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 (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.