- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2007

MARLBOROUGH ** 1/2

Location: Upper Marlboro

Yardage/par: 6,057 yards, par 71

Rating/slope: 69.0/124

Architect: Algie Pulley (1974)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 301/952-1300

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.

www.marlboroughgolf

club.com

MARLTON ***

Location: Upper Marlboro

Yardage/par: 6,121 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 69.8/123

Architect: Ault, Clark and Associates (1998)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 301/856-7566

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.

www.marltongolf.com

MARYLAND NATIONAL ****

Location: Middletown

Yardage/par: 6,811 yards, par 71

Rating/slope: 73.1/137

Architect: Arthur Hills (2002)

Fees: $$$-$$$$

Phone: 301/371-0000

Range: Grass

Layout: One of the more complex plans in the region, Maryland National starts out as an exquisite tumble through the foothills of the Catoctin Mountains, fostering the wonderfully bizarre notion that one is playing a truly unique brand of mountainside bump-and-run golf. Think nearby Worthington Manor on steroids with firmer, faster greens. Unfortunately, the back nine has difficulty maintaining the front side’s standard, as the course segues into a somewhat claustrophobic jaunt marred by a trio of dubious hole designs (Nos. 10, 16 and 18). Even given those Three Messketeers, Maryland National qualifies as intriguing enough to merit must-play status.

www.marylandnational.com

MOUNT PLEASANT **

Location: Baltimore

Yardage/par: 6,757 yards, par 71

Rating/slope: 71.8/119

Architect: Gus Hook (1933)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 410/254-5100

Range: None

Layout: A fairly basic track from tee to green, Mount Pleasant bares its teeth on the putting surfaces with a nasty collection of large poa annua nightmares. 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.

www.bmgcgolf.com/ baltimore.asp

MOUNTAIN BRANCH **** 1/2

Location: Joppa

Yardage/par: 6,969 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 74.6/139

Architects: Davis Sezna and Jeff Matthai (2000)

Fees: $$$$

Phone: 410/836-9600

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.

www.mountainbranch.com

MUSKET RIDGE ****

Location: Myersville

Yardage/par: 6,902 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 73.0/140

Architects: Joe Lee (2002)

Fees: $$$-$$$$

Phone: 301/293-9930

Range: Grass

Layout: Extremely solid plan from the man who gave the golf world Doral’s “Blue Monster.” Lee works in sod the way Scorcese works in celluloid, framing a hole as well as any designer in the business. You won’t step on a single teebox without knowing exactly what length and shape is needed with the big stick. In the final analysis, this is more of a player’s course than an ego rush. Compared to somewhat nearby Whiskey Creek (Urbana), Musket Ridge is probably five shots tougher for the average player, making it an excellent place to work on your game and forge a genuine traveling handicap.

www.musketridge.com

PATRIOTS GLEN *** 1/2

Location: Elkton

Yardage/par: 6,730 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 72.0/133

Architect: Jeff Matthai (2004)

Fees: $$-$$$

Phone: 800/616-1776

Range: Grass/mats

Layout: A strange exercise in extremes from architect Jeff Matthai, whose best area work was done at nearby Mountain Branch. The good news is almost no hole is forgettable. The best holes (Nos. 5, 7, 10, 14 and 15) are as strong as any in the region. Unfortunately, the worst holes (Nos. 8, 17 and 18) cross the line separating diabolical from dubious. The layout could be slightly better than four-star quality with only a few minor tweaks. If they would soften the approach to No. 8, remove the fairway bunker on No. 17 and give players 10 more yards of landing area (taken from what is now waste area) on No. 18, then the layout’s only three objectionable holes would go from near-demonic to simply demanding.

www.patriotsglen.com

NEEDWOOD ** 1/2

Location: Derwood

Yardage/par: 6,254 yards, par 70

Rating/slope: 69.1/113

Architect: Lindsay Ervin (1969)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 301/948-1075

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.

www.mc-mncppc.org

NORTHWEST PARK ** 1/2

Location: Wheaton

Yardage/par: 7,376 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 74.0/122

Architect: Ed Ault/Russell Roberts (1964)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 301/598-6100

Range: Mats

Layout: More of Ed Ault’s signature design traits. Outrageously long track with wide fairways and a sparse number of bunkers. Monstrous length makes this a driver’s paradise with large, simple, 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.

www.mc-mncppc.org

P.B. DYE GOLF CLUB **** 1/2

Location: Urbana

Yardage/par: 7,036 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 74.6/141

Architect: P.B. Dye (1999)

Fees: $$$-$$$$

Phone: 301/607-4653

Range: Grass

Layout: One of the most opulent layouts in the region (G2 greens) 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 tee shots 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.

www.pbdyegolf.com

POOLESVILLE ** 1/2

Location: Poolesville

Yardage/par: 6,757 yards, par 71

Rating/slope: 72.3/123

Architect: Ed Ault (1963)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 301/428-8143

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.

www.montgomerycounty

golf.com

POTOMAC RIDGE ***

Location: Accokeek

Yardage/par: 6,603 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 69.2/113

Architect: Tom Clark (1995)

Fees: $$-$$$

Phone: 800/791-9078

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 nine 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. Recently opened Tom Walker nine promises to be the best of the bunch.

www.mdgolf.com

QUEENSTOWN HARBOR *** 1/2

Location: Queenstown

Yardage/par: 7,110 yards, par 72 (River)

Yardage/par: 6,537 yards, par 71 (Lakes)

Rating/slope: 74.2/138 (River), 71.0/124 (Lakes)

Architect: Lindsay Ervin (1991)

Fees: $$-$$$

Phone: 800/827-5257

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. It’s definitely got that slightly shaggy, heavily trafficked feel of the mid-range, vacation-location muni. Reston National takes a trip to the Eastern Shore.

www.mdgolf.com

REDGATE ** 1/2

Location: Rockville

Yardage/par: 6,432 yards, par 71

Rating/slope: 71.7/131

Architect: Thurman Donovan (1974)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 240/314-8730

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.

www.redgategolf.com

RENDITIONS ****

Location: Davidsonville

Yardage/par: 6,762 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 72.8/131

Architect: NA (2002)

Fees: $$$-$$$$

Phone: 888/451-4144

Range: Grass/mats

Layout: Most golfers spend a lifetime dreaming of playing Augusta National’s Amen Corner, besting Oakmont’s church pew bunkers or surviving the famed island green at TPC at Sawgrass. At Renditions, you can experience those famous holes and 13 others copied from major-championship venues all in the same day. Thanks to a process that involves arming a complex architectural computer program with aerial photos and topographical maps of the famed layouts, the replica holes at Renditions are often stunningly believable. Of course, the backdrops and maturity levels of those courses can’t be completely mimicked. But between its major hook and the care with which it was executed, Renditions qualifies as a Grand Slam.

www.renditionsgolf.com

RIVER RUN ****

Location: Berlin

Yardage/par: 6,705 yards, par 71

Rating/slope: 70.4/128

Architect: Gary Player (1991)

Fees: $$$$

Phone: 410/641-7200

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. An extremely solid layout by Player and arguably the most entertaining plan on the Eastern Shore.

www.riverrungolf.com

ROCKY GAP **** 1/2

Location: Flintstone

Yardage/par: 7,002 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 74.3/141

Architect: Jack Nicklaus (2000)

Fees: $$$

Phone: 800/724-0828

Range: Grass

Layout: One of the region’s best-kept secrets, Rocky Gap is a perfect location for a weekend golf getaway. The front nine on this Jack Nicklaus gem was literally dynamited out of the side of Evitts Mountain and requires tee-to-green precision. The back features less elevation change and slightly more forgiving fairways but finds its teeth at the finish in a par of wicked par-3s (Nos. 16-17). A truly superb test that doesn’t let up after the forgettable first. The Rocky Gap experience (golf, accommodations and spa) is a tremendous value for those looking for a resort experience at a reasonable expense.

www.rockygapresort.com

ROCKY POINT ***

Location: Essex

Yardage/par: 6,753 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 73.8/132

Architect: Russell Roberts (1971)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 410/887-0215

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. One of the region’s best values.

www.baltimoregolfing.com

RUM POINTE **** 1/2

Location: Berlin

Yardage/par: 7,001 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 72.6/122

Architect: Pete and P.B. Dye (1997)

Fees: $$$-$$$$$

Phone: 888/809-4653

Range: Grass

Layout: Designed by the father and son architectural team of Pete and P.B. Dye, Rum Pointe Seaside Golf Links 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 conjure 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.

www.rumpointe.com

SOUTH RIVER ****

Location: Edgewater

Yardage/par: 6,723 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 71.8/133

Architect: Brian Ault (1996)

Fees: $$-$$$

Phone: 800/767-4837

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.

www.mdgolf.com

SWAN POINT **** 1/2

Location: Issue

Yardage/par: 6,761 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 72.5/126

Architect: Arthur Davis and Bob Cupp (1989)

Fees: $$$

Phone: 301/259-0047

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.

www.swanpointgolf.com

TIMBERS AT TROY ***

Location: Elkridge

Yardage/par: 6,652 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 72.1/134

Architect: Brian Ault and Ken Killian (1996)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 410/313-4653

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.

www.timbersgolf.com

TROTTER’S GLEN **

Location: Olney

Yardage/par: 6,220 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 69.3/117

Architect: Ault, Clark and Associates (1993)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 301/570-4951

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.

www.trottersglengolf.com

TWIN SHIELDS ** 1/2

Location: Dunkirk

Yardage/par: 6,321 yards, par 70

Rating/slope: 68.2/118

Architect: Roy and Ray Shields (1969)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 301/855-8228

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.

www.twinshields.com

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND *** 1/2

Location: College Park

Yardage/par: 6,654 yards, par 71

Rating/slope: 71.7/120

Architect: George W. Cobb (1956)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 301/314-4653

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.

www.golf.umd.edu

WAKEFIELD VALLEY *** 1/2

Location: Westminster

Yardage/par: 3,574 yards, par 36 (Green); 3,464 yards, par 36 (White); 3,359 yards, par 36 (Gold)

Rating/slope: 74.1/138 (Gr-W); 73.6/139 (W-Go), 74.4/139 (Go-Gr)

Architect: Wayne Weller and Russell Roberts (1978)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 410/876-6662

Range: Grass/mats

Layout: Former dairy farm scattered 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.

www.wakefieldvalley.com

WAVERLY WOODS ****

Location: Marriottsville

Yardage/par: 7,024 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 73.1/132

Architect: Arthur Hills (1998)

Fees: $$-$$$$

Phone: 410/313-9182

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.

www.waverlywoods.com

WETLANDS *** 1/2

Location: Aberdeen

Yardage/par: 6,728 yards, par 70

Rating/slope: 72.6/133

Architect: Henry Smedley (1996)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 410/273-7488

Range: Grass

Layout: Boondocks golf at its best. A 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.

www.golfwetlands.com

WHISKEY CREEK **** 1/2

Location: Urbana

Yardage/par: 7,001 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 74.5/137

Architect: Ernie Els and J. Michael Poellot (2000)

Fees: $$$$

Phone: 888/883-1174

Range: Grass

Layout: Three-time major 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 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.

www.whiskeycreekgolf.com

WOODLANDS *** 1/2

Location: Woodlawn

Yardage/par: 7,014 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 74.4/143

Architect: Lindsay Ervin (1998)

Fees: $$-$$$

Phone: 410/887-1349

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.

www.baltimoregolfing.com

WORTHINGTON MANOR ****

Location: Urbana

Yardage/par: 7,014 yards, par 72

Rating/slope: 74.0/143

Architect: Ault, Clark and Associates (1998)

Fees: $$-$$$$

Phone: 301/874-5400

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.

www.worthingtonmanor.com

WORTHINGTON VALLEY ***

Location: Owings Mills

Yardage/par: 6,340 yards, par 70

Rating/slope: 70.0/119

Architect: Jimmy Duke (1954)

Fees: $-$$

Phone: 410/356-8355

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. If you hit 12 greens at this place, Tim Finchem ought to give you an honorary Tour card.

www.marylandgolf.com

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