Poolesville is the western most golf course in Montgomery County, Maryland and is one of nine public courses operated by Montgomery County Golf. This track is nothing more than bare bones basic municipal golf and seems to be the primary course of choice for residents of the town, as the balance of county golfers enjoying the more upscale courses in the center and west of the county. I usually play here once or twice per season and just for a bit of variety, because the overall experience is lacking.
During my round on March 18, I found the course in decent shape through the green with the putting surfaces mowed fairly close but unable to hold a shot from any distance. Approaches were bouncing off these greens like super balls on a concrete parking lot. Even up close, the most crisp of chips and pitches failed to hold or bite, making for a frustrating afternoon. Tee boxes were in good condition but the grounds crew didn’t clean up before or after mowing and there were a litany of broken tees littering all 18 holes.
The front nine is rather ho-hum and the holes are very straight forward. The back has more variety and challenge. General rule of thumb; play your approach shots below the hole because most greens are fairly sloped from back to front and shortsiding yourself to tight pins is a recipe for high scores. Some specifics: #2 is a long par-5 and you should avoid the fairway bunker on the left at about 150 yards out because the carry from it is over two greenside bunkers. A third shot is much more easily played from the right side of the fairway or even the right rough. If you are on the back of the green on #2, the break on putts back to the front is very severe from right to left; much more than it looks. #10 is a medium length par-4. Tee shots on the left part of the fairway bounce hard left into the rough and shots in the left rough bounce down the hill, so favor the right side. Also there is a small greenside bunker protecting the front left that you cannot see from back in the fairway. #11 is a dogleg right par-5 that longer hitters can reach in two. From the white tees, aim your shot straight over the last tree in the right rough. If you hit it 230-250 you’ll be in the left side of the fairway looking at about 190 yards in. If you hit it shorter off the tee, play for the aiming flag in the fairway. #12 is the toughest hole at Poolesville and is a long dogleg left par-4. If the flag is in the back DO NOT GO OVER THE GREEN! The chip or pitch is impossible to get close. Same thing on #15 which is a shorter par-4. If the pin is back, over is dead. The green on #16 is tiny. If the pin is in the front, play below it or leave it just short, as the chip is quite easy. Putting from behind a front pin here is very difficult and for back or side pins, just play for the middle of the green. On the par-3 17th, take 1 1/2 more clubs than you normally would, as the uphill shot is all carry. Finally, on the par-4 18th, if the pin is back center, all putts from the front/middle will break much more right than they look.
Value (2.5 out of 5.0)
Greens fees are $42 to walk and you don’t need a cart to play here. All you get for your money is the golf with the low greens fee in-line with the entire golf experience.
Facilities (1.5 out of 5.0)
Poolesville’s original clubhouse and grill are closed, shuttered, still standing, and unsightly. They’ve been replaced with a very basic structure hosting a small pro-shop and restrooms.
The shop sells a few shoes, shirts, balls, and snacks, but no equipment and there is no grill or sit-down food service. The driving range has mats and rubber tees; some of which are broken. The best part of the facility is a large practice putting green that has several mowed approaches and a bunker with good sand.
Customer Experience (2.0 out of 5.0)
I played as a single and had called the day before for a starting time. The shop attendant reserved a spot for me with a threesome but when I showed up at the course I was mildly annoyed that they had no record of my reservation. Indeed, it appeared that the person I spoke with had rushed me through the phone call. When I explained the situation to the shop attendant, he booked me over the existing single’s name in the same time slot. He indicated he thought they might have used an alias as the name in the original booking. Needless to say but I viewed this as very unprofessional. I presented myself to the starter when I was ready to go and he pared me up with a single on the tee and we had no issues getting off but I sensed the operation was not being professionally run. One of the criticisms of Montgomery County Golf in the past is that they use general managers at some of their clubs in-lieu of head professionals with PGA certification. A check of the MCG website staff listing indicates this is the case at Poolesville, so apparently the practice continues.
I would only recommend Poolesville as a stop gap or if you get shut out from tee times at all the other MCG courses. For the record, I played from the white tees measuring 6,405 yards and carded an 82.