We played Hog Neck Golf Course in Easton, MD on Sunday, November 9, 2014. On every trip back, I’m reminded of the time several decades back when the United States was flirting with metric system implementation. Hog Neck is the only course I’ve played that has distance markers in meters and yards. Once, they actually had their scorecards and markers solely in meters, which forced you to do a minor math calculation on every shot, but they updated their scorecards and are now back to U.S. standard units.
The par-72 course is a tale of two halves with the front nine playing out on windswept fairways with hidden water, large mounding, penal bunkers, and nary a tree in sight. Truly a links style experience. The back meanders through tall pine trees and plays several hundred yards longer and is considerably more difficult. The parkland style changeover is a great experience in the middle of November, as the fall colors are in their peak brilliance.
Playing tips from the gold tees: There are no tricks to scoring well but a few tripwires to be avoided. On the dogleg left par-4, 2nd there are two large fairway bunkers guarding the corner. Don’t challenge them. A well struck drive 10-15 yards off the right bunker will leave you with a short iron in from a flat lie. Forget par from either of the bunkers. The par-4, 5th has hidden water that sneaks up fast on the left of the tee shot, so be precise. The par-4, 6th has hidden water on the right and left and again requires precision. The par-5, 9th has a diagonal water hazard crossing the fairway that’s not easy to see. For the landing area of your second shot, you must be able to fly it within 100 yards of the green or you’ll need to lay back to about 150 yards.
The key on the back nine is driving it solid and straight. As you get deeper into the inward half, the holes become longer and more difficult, but there are no hidden hazards with the exception of a small pond guarding the left of the par-4, 15th green. The approach will either be with a long iron or hybrid, and you need to favor the right side. The par-5, 18th is the only quirky hole on the golf course. It measures 523 yards, but when the tees are up, you think you can go for it in two. For some reason, the designer placed a wrap around bunker that guards the entire front approach preventing a roll up option. So lay back to your favorite yardage and try for a regulation par or birdie.
Value (3.5 out of 5.0)
In season weekend rates are $55 to ride. We played on an off-season special rate of $40 which included a cart and hot dog/chips/soda snack at the turn. We were putting on excellent greens but the rest of the course conditions were average at best. Still we felt this was a good deal at the off season rate. A bucket of range balls cost $6.
Facilities (2.5 out of 5.0)
First impressions are important and Hog Neck misses the mark with their driving range facilities. The balls were old and the hitting area was essentially 10 low quality mats supported by no bag stands or structures of any type to hold a bag or clubs. It was barely adequate to get a few swings in and warm up.
The pitching area had ample space to work from and included closely mown areas and two medium size bunkers. The pro shop was on the smallish side but was well stocked and clean. The snack bar area was located conveniently next to the 10th tee and was also of ample size and clean.
Customer Experience (3.0 out of 5.0)
You make a tee time by either emailing the course with your preference or calling. No on-line user-friendly reservation system is available. I had no problem getting the precise time that I requested being it was the second week of November. Upon check in, we were told not to ride carts in the fairways because their bermuda grass had just gone dormant, and some of the playing surfaces were extremely wet. We were permitted to ride the rough all the way around the backsides of some of the greens, which was a little unusual, but didn’t present any major obstacles. The bentgrass putting surfaces were in excellent condition and good greens always lead to a greater feeling of satisfaction. Finally, according to my playing partner, the hot dog at the turn was excellent!
Overall Rating (3.0 out of 5.0)
On this day, we played the gold tees at 6,477 yards with a course rating of 71.5/130 and I shot a 5-over par 77. I have been playing this course on trips to the eastern shore for over 30 years and will be back.