A weathered starting gate—its rusted doors still hanging from their hinges, a painted 10 still visible over the leftmost stall—seems to sink into the faint remains of an old horse track, a relic of the grounds’ past life as a venue for racing and training thoroughbreds. A portion of the old track cuts across three holes at Glen Riddle Golf Club’s 7,163-yard Man O’ War course, the longer and more difficult of the club’s twin 18-hole layouts. In truth, the legendary thoroughbred from which the course takes its name once lived on the historic Glen Riddle grounds, but the layout is more than just a locus of equestrian trivia: with massive greens, double fairways, and deep pot bunkers swept by the gales from the eastern shore, its mounded terrain pays homage to the old, links-style layouts that populate the shores of Scotland where horses first climbed out of the sea.
Of course, Man O’ War is named for the legendary thoroughbred who sired a legendary racer of his own—the 1937 Triple Crown champion War Admiral, which also serves as the namesake for Glen Riddle’s second course. Though slightly shorter than its grassy patriarch at 6,892 yards, the foal winds its fairways through forests and tidal marshland to form a much less forgiving layout.
Man O’ War Course at a Glance:
War Admiral Course at a Glance:
Club-swingers at Heritage Shores Club launch aerodynamic orbs over 7,000 yards of greens and fairways, aiming to shoot a par 72. The Arthur Hills–designed course is built to be both challenging and fun, with water flanking many shots, bunkers creeping just out of view, and clowns waiting in the bushes to juggle lost balls. Five varying tees dot the start of each hole, making rounds customizable according to skill level and preference, and building in variation for future visits. Pairs and foursomes follow their mini globes in carts, gliding over the course's undulating fairways and celebrating good shots by steering donuts on well-manicured greens.
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Pasadena Golf Center lets visitors create the satisfying thwack of a club hitting a golf ball in one of two locations. They can make out the sound on the 18-hole mini-golf course—where ears will also pick up the sound of trickling waterfalls and the gurgling of landscaped streams and ponds—or at the driving range. Golfers can manipulate a variety of clubs there since targets are set up at different lengths, and 20 of the range’s 34 hitting stations are covered to provide shade during warm months and heat during cold ones. In addition, a full setup of lights let them swing away into the evening or when Apollo's chariot of fire is in the shop. To assist in swing mechanics and proper alignment, the center organizes lessons led by Golf Academy of America–certified instructor, Brett Francisco.
Pasadena Golf Center is also equipped with a nine-station batting cage that challenges visitors with baseball pitches of varying speeds as well as slow- and fast-pitch softball. A 1,600-square-foot patio nearby can facilitate birthday parties or other special events.
With a total of 36 holes that wind through the wetlands at the northernmost tip of the Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Bay Golf Club maintains links-style courses in Rising Sun and North East, Maryland. Patrons have voted their approval of the golf club, which is a host of the 2012 Special Olympics, in Maryland Life's Free State's Finest 2011 list.
As players guide their golf balls through tree-lined fairways at the North East Course, they encounter blooming azaleas ringing the greens in the spring and offering adorable opportunities to express affection for a caddie. Budding golf enthusiasm continues to flower at the Rising Sun Course, where seven ponds poke their way into the line of play and remain a constant inconvenience. Rising Sun’s signature fourth hole, also known as Lookout, offers a prime example, with a vicious pond on the right swallowing up sliced tee shots and unsuspecting bunnies that graze too close to it.
North East Course at a Glance:
Rising Sun Course at a Glance:
Cleaved into a pristine expanse of rolling hills and dense woodlands, Chisel Creek Golf Club’s 18-hole course gently rises and falls across 6,203 yards of moderately challenging terrain. Large, undulating greens supply the bulk of the difficulty at the par 70 course, complemented by tight tree lines and dramatically sloped terrain that forces more awkward stances than a middle school dance. A duo of duffers can loop the lush labyrinth astride a nimble golf cart before retiring to the Creekside Grille to refuel with a homemade chicken-salad sandwich (a $5.50 value) or a zesty buffalo-chicken wrap (a $6.50 value).