Rattlewood – Course Review

Tee shot on the par-4 6th at Rattlewood

Summary

Rattlewood Golf Club in Mt. Airy, MD is on the border of Frederick and Montgomery Counties and is one of nine courses managed by Montgomery County Golf.  While not extraordinarily long at 6,501 yards from the championship tees, the course is challenging in certain spots and provides ample opportunities to score in others.  Located in a fairly rural setting, the terrain is rolling but without any significant changes in elevation.  I would not advise on walking because of the considerable distance from green to tee box on several holes.  Every time I have played here I ride and and enjoy the course routing which takes you through a secluded front nine and some nice homes on the back that border but do not intrude.

We played on May 27th and found the course in excellent condition from tee to green, with no bare spots in the rough and the putting surfaces rolling fast and pure.  A little local knowledge goes a long way and can help you avoid some serious pitfalls on what you’d think was a fairly benign track.

Playing notes:

  • #1 is a medium short uphill par-4 and a good drive will leave you with less than 150 yards in.  If the flag is cut in front, you must stay below the hole because putting from behind and downhill is a carnival.  It’s better to miss the green short than to have a 30 footer from behind.  When the hole is cut middle-back, go for it.
  • The approach on the par-4 second hole plays two clubs shorter than the yardage because of the amount of rollout.  If you have a short iron in, you better be able to spin the ball or you will go over.
  • #3 is an uphill par-5.  You cannot see the green on the second shot but you must avoid the fairway bunker protecting the right side.  Hit it and you’re looking at a 100-yard bunker shot so take the left side where you’ve got ample room to miss.
  • The par-4 fifth hole is a shortie but the tee shots bounce hard left.  Aim your driver or 3WD down the right side fairway/rough line to put yourself in the best position.  Over the green here is usually a lost ball so take care with your approach.
  • The par-4 sixth (pictured above) is another shortie.  You want to leave yourself enough room to spin a full wedge from the fairway, especially if the flag is in front because the green is shallow and only holds approaches that are well struck.  I like to lay up with a 3WD, which usually leaves a full sand wedge.
  • On the par-5 10th, if you hit a good drive, you’ll be tempted to go for the green in two.  Don’t.  The myriad of greenside bunkers can leave you with a very tough play so lay back into the fairway for an easy third.
  • The par-3 12th is a long tough hole.  The green rolls slopes from right to left making it even more difficult to get it close.  Missing short in the approach is preferred to right or left and I often take less club than I need if I’m not comfortable hitting a 3WD or 5WD from the tee.  Don’t get greedy here.
  • Hit your driver as hard as you can on the par-4 14th.  It plays short but the green is small and approaching with the shortest iron possible gives you the best chance to score.
  • #15 is a great risk/reward drivable par-4.  At 265 yards from the white tees, if the flag is in front and you’re feeling good, go for it because even a leave in one of the front bunkers is a nice play.  If the flag is in back, avoid the front bunkers and lay back in the fairway.

    Risk – reward tee shot on #15

  • #18 is a hard dogleg left that tempts you with a tee shot that can get pretty close to the green if you fly it over the pine trees guarding the parking lot on the left.  Mishit your shot and you are out of bounds.  I prefer to take a 3WD for position, which usually leaves me under 100 yards for an easy approach.

Value (4.0 out of 5.0)

We played on the after 12 noon weekend rate of $38 which is an excellent value considering your cart is included and the quality of the golf is good.  The greens fee + cart rate before noon is $59, which is still reasonable.  A small basket of range balls runs you $4 and a yardage guide is available in the pro shop for free, which is a nice touch.

Facilities (3.0 out of 5.0)

The facilities are a mixed bag.  The 18,000 square foot clubhouse is nice and provides ample room in the grill to relax and have some post round food and drink and take in a game on their big screen TV.  The pro-shop is of adequate size and is nicely stocked.  The practice putting green is large, has a variety of sloped/flat putts, and is located conveniently between the clubhouse and first tee.

Unfortunately, the driving range leaves much to be desired.  When it was created, the supporting concrete surface was not leveled leaving a ball above your feet shot (for righthanders) at each of the hitting stations.  Mats are the only surface provided.  A small pitching green is located in an odd bowl like depression between the range and clubhouse and the configuration doesn’t leave you with many flat lies to practice from.  The practice area is good enough to get loose but should be avoided by those serious about working on their games.

Customer Experience (4.0 out of 5.0)

Booking tee times through Montgomery County Golf’s website is easy and there were ample tee times available one week in advance.    We arrived at the course at 11:15 a.m. for a 12:36 p.m. tee time and the starter offered to get us out ahead of three consecutive foresomes if we were willing to start at 12:00 noon.  We happily accepted his offer and were appreciative of the attention because our round was completed in under four hours and we didn’t wait on any shots and the group behind us never pushed us.

For the record, I played the white tees at 6,104 yards and shot a 5-over 77.

Overall Rating (3.5 out of 5.0)

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About Brian Penn

Avid sports fan and golf nut. I am a lifelong resident of the Washington D.C. area and love to follow the local teams. Also worked as a golf professional in the Middle Atlantic PGA for several years and am intrigued by the game to no end. I love to play and practice and am dedicated to continual improvement.
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