Category Archives: MD – DE Eastern shore

Bear Trap Dunes – Course Review

Summary

The Den at Bear Trap Dunes
The Den at Bear Trap Dunes

Our group played Bear Trap Dunes in Ocean View, DE on Tuesday, November 11, 2014.  This 27-hole facility is three miles west of Bethany Beach, and I’ve practiced here on many occasions while vacationing at the beach, but have never played the course until now.  The operation is first class and the practice facilities top notch.  Of the three nines, we played Kodiak and Black Bear and will reserve judgement on Grizzly for another time.  The course is operated by Troon Golf and is semi-private.  Rick Jacobsen (architect) used to be on the Jack Nicklaus course design team, and the course has that familiar Nicklaus look and feel off the tee.  Many of the holes are framed by groups of three and four bunker configurations located at different distances on opposite sides of the fairway.

I found the layout pleasing to my eye and relaxed into a good ball striking day off the tee but my luck ended there.  To score well, you need local knowledge off the tee and accurate iron play; I had neither.  Missing in the deep and expansive greenside bunkers left awfully tough up-and-down opportunities, and once you hit the greens, we found them large, fast, fairly flat, and fair.  Twice on the Kodiak nine, I hit perfect drives into fairway bunkers that I had no idea I could reach.  If you are playing #6 and #9 with a tailwind, 3WD is plenty of club off the tee.  Otherwise, I came away from a bad iron day thinking you could score better and put less pressure on yourself playing for the middle of most greens instead of flag hunting to precise yardages, as I attempted.  A few of the holes like #5 on Kodiak are beautiful and play into a nice U-shaped backdrop of woods, but most of the holes were nondescript despite the very good course conditioning.  One of my playing partners remarked that the Bear Trap experience reminded him of the time we Played Pinehurst #2.  Very good golf course, but very few of the holes stood out; I have to agree.

Par-4, 5th hole on Kodiak.  Bear Trap Dunes
Par-4, 5th hole on Kodiak. Bear Trap Dunes

Value (3.0 out of 5.0)

We played on an off season rate of $39 which included cart and range balls.  For the course conditioning, service, and quality of facilities, this was an awesome value.  I’d rate this as a $70-80 golf experience so why the average rating?  They advertise their in-season rates at $100 – 135 for a weekend round which is exorbitant.  If I’m paying that kind of money, I want memorable holes and a tremendous experience.  Bear Trap was a very nice afternoon of golf on very good conditions with a quasi-country club feel, but not $135 worth.

Facilities (4.0 out of 5.0)

The clubhouse hosts the pro shop, locker rooms, full service grill (The Den), offices, and banquet space.  It is a beautiful building.  Conveniently located across the parking lot is the top notch practice facility.  The range is divided into halves for members and guests and boasts excellent grass hitting surfaces (mats were out for the late fall, but they were in excellent condition, as were the range balls).  They have a large and well maintained short game area and separate putting green with green speeds that were identical to the course.  As mentioned earlier, I practice at Bear Trap regularly and could spend all day using the facilities.  The rating would go even higher except most holes were in very close proximity to the local housing community.  Nice homes but I prefer a little more solitude.

Cary playing his 2nd shot on the par-5, 6th on Black Bear
Cary playing his 2nd shot on the par-5, 6th on Black Bear

Customer Experience (3.5 out of 5.0)

Booking a tee time was easy and was done over the phone.  Being November, they had anything I wanted.  We did not utilize the bag drop and found out later that you couldn’t ride your clubs to your car upon completion of the round.  Some courses are funny in that regard and are weary of liability issues with golfers driving in the parking lots.  I found it more of a minor hindrance.  The pro in the shop was very friendly and attentive and we had a very nice day on an uncrowded and well conditioned golf course.   For this round I shot a 86 from the blue tees that measured 6,377 yards and played to a course rating of 69.3/127.  Bear Trap Dunes is a nice golf course and the off-season rates made it a great play.  If you’re down during the summer, I wouldn’t recommend playing here at full price, but go seek a lower cost high quality alternative like Eagles Landing in Ocean City, MD.

Overall Rating (3.5 out of 5.0)

Difficult par-3, 7th on Black Bear
Difficult par-3, 7th on Black Bear

Hog Neck – Course Review

Summary

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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.

Par 3, 7th at Hog Neck
Par 3, 7th at Hog Neck

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.

Teeing off on the par-3, 17th at Hog Neck
Teeing off on the par-3, 17th at Hog Neck

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.

Approach to the par-5, 18th
Approach to the par-5, 18th

 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.

Low budget bag stand on the range.
Low budget bag stand on the range.

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.

Prospect Bay Country Club – Course Review

Summary

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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.

Par-4 8th at Prospect Bay
Par-4 8th at Prospect Bay

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.

The beautiful 10th hole at Prospect Bay
The beautiful 10th hole at Prospect Bay

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.

Overall Rating (3.0 out of 5.0)

The range at Prospect Bay
The range at Prospect Bay

Baywood Greens – Course Review

Summary

Clubhouse at Baywood Greens
Clubhouse at Baywood Greens

We played Baywood Greens in Long Neck, DE on Saturday, November 2, 2013.  What strikes you about this course is the aesthetics and attention to detail with regard to the landscaping.  Baywood is known for its floral arrangements and during the growing season, they purport to have over 200,000 of the most beautiful flowers, plants, shrubs, and trees adorning the course.  With everything dormant in early November, you could see where the pots and boxes were, but could only imagine playing in a floral paradise.  Around the clubhouse and pro shop, the various appointments and touches were very nice and exuded class.  What I found a little awkward were several gazebos positioned at various points on the golf course.  In these structures were couches and big comfy chairs and I was left to wonder if a group is supposed to pause in route between holes and rest in one of these structures.  Wouldn’t that slow play down?

The course is a distinctly different play from front nine to back.  The outward half has more of a parkland feel with tighter tee shots framed by tall trees and on the back, lots of water comes into play.  I found the back more scenic with many of the shots fitting my eye nicely.  I was able to relax and strike the ball well off the tee and the course is not long so a good ball striking day can lead to ample short iron approaches and opportunities to score.

Conditions were very good but not perfect.  The bentgrass greens were running smooth and medium-fast but a couple of the tee boxes were a bit chewed up with divots (see the photo of me on the 18th tee) and probably could stand to be rotated more frequently.  Otherwise the course was a delight to play and I only suspect heavy play throughout the summer and fall took it’s toll on the tee boxes.

18th tee at Baywood Greens
18th tee at Baywood Greens

Playing Tips (from the white tees):

  • We were fortunate enough to be paired with a very friendly club professional (Tony) and he had lots of good information on where to position your tee shots which was great.  Without that local knowledge, us first timers would have had a tough day. Thanks Tony!
  • It took me nine holes to figure out that pin-hunting was ill advised and some of these greens have a lot of slope.  I started aiming for the fat parts of the greens and kept it below the hole on the back nine which helped take pressure off my putting.
  • #1 is a short par 4 but you don’t want any part of the fairway bunkers framing the hole.  Take a 3WD off the tee and you’ll avoid the trouble and have a short to medium iron in.
  • The par-5 5th hole is very tight in the landing area for a driver.  I didn’t know this until I watched Tony tee off with a 3WD or utility club.  It’s a three shot par-5 so just get it in play.
  • The par-4  fourteenth hole has an island fairway that plays straight out and a chicken fairway that veers right and offers a much longer shot in.  Again, I took 3WD and nailed it deep into the island and left myself with a 110 yard shot in.  Driver could carry through the landing area so leave it in the bag.
  • #16 is a risk-reward short par 5 that plays 452 yards from the white tees.  If you bust your tee shot and want to go for it, you better make it on the fly because water sneaks in from the left and protects the green almost all the way across the fairway.  If you’re going to lay up, lay it back on the face of the hill at about 100-125 yards out.  You cannot see the water on the second shot.
  • On the par-4 18th, aim farther left then you think.  The left bunker or the cart bridge in the distance is an excellent target.  Otherwise, water creeps up fast on the right!

Value (3.0 out of 5.0)

High season prime time greens fees will set you back $129 if you want to golf on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.  It drops to $109 in mid summer and only eases up after October 27th when the weekend rate drops to $59.  If you want to play in the summer, best to take advantage of the after 1:00 p.m. rate of $79.  Your greens fee includes complimentary range balls, use of the practice facilities, and GPS on carts.

Facilities (4.0 out of 5.0)

Baywood Greens has a large pro shop and an extraordinary sized clubhouse/restaurant where parties and weddings are a regular occurrence.  The white pillared driving range was a beautiful building that had many indoor – outdoor stalls.  We were hitting from mats but there were ample stations to hit from grass, when the tee was open.  There were two putting greens of adequate size and a smallish pitching green with adjacent practice bunker.  While we warmed up, I observed that only two players could comfortably use the pitching green without getting in each other’s way.

On the course, #1 and 2 were playing cart path only, which precipitated a slower than desired start and I wasn’t sure why these holes were roped off.  Elsewhere, there were very few areas to enter the fairways off the cart paths which felt a little awkward but wasn’t too much of an inconvenience.  The “no cart” signs extended way back from most greens, so if you were within 75-125 yards, you needed to grab a stack of clubs and head out on foot.

Finally, we observed that nine holes were being constructed across the street.  The goal is to make Baywood a 27 hole facility, but apparently the construction has been going way longer than expected, and while the appearance of readiness from the road looks close, there is no imminent date to open these extra holes.

The range at Baywood Greens
The range at Baywood Greens

 

Customer Experience (4.0 out of 5.0)

When we arrived at Baywood Greens, there was a small traffic jam at the bag drop and the attendant didn’t proactively take action to move things along but we eventually dropped after a five minute wait.  When we completed play, the gentleman taking in carts was friendly and cleaned our clubs promptly.  As I mentioned earlier, we played with Tony the pro and he was very hospitable and made our afternoon enjoyable.

The process of teeing off is a little different at Baywood Greens, with the starter coming to get you at the driving range, and you following him in his cart to the first tee.  I suppose that controls traffic and keeps groups from backing up at the tee.  Golf carts are equipped with coolers and fresh ice, which was nice.  The GPS measures your position to the center of the green, but not the flag stick.  The GPS did have helpful playing hints on every hole, but I needed my laser rangefinder to get exact distance to the flags.

I would like to come back and play this course in the spring or summer and fully enjoy the landscaping in all it’s glory.  It was an enjoyable day and having Tony as a playing partner made it extra special.  For the record, we played from the white tees that measured 6,088 yards and I shot a 6-over par 78.

Overall Rating (3.75 out of 5.0)

View of the 12th green at Baywood Greens from the 13th tee.
View of the 12th green at Baywood Greens from the 13th tee.

Heritage Shores – Course Review

Summary

Clubhouse at Heritage Shores

I played Heritage Shores on Sunday, November 4, 2012.  The course is part of a new +55 residential community in Bridgeville, DE and is conveniently located on Rt 13, one mile south of the intersection of Rt 404 (main thoroughfare to the Delaware beaches.)  This Arthur Hills design presents a classic open style links play with significant green-side mounding and very little protection from the wind.  The day I visited it was windy and while the layout isn’t particularly difficult, the wind made scoring a challenge.  Most of the par four and five holes are fairly open but are bordered by a considerable amount of water, usually running parallel or diagonal to the tee shot.  The view from the tees fit my eye well and I didn’t find it too difficult to avoid the hazards but you get the feeling on several holes of a repeat look.

The front nine is the more pleasurable of the two as the course winds its way out into open areas and you feel more secluded.  The back is crammed into “house world” with the new single-family homes all looking the same.  I don’t mind playing courses tightly woven into housing communities, such as Oyster Bay in Sunset Beach, NC, where the properties are very different and present some variety, but that’s not the case at Heritage Shores.

Conditions were good through the green with the putting surfaces rolling medium fast and holding iron shots reasonably well, despite the heavy wind.  The bunkers were in terrible shape, with nearly every one loaded with casual water and leaves.  In all fairness, Hurricane Sandy had deposited about 10 inches of rain a few days earlier but the rest of the course had drained well so I was unsure if the greens crew had ignored the bunkers or these were just poorly designed.  I only had the bunkers at Queenstown Harbor, which I had played two days earlier, to compare to and they were in pristine condition.

18th green at Heritage Shores

Value (2.5 out of 5.0)

Greens fees were $59 which included a cart.  I believe the in-season rates are the same which would make it a better play in the summer, but I wouldn’t go any higher to visit a course of this caliber.  A small bag of range balls was $6 and they should really be included in the greens fee to improve value.

Facilities (2.5 out of 5.0)

Heritage shores has a giant clubhouse that serves the entire community with two restaurants and houses the cart barn along with other non-golf related offices.  The smallish pro shop is combined in an adjacent building with a fitness and aquatic center.  A small snack bar sits next to the golf shop entrance but was closed when I played.  A small number of soft drinks were available for sale in the pro shop but I was surprised not to find the snack bar open for weekend play.

The driving range is a short cart ride across the street and boasts about 15 hitting stations.  We were hitting from mats and there appeared to be an ample grass area that was not open.  One thing missing was some type of bag rack or device to hold clubs and towels next to the hitting stations.  There was nothing, as you can see in the picture below, which required you to lay your clubs on the ground.

There were two very small putting greens adjacent to the golf shop entrance and I saw a sign indicating the short game practice area was closed.  I never observed the area and will reserve comment.

Customer Experience (3.5 out of 5.0)

I booked a tee time over the phone and my impression of the golf shop staff was courteous and professional.  The starter drove out to the range to notify me when it was my turn to play which I appreciated.

The GPS units on the golf carts were touch screen, but only showed distance to the center of the greens, not the flag stick.  You had to drag the flagstick icon to a particular part of the screen where you thought the flag was and the GPS would recalculate the yardage.  I found this kludge and was glad I brought my Bushnell rangefinder to snap accurate yardages to the pins.  I could also do without the constant stream of adds on the GPS which required you to touch the screen to “return to golf”.

Overall I viewed Heritage Shores as a decent retirement community golf course but not a facility dedicated to the serious player.  For the record, I played the green tees at 6,477 yards and carded a 12-over par 84.

GPS unit

Overall Rating (2.75 out of 5.0)

Driving Range at Heritage Shores

Queenstown Harbor (River) – Course Review

Summary

Queenstown Harbor Clubhouse

On Friday, November 2nd, I made my way down to Queenstown Harbor to play the River course just a few days removed from Hurricane Sandy.  Queenstown is a 36-hole facility with The River being the more upscale play, and The Lakes, also a nice course, but not presenting as scenic an experience or as challenging.  The River has a lot of water and combines tree-lined protected holes with some open and exposed holes that are subjected to the winds off the nearby Chester River and Chesapeake Bay.  On this day, the hurricane was just exiting the area and the wind was sustained at 15-20 mph with higher gusts, and the temperature was in the high 40s.  Playing conditions were  super difficult from the blue tees at 6,568 yards.  I was amazed at the exquisite course conditioning considering nearly a foot of rain had fallen only days before.  The course drained extremely well and the bunkers were in immaculate shape (all groomed and not a sign of any pooling.)  Fairways, tees and greens were smooth and filled in nicely.  We were playing cart path only but the course was dry for all practical purposes.  A tip of the cap goes to the greens crew for the amazing job.

#16 green, The River Course at Queenstown Harbor

Playing tips:

  • All par-fives are three shot holes and placement is the key off the tee.  Don’t hesitate to take a three wood and keep it in play.
  • Most of the par-fours are medium length and play under 400 yards, however there are several sharp doglegs that tempt you to play over water to get a shorter look.  Don’t succumb to the temptation as the risk is not worth the reward.  The iron play in from the safe areas on #4 and #12 are easy enough to play to without risking a rinse.
  • #18 is a par-five and when the pin is cut front and left, be careful of the hidden water hazard that creeps up close to the green.  You can’t see it from the fairway.

Value (3.0 out of 5.0)

I played on the off-season rate of $75.  In season is in the $90-$100 range which is not inexpensive for this play, even though the price includes your cart and unlimited range balls.  The Lakes can be played for $49 off-season and the greens fee is commensurate with the relative caliber of the layout.

Facilities (4.0 out of 5.0)

Queenstown has a modest size clubhouse that houses a well stocked and attractive pro shop, along with a good sized snack bar.  Behind the building is a pavilion used for outings which is a nice setting and can host upwards of 200 people.  Earlier this year I played a very well attended charity event here that was organized nicely.

The range at Queenstown

There is a 25 station driving range that is outfitted with mats that are designed to hold a wooden tee.  Unfortunately they don’t do the job and just teeing a ball up to hit driver was an issue, which was about the only source of frustration I had during the day.  There is a very large beautiful practice putting green adjacent to the first green and a smaller one by the driving range.  Next to the primary green is a medium sized pitching green that includes a bunker and a closely mown area, and presents a variety of lies to practice from.  Overall, the practice facilities are spacious and ample enough to support two courses.

Customer Experience (4.0 out of 5.0)

The staff at Queenstown from the professional manning the shop, to the snack bar attendant to the starter/bag drop guy were all very friendly and accommodating.  Reserving a tee time was easily done through their website which is intuitive and easy to use.  On this date, they had any time I wanted and the starter gave me the option to play as a single or pair up with a choice of twosomes.  Playing Queenstown in the offseason or in season during the charity outing was a delight.  Visitors to Maryland’s eastern shore should not miss this one.

Overall Rating (3.75 out of 5.0)

View of the first hole from the practice putting green.

Eagle’s Landing – Course Review

Summary

Eagles Landing view of #18 fairway from #10 tee

It’s all about the course at Eagle’s Landing in Ocean City, MD.  Located adjacent to the Ocean City airport, Eagles Landing is technically a muni because it’s owned and operated by the city, but the impression of “muni” ends when you step on the first tee.  This is one of my favorite plays on the Delmarva and my stop here on October 28 again lived up to lofty expectations.  Tees and fairways were in excellent condition and the Bentgrass greens were running surprisingly fast.  Bunkers were well maintained and had good consistent sand.

Tee shot on the par-3 17th hole at Eagle’s Landing

First time players will not be wowed by the facilities but when play begins, everything changes as you enjoy excellent hole routing and a wide variety of shot choices around the greens.  Along with the superb conditions there are several spectacular views of holes running along the salt marshes of the Sinepuxent Bay.

Eagle’s Landing is buffeted by fresh coastal breezes and the later your tee time the more certain you are to play in the wind.  Managing the wind and knowing how to safely negotiate some placement holes are key.

View of Eagle’s Landing #16 from the Cloud Dancer bi-plane

Playing tips:  The par-3 fifth has a prevalent two-tier green.  If the flag is in the front or middle, play from below the hole.  A chip or putt from the upper tier is dead.  The par-5 seventh hole is a beauty and doglegs 90 degrees to the left.  From the gold tees, play your tee shot at 200-210 yards.  Take the maximum yardage to the end of the fairway for your second shot as there is ample room past the end of the fairway.  You do not want to be short because the third shot is to a green out in the marsh and you must get enough distance to clear the tall pines guarding the left side of the approach.  #10 is a short par four and the woods creep up fast on the left.  Hit your 3WD or driver but favor the center or right rough for an easy approach.  On the par four 15th, lay your tee shot back with a 3WD or hybrid to stay out of trouble.  Water is hidden on the left and sneaks up fast and there is no advantage to hitting driver.  #16 is a deceiving short par-4.  When the pin is cut on the left (front or middle), do not attack it as most shots will roll through and over the green.  Even putting at this crowned pin position is tough so take the middle of the green.  The 18th hole is termed “The Beast of the East” and is an awkward play because it takes the driver out of your hands as the fairway runs out at about 210 yards and is guarded by marsh on the left and right.  The second shot is difficult the farther you lay back so get as close to the end of the fairway as possible.  If you land in the marsh, you want to minimize the distance for your third.  Good luck!

Value (4.0 out of 5.0)

Greens fees are quite reasonable for a course of this caliber.  High season weekend rates top out at $79 and we played for $55 on the weekend fall rate.  Being city owned and operated allows the course to keep fees low and provides excellent value.

Facilities (2.5 out of 5.0)

The major investment at Eagle’s Landing has been placed in the 18 holes of golf.  A medium-size clubhouse hosts a no-frills snack bar and pro shop which serve little more than their functions of getting golfers out on the course and providing basic refreshment.  There are no locker rooms and rest rooms are a bit dated and could use some modernizing.  Players looking to warm up need to use the short game area because there is no driving range.  The pitching green is ample in size and provides a variety of lies as well as two practice bunkers that are kept in excellent condition.  I’ve warmed up adequately by hitting partial sand wedge shots but if you need to hit balls, stop at the Assateague Greens Golf Center on the left side of the road prior to entering the course.   The large practice putting green is located close to the first tee and and conditions usually mirror those on the course.

Customer Experience (3.5 out of 5.0)

This is a popular golf course because of the quality/conditions and the reasonable greens fees so get your tee times early.  I had no problem booking an advance time for my late-October round, but in season, the tee sheet fills up fast.  You can call or book your times on-line.  One minor inconvenience is how you get a prerecorded phone message to call back when the shop staff doesn’t pick up, and then you are disconnected.  I can wait and listen to some elevator music.

At the course, the bag drop staff and starters are friendly and accommodating.  We were visited several times on the course by the beverage cart which was offering free coffee refills on a cold blustery day, which was much appreciated.  The take offs and landings of small aircraft at the nearby airport were a pleasant diversion and didn’t prove to be irritating or distracting.  GPS has been installed recently on all golf carts which is very helpful and we found play moved at an excellent pace with our round taking slightly over four hours to play.

On this day, I played the gold tees at 6,306 yards and carded a six-over 78.

Overall Rating (3.5 out of 5.0)

Jim on the second tee at Eagles Landing
Jim on the second tee at Eagles Landing


Glen Riddle Man ‘O War – Course Review

Summary

#10 tee Man ‘O War

We played Man ‘O War on Thursday, October 27.  The course is one of two at Glen Riddle Golf Club (War Admiral is the other) managed by the Ruark Golf Properties Company and is part of an upscale daily fee group available in the Ocean City, MD area.  Man ‘O War is an all Bermuda grass course which is a little unusual for the mid-Atlantic area, but we found conditions excellent with tees and fairways lush, and greens smooth and rolling at medium speed.  The lone exception was the bunkers.  The sand was dark, wet, and extremely hard packed but was consistent across the course.

The first 13 holes are pure links style golf with challenges in the form of small and large pot bunker configurations as well as significant mounding and rounded elevated greens.  A missed green usually required an uphill pitch or chip from a closely mowed collection area or a difficult shot from the rough with your ball sitting below the surface.  Be prepared to hit some sand shot like explosions from green-side grassy lies.

#14 tee Man ‘O War

#14 (pictured above) – #18 wind through the woods and provided an interesting change of pace with more of a parkland-like feel.  One small idiosyncrasy: there were large plantings of ornamental grass placed directly in line of site of several tee shots.  While the grasses and tee box configurations were aesthetically pleasing, we found the placement a bit odd.    Otherwise, no two holes were alike and the course was a delight to play.

Course management tips:  Most par-fours aren’t particularly long but don’t require a layup with a 3WD or hybrid because of trouble, so go ahead and hit driver.  The lone exception is #17, as the risk/reward is not worth the extra distance.  I hit 3-iron/gap wedge for a good birdie opportunity.  Also, if the pin is back on #3, do not attack it because shots landing hole high, will roll off the back and into the water hazard.

Value (3.0 out of 5.0)

In season weekend greens fees are expensive.  Morning rates range from $89 to $129 depending on the date.  We played after 12 noon on a mid-week fall rate of $55 which was a very good value for the quality of the course and facilities.  The sister course, War Admiral, which is considered the premium play at Glen Riddle, is about $20 higher across the board.  I’d recommend the off season value play because the in-season cost is prohibitive.

Facilities (4.0 out of 5.0)

Man ‘O War has an enormous clubhouse.  The original Riddle stables, that were used to train War Admiral and Man ‘O War, were converted into the pro shop and the adjoining Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.  Everything from the locker rooms to the rest rooms to the pro shop to the restaurant is very well appointed and exudes class.

Players are treated to an all grass driving range separated in halves for the general public and members.  Conditions were excellent on the range as well as the adjacent putting green, which had ample room to practice long flat putts and breakers.  There was a chipping green with practice bunkers available but oddly enough it’s located at the opposite end of the driving range and is not obvious for those warming up for play.  In fact, we were mildly disappointed at our inability to chip during warm-up as we were simply unaware that the pitching area existed until we saw it after holing out on the 8th green.  A closer look showed it to be in excellent condition as well.  If you want to practice short game before a round, get there early.  Finally, the building that houses the range, has a snack bar and restrooms and is conveniently located before the first and tenth tees.

Customer Experience (4.5 out of 5.0)

Calling for a tee time was a breeze and they had exactly the time and date I requested.  The pro shop staff was courteous and professional and the starter paid specific attention to our needs with regard to required warm-up time and desired time to tee off, given the fact that the course was empty.  On the course, the carts were equipped with full GPS capability and a nice “Pro Tips” feature that provided course management recommendations on each hole.  All the par four and fives had aiming poles in the fairway at 150 yards out, which we found helpful.  The course does require some local knowledge to score and we found that if you can hit it reasonably straight off the tee, there were no tricks or surprises.  Several sets of tees offer golfers of every ability a very enjoyable experience.  With the off-season after 12 noon tee time, this course is an excellent play for visitors to Ocean City.

For the record, I played the blue tees at 6,556 yards and carded an 81.

Overall Rating (4.0 out of 5.0)