- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Location: Berlin

Yardage/par: 7,020 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 73.7/133

Architect: Brian Ault (1991)

Fees: $-$$$$

Phone: 800/435-9223

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 belies 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

Yardage/par: 7,023 yards, par 71

Rating/slope: 75.5/147

Architect: Tom Doak (1998)

Fees: $$$-$$$$

Phone: 410/297-9700

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.



Location: Laytonsville

Yardage/par: 6,885 yards, par 71

Rating/slope: 73.3/133

Architect: Arthur Hills (2002)

Fees: $$-$$$

Phone: 301/670-1966

Range: Grass

Layout: Exceptionally entertaining plan from prolific architect Arthur Hills. This course starts faster than Maurice Greene: Five of the toughest seven holes on the property greet you right out of the gate. Things settle down a bit after the most demanding opening stretch in the region: The remainder of the layout alternates between windswept faux linksland and picturesque traditional parkland styles. Perhaps the most compelling thing about the design is that no two holes feel even remotely similar, holding your interest from opening teeball to final tap.


BRETON BAY *** 1/2

Location: Leonardtown

Yardage/par: 7,001 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 73.0/126

Architect: J. Porter Gibson (1974)

Fees: $$

Phone: 301/475-2300

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. The par-3s are the longest in the region, averaging 214 yards.



Location: Havre de Grace

Yardage/par: 7,375 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 76.4/147

Architect: Pete Dye (1999)

Fees: $$$$$

Phone: 410/939-8887

Range: Grass

Layout: Once again the host course for this year’s LPGA Championship, Bulle Rock is clustered with Congressional, Baltimore CC and Robert Trent Jones among the region’s top facilities, 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, breathtaking 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.



Location: Mount Airy

Yardage/par: 6,709 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 71.3/124

Architect: Ault, Clark and Associates (1996)

Fees: $$-$$$

Phone: 410/552-0320

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.



Location: Frederick

Yardage/par: 6,795 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 72.7/130

Architect: Brian Ault (1991)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 301/624-1295

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 prototypical municipal offering. But unlike Reston’s rolling, sneaky-punitive layout, Clustered Spires is shorter, flatter and undeniably easier.



Location: Pasadena

Yardage/par: 7,055 yards, par 72 (North-West)

Yardage/par: 7,081 yards, par 72 (South-East)

Rating/slope: 74.0/139 (N-W); 73.9/137 (S-E)

Architect: Lindsay Ervin (2003)

Fees: $$-$$$

Phone: 410/255-7764

Range: Grass

Layout: Excellent 36-hole facility crafted by the underrated Ervin (Hog Neck, Queenstown, Old South, Birdwood), who delivers one linksy, open, undulating jaunt (North), two tree-lined, parkland plans (West-South) and one ball-control, resort-style nine (East). Ervin’s favorite nine is the South, and it’s difficult to argue when you see Nos. 3-7 ? definitely the strongest stretch of holes at the 36-hole facility owned by Anne Arundel County. But all four nines are remarkably dud-free. The greens here are exceptional. And given the product, the price is almost surreal, making this one of the region’s best values.



Location: Beltsville

Yardage/par: 6,356 yards, par 70

Rating/slope: 71.5/129

Architect: Ault, Clark and Associates (2003)

Fees: $$-$$$

Phone: 301/595-8901

Range: Grass/mats

Layout: Very difficult test of residential target golf, highlighted by solid, short front nine. Though the folks at Cross Creek attempt to feature a back nine that snakes around an old gravel quarry and makes for far better pictures, the front nine makes for a far more enjoyable experience. The back nine loses touch with the fact that ultra-tight target golf and 440-yard par-4s make poor bedfellows. The par-4 14th, a 457-yarder with a comically choked fairway, is entertainingly memorable. But the line between unrelenting and unfair is often blurred on a back nine that takes driver out of play while repeatedly putting fairway woods into your hands.



Location: Berlin

Yardage/par: 7,003 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 74.3/126

Architect: Michael Hurdzan (1991)

Fees: $$-$$$$

Phone: 800/283-3846

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. Absence of a range is a major negative for most players, resort and otherwise.



Location: Easton

Yardage/par: 6,501 yards, par 71

Rating/slope: 69.2/113

Architect: Robert Rauch (1995)

Fees: $$-$$$

Phone: 800/277-9800

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. Conditions are consistently strong.



Location: Crownsville

Yardage/par: 6,662 yards, par 71

Rating/slope: 71.4/122

Architect: Ed Ault (1970)

Fees: $$

Phone: 410/571-0973

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.



Location: Mitchellville

Yardage/par: 6,587 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 71.7/128

Architect: Dunovan and Associates (1976)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 301/249-2040

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.

www.marylandgolf.com/ enterprise


Location: Potomac

Yardage/par: 6,257 yards, par 71

Rating/slope: 69.0/120

Architect: Ed Ault (1955)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 301/299-5156

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.



Location: Finksburg

Yardage/par: 6,873 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 71.4/132

Architect: Arthur Hills (1995)

Fees: $$

Phone: 410/526-2000

Range: Grass/mats

Layout: You would be hard-pressed to find a more distinctive course than the layout formerly known as River Downs. With elevation changes of more than 100 feet and six holes dominated by gaping ravines, this Arthur Hills brainchild has a stronger personality than Sergio Garcia. 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.



Location: Glenn Dale

Yardage/par: 6,282 yards, par 70

Rating/slope: 70.0/115

Architect: George W. Cobb (1955)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 301/262-1166

Range: Mats

Layout: Cobb, 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, because the putting surfaces here are downright diabolical. Radical mix of long and short, only three holes affected by water. Target golf meets conventional design.



Location: White Hall

Yardage/par: 6,925 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 73.5/139

Architect: Joe Lee (1997)

Fees: $$-$$$

Phone: 410/887-1945

Range: Grass

Layout: Creative blend of holes designed by the man who also gave the golf world Doral’s “Blue Monster,” Bay Hill and La Costa. 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 could evolve into one of the area’s elite staples.



Location: Ashton

Yardage/par: 6,815 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 72.4/129

Architect: Lisa Maki (1999)

Fees: $$-$$$

Phone: 301/476-7999

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. Maki won’t wow you with this offering, but there aren’t many comparable layouts within 20 minutes of downtown, making location a major plus for this facility. General flavor is somewhat cramped municipal (think souped-up Lake Arbor), but the best holes (Nos. 5, 16-18) convey Maki’s appreciation for the British Isles.

www.montgomerycounty golf.com


Location: St. Michaels

Yardage/par: 6,320 yards, par 70

Rating/slope: 69.5/120

Architect: Pete and Roy Dye (1971)

Fees: $$$

Phone: 800/446-9066

Range: Grass

Layout: A little like playing Green Hill in a straitjacket. Extremely tight, semi-private design is extremely well manicured and manages to avoid devolving into pure target golf despite semi-claustrophobic routing. Like Green Hill, private membership and adjacent resort hotel gives Harbourtowne that old, country club feel.


HOG NECK *** 1/2

Location: Easton

Yardage/par: 7,048 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 73.7/131

Architect: Lindsay Ervin (1976)

Fees: $$

Phone: 800/280-1790

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 Terrell Owens. The back nine is a much longer, parkland ride rife with tight, tree-lined fairways that is guaranteed to take back every stroke the front side hands you. If the opening nine borders on pedestrian, the closing nine is both brutally challenging and aesthetically stunning.



Location: Middletown

Yardage/par: 6,610 yards, par 71

Rating/slope: 70.6/134

Architect: Rick Jacobson (2002)

Fees: $$-$$$

Phone: 301/371-9166

Range: Grass

Layout: Just as he did at Augustine and Bull Run in Northern Virginia, exceptional young architect Rick Jacobson shaped this solid piece of property in the shadow of the Catoctin Mountains into 18 holes of unerring elegance. You could play a lifetime in Florida and never find a layout upon which the surrounding housing is so unobtrusive. Golf course housing developments are like officials — the best ones are rarely noticed. What’s impressive is you don’t feel claustrophobic on a single teebox at Hollow Creek. The overall flavor of the design is meandering farmland, somewhat similar to nearby Worthington Manor.



Location: Mitchellville

Yardage/par: 6,406 yards, par 71

Rating/slope: 73.1/127

Architect: Various (1974)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 301/336-7771

Range: Grass/mats

Layout: Tight, residential course that is not kind to 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. No local facility does more for aspiring young players.



Location: Laytonsville

Yardage/par: 6,311 yards, par 70

Rating/slope: 70.1/115

Architect: Robert L. Elder (1973)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 301/948-5288

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.




Location: Bishopville

Yardage/par: 7,031 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 73.3/144

Architect: Arthur Hills (2000)

Fees: $$$$-$$$$$

Phone: 410/352-5767

Range: Grass

Layout: A phenomenal piece of property that almost allows you to forget they’ve taken your wallet hostage. 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. Awesome vistas abound.



Location: Clarksburg

Yardage/par: 6,682 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 72.9/133

Architect: Michael Hurdzan (1994)

Fees: $$

Phone: 800/366-2012

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.


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