It had been a slow day at the office, that day when summer was soon ending and my mind was on a much needed fall golf trip.
I love fall golf, when the courses aren’t crowded, conditions are superb and the weather pretty darn good.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of time off, and the office was badgering me about a big project due by the end of the year. I could surely tack on a couple days to a weekend and head with the guys on a golf vacation, but time was of the essence.
As a Pennsylvania guy, I have to admit trips to Myrtle Beach or Pinehurst were attractive. Shoulder season meant lower rates and deals could be found. But time, well, that was another story. Couldn’t get more time off, and the drive alone would take the better part of two day. Ugh.
What about a getaway to Ocean City, Maryland, where golf courses are plentiful, there’s nightlife and great accommodations? Where some of the game’s top golf course architects have samples of their work? Where value is abundant?
Problem solved. An OC long weekend means great golf at the beach and, if desired, golf on the way down and on getaway day.
The Ocean City drive is relatively easy, and the courses are challenging. It’s a win-win situation. Off season golf means less crowded fairways and excellent conditions. Plus, if you haven’t visited in a bit would be undoubtedly be surprised at the quality of golf courses in the area.
“We are blessed with good weather, wonderful amenities and of course some very challenging and fun golf courses,” explained Steve Cooper, Director of Golf at the Pete/P.B. Dye designed Rum Pointe Seaside Links course. “Fall golf is outstanding, as the course conditions are wonderful and from a golfer’s perspective the rates are cheaper. Your dollar goes farther while the drive from Pennsylvania is shorter!”
Rum Pointe is part of the Ruark Golf Group, which also oversees outstanding sister courses the Links at Lighthouse Sound, Nutter’s Crossing and two courses at Glen Riddle, Man O’War and War Admiral.
Also in the vicinity are the Ocean City Golf Club, Eagles Landing, River Run, the Bay Club and Ocean Pines among others. Just beyond the Delaware State line are outstanding tests such as the beautiful Baywood Greens, the Jack Nicklaus designed Bayside, The Rookery (North and South courses), The Salt Pond and Bear Trap Dune.
Suffice it to say, there is superb golf available within the friendly confines of the greater Ocean City destination. There’s also ample accommodations, stellar dining, fishing and a boardwalk to boot.
“The area has so much to offer and we’re an east drive from just about anywhere in the Northeast,” added Cooper. “We have a great array of course options designed by superb architects and some unbelievable scenery. It’s a great destination.”
Rum Pointe offers great views of Assateague Island across the bay, with many offering views that one just has to say can be breathtaking. Of course, those water views mean difficulty for players who don’t pay enough attention to placement of their shots.
“But I have to say our course can be tough, but it’s fair,” added Cooper. “We have players who visit year after year.”
Bayside is a Jack Nicklaus signature design ranked number one on statewide places to play by several golf magazines, and rightfully so. It winds through magnificent pine trees and features simply stunning holes along the Assawoman Bay coastline. Golf shots can be made difficult by Mother Nature’s best hazards, like salt marshes, ponds and of course the seemingly ever-present winds.
Nearby Baywood Greens is, in a word, unique. The awesome, beautiful flowers alone will awe you! The course is challenging but fair, and has been described by some as an “Augusta of the North”. Its course has been named among Delaware’s best by Golfweek and Golf Digest, and offers excellent practice facilities including chipping and putting tests.
The Woodside nine is carved out of beautiful hardwood trees. The Waterside nine features ponds on nearly every hole. Add in strong bunkering, mounds and hazards and one has to play a thinking, strategic game to score well.
The Gary Player designed River Run Golf Club prides itself as being in pristine condition throughout the year, and Fall is a great time to sample. Player’s designs are always pleasing to the golfer, and River Run is no exception.
The Links at Lighthouse Sound, an Arthur Hills design, is among the top-ranked courses to play in Maryland not only because of its architecturally sound course but spectacular views. Just across the bay from Ocean City, there are 10 holes bordering marshlands. Play runs through stately hardwoods, and the courses gives one a links feel.
The fourth hole (stretching to 430-yards) offers obstacles such as marshland all the way down the right side while strategically placed bunkers guard the left. A true challenge, as is the par-3 fifth which can play anywhere from 100-220-yards and features guarding three sides of the green. Throw in prevailing winds and trouble is everywhere.
It’s interesting to note that the longest cart bridge in the US – some 1,500 feet – can be found heading to the back nine. Challenges await! And to send you home smiling is the reachable par-5 18th hole, a true risk-reward test. Play it right and hit a couple good shots and birdies are there for the taking. Mishit a shot and, well, a dreaded big number awaits.
Eagle’s Landing overlooks Sinepuxet Bay and offers views of Assateague Island National Seashore, but unless you have binoculars you won’t see the wild horses who frolic in the area. What you will see is a series of well thought out challenges that will bedazzle you. The Signature hole is the par-4 18th, with its salt marshes and tight landing areas. A true test.
Ocean Pines features a design by Robert Trent Jones, one that has matured since its opening in 1972. The course is nestled between natural wetlands and scenic woodlands and has five sets of tees as well as tees for the PGA of America’s Family Course program. A par of 72 awaits.
The Ocean City Golf Club offers 36 championship holes on its Newport and Seaside layouts. Located a short drive from the Boardwalk, these courses are filled with challenge.
There isa cornucopia of options when thinking of golf in the greater Ocean City, Md. vicinity, and when you combine this with all the accoutrements of the area as well as its proximity to Pennsylvania it must be considered or a fall golf destination. The courses are outstanding, and Fall is a great time of year to sample.
The weather is superb, the courses memorable and the value of the dollar works for most wallets. It’s a can’t miss destination. Fall golf at its finest.