“A lot of players look at the card and think because it’s short that they’re going to play their all-time best round of golf and end up spending a lot of time in the woods,” says head professional Joan Lovelace of the course at Fairway Hills Golf Club. The Ron Pritchard–designed course —which stays neatly within the bounds of 6,158 yards—doesn’t just get its bite from the woodlands about which Lovelace warns. Water comes into play on 12 of the 18 holes, and the second fairway’s wicked dogleg right and stream-guarded bentgrass green costars with collarless shirts in many golfers’ nightmares. The links wind down with a hope-inspiring 18th hole, where golfers with the right mix of skill and luck can make a birdie.
Adjacent to the course’s bermuda-grass fairways, the club’s practice facilities invite players to demolish buckets of balls at a turf range, cleat across a chipping area, or practice whipping a putter out of its holster and twirling it around their thumb. Lessons with the club’s PGA professionals are also available to help hone games.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par-70 course Length of 6,158 yards Course rating of 125 Slope rating of 70.1 See the scorecard See hole details Five tee options, including one for The First Tee program
Golf requires power, precision, and soft touch, and Laurel Golf Center helps players hone all three at one location. Covered hitting stalls facilitate year-round practice at the driving range, where golfers can take aim at six target greens or try to nestle their golf ball inside a passing cloud. Short game practice areas let golfers hone chips, pitches, and shots with awkward lies from a practice bunker. To perfect their feel around the greens, guests can roll through the 18-hole miniature golf course.
A golf course is where players go to test their skills, but Arundel Golf Park is where those skills are formed. At Arundel's outdoor facility, instructors teach private and group classes and hold supervised practice sessions, in which they periodically check in with students as they drive ball after ball at a driving range protected from the wind and distracting cries of caddies. During "fitting days," golfers bring in their current clubs to have one of Arundel's pros determine their ideal length, loft, and other specs.
While golf remains the focus at Arundel Golf Park, the facilities have a couple of other ways visitors can work on their swings. An 18-hole mini-golf course shrinks the game down to a fun challenge of angles and finesse, and batting cages let players set aside the elegant, nuanced game of golf to simply enjoy bashing round things with blunt objects.
Arundel Golf Park gives players space to hone their swings all year long with an covered and heated driving range. Former PGA Class A member Norm Vacovsky draws on 34 years of coaching experience to help players get over learning plateaus during lessons held at the center.
The imposing tree lines on either side of the par 5 first hole at Cross Creek Golf Club frame the ideal shot right off the teebox, like two sides of a leafy goalpost. The crossbar, then, is the medium-size pond just past the tees?the first of 12 encounters with water players will have over the duration of the round. As with so many situations found throughout the course, the shot demands steely nerves, much like asking for chocolate syrup on a hotdog. Even so, the opening gambit can bode well for the rest of the round?there are only two par 5s on the course, making a solid opening drive a player's best shot at securing a solid score.
Course at a Glance:
* 18-hole, par 70 course
* Total length of 6,281 yards from the back tees
* Four sets of tees per hole
* View the scorecard
A frequent qualifying course for the U.S. Amateur, Piney Branch Golf Club's 18-hole course has a reputation as one of Maryland's best designs. The course arcs fairways over rolling hills and through clusters of trees, all leading to challenging greens. But while its 6,781-yard length from the tips may bring scratch golfers to their knees, the course offers five tee options to make the test passable for players of all abilities. Before teeing off, players can warm up with unlimited range balls at the driving range, practice their touch on the short game range, or bury underperforming drivers in a practice bunker. Those who aren't concerned with their handicap can simply enjoy the grounds' beautiful gardens and impeccable landscaping, best enjoyed from the massive windows of the hilltop clubhouse.
Course at a Glance:
* 18-hole, par 72 course
* Length of 6,781 yards from the tips
* Course rating of 73.9 from the tips
* Slope rating of 130 from the tips
* Five tee options