We played Prospect Bay Country Club in Graysonville, MD on Sunday, November 3, 2013. When you look at the scorecard, the course doesn’t appear to be that challenging, at least from the white tees which measure 6,196 yards and play to a course rating of 69.5/125. We played with temperatures in the low 50s and a sustained 1-2 club wind which made it feel colder, and the little track played difficult. I’m going to file away one key thought from my first round: you must position your tee shots to the correct length for comfortable approaches. Prospect continually tempts you with seven par-4s between 290 and 370 yards. My driver was out and wailing all day but after leaving myself with odd yardages on flip wedges that I haven’t practiced, I failed to get any close and was left with the distinct impression that this course could be had from your favorite distance. Mine is 100 yards, but it’s difficult sitting on the tee of a 290 yard par four knowing you should lay up with a four iron. After botching approaches in the 40-70 yard range, the strategy became clear.
The front nine is out in the open and exposed to whatever winds are blowing in off Prospect Bay but the back is extremely tight off the tee and the holes are well protected. Despite the sqeeze on the inward half, I preferred it as the shots fit my eye well and I enjoyed the challenge without being buffeted by the gusty winds.
Keep these two tips in mind and you’ll be fine. Unless you practice partial wedge shots and are comfortable from all distances, layup to your preferred yardage on the little par fours. On the par five 4th, keep your approach below the hole. If the pin is cut in front, do not leave your ball on the upper part of the mammoth hump in the green – you will three putt.
Value (3.5 out of 5.0)
Prospect Bay doesn’t publish their greens fees because of the semi-private nature of the facility however I found information on the 2012 fees on Golf Digest and based on these figures ($55 weekeday / $65 weekend) that include a cart and complimentary range balls, this is a pretty good value.
Facilities (2.5 out of 5.0)
Prospect had a nice clubhouse and restaurant that was a medium cart drive away from the pro shop, but I wouldn’t say it was convenient. The pro shop is not much more than a small double wide trailer with a few retail items for sale. The driving range was all grass and was in good shape but only had room for about a dozen players. There was a medium sized putting green and a small chipping area at the end of the range.
Out on the course, we found a mixed bag. Playing conditions through the green were excellent, with the bentgrass greens running very smooth and fast, and the fairways in very good shape. Unfortunately, the cart paths were in need of major repairs. Seems like they hadn’t been worked on for quite some time and were fraught with crumbling concrete and holes galore.
Customer Experience (3.0 out of 5.0)
When we arrived at the course, we were met at our car by an attendant who loaded our clubs on a cart and then left it there for us. Not the usual drop at the curb service, but effective just the same. There was no food available in the pro shop and we drove our cart to the clubhouse only to find it just opened for business at 11:00 a.m. So we shoveled down some decent tasting pre made sandwiches and were on our way. I imagine the full service grill would have been open on a nicer weather day and earlier in the golf season. Our round was paced only by our struggles with the wind, and we navigated a mostly empty golf course in 4 1/2 hours.
I’d like to come back and play Prospect Bay armed with my local knowledge, and in some calmer conditions. For the record, I played the white tees at 6,196 yards and shot a 10-over par 82.