Quite simply, the aptly named course is 110-proof fun - smooth and solid with just enough bite.

THE WOODLANDS (
*** 1/2)
Location:
Woodlawn - 3 miles from I-695 Exit 17 (Security Blvd.) on Ridge Road
Yardage/par:
7,014/72
Rating/slope:
74.4/143
Architect:
Lindsay Ervin (1998)
Fees: $42-$60 Phone: 410/887-1349
Driving range:
Mats
Layout:
An odd mix of outstanding and suspect holes from Lindsay Ervin on an exquisite piece of land. At its best on the back nine, the course is a secluded, wooded affair that stresses accuracy over length and rewards the heady player. At its worst on the front (particularly Nos. 6-8), the Woodlands is an arbitrary, foray into realm of target-golf tedium rewarding only the lucky. Like the layout, the manicuring vacillates between muni and masterpiece.

WORTHINGTON MANOR (
****)
Location:
Urbana - 2 miles west of the intersection of I-270 and Route 80 (Exit 26)
Yardage/par:
7,014/72
Rating/slope:
74.0/143
Architect:
Ault, Clark and Ass. (1998)
Fees: $49-$79 Phone: 301/874-5400
Driving range:
Grass/mats
Layout:
Excellent hillside plan from Brian Ault and son Eric tumbles through the foothills of Sugarloaf Mountain. Reminiscent of Stoneleigh (Roundhill, Va.), scenery captivates while players contend with drastic elevation changes and sidehill lies. The greens throughout are canted classics, listing affairs that are nearly unputtable from above the hole. On the whole, the layout is a bit too funky to qualify as outstanding, but several of the area's finest facilities are far less entertaining. A magnetic charmer, not a mind-blowing beast.

WORTHINGTON VALLEY (
***)
Location:
Owings Mills - 7 miles west of Exit 22 off of I-695 on Green Spring Avenue
Yardage/par:
6,340/70
Rating/slope:
70.0/119
Architect:
Jimmy Duke (1954)
Fees:
$19-$36Phone: 410/356-8355
Driving range:
Grass
Layout: Some courses simply tuck their pins; Worthington Valley's stock and trade is the tucked green. This shortish layout defends itself from a red-number rout by routinely forcing players to find not just the fairway, but the proper side of the fairway, in order to earn unobstructed approach shots. The extremely small greens are often stashed in tree-lined alcoves accessible from only one side of the fairway. If you hit 12 greens at this place, Tim Finchem ought to give you an honorary Tour card.


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