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
After spending his formative years helping his father to operate multiple golf facilities, John Invernizzi decided to dedicate his adult life to spreading the gospel of the game. The PGA pro opened Hereford Golf Center in 1995 with the aim of creating a pressure-free space for golfers of all stripes to hone their swings, learn to appreciate the game, and debate about which club would be the most useful to ward off feral caddies. In the ensuing 17 years, clubbers have been hitting practice balls at the center’s 36-stall driving range, replete with eight target greens that range from 50 to 260 yards.
The adjacent Lost Falls Miniature Golf Course takes friendly competitors careening past two ponds, a large stream, and a mysterious cave as they steer golf balls toward pintsize flagsticks. True to his mission of making golf fun and accessible for everyone, John and the staff at Hereford Golf Center provide clubs free of charge, sparing clubless players from hastily purchasing one or digging in their backyard for a conveniently shaped mastodon bone.
Nestled in the rolling hills of Maryland's countryside, the Wakefield Valley Golf Club showcases three different nine-hole courses. Each course presents a unique set of challenges, with the green course showcasing lengthy par 5s and the white course challenging golfers with hilly terrain and water holes that lure errant shots and experimental scuba-tank golf bags. The gold course, meanwhile, sets up demanding tee shots into narrow fairways, as seen on its signature eighth hole, where water guards the green on all sides.
Golfers can warm up for rounds at the driving range and practice green or employ the swing-honing advice of PGA Professional Scott Magee, who teaches enough students to believe that he will find one who can pull a putter from a stone. Guests can also refuel rumbling stomachs with casual food and drinks at Fenby’s Restaurant.
Top Flite Super Range golf balls hurtle toward laser-measured targets on Westminster Island Green’s lighted range, where players practice their drives from 50 hitting stations. Guests continue to enrich their golfing skills during lessons with PGA-certified golf instructors, summertime junior clinics (with 7:1 student-teacher ratios), and ladies or couples golf clinics held every other Thursday. Westminster Island Green also accommodates putters with a fully lit 18-hole miniature golf course, with island-themed landscaping and goldfish ponds. Alternatively, baseball buffs can watch their homers fly through an open-air batting park unobstructed by nets. There, pitching machines launch softballs at up to 60 mph and baseballs at up to 70 mph, while batters control the height of each pitch and the speed at which they spit out sunflower seeds.
With a stay at The Hotel at Turf Valley in Ellicott City, you'll be within the vicinity of Centennial Park and Patapsco Valley State Park. This spa resort is within the vicinity of The Mall in Columbia and Diamond Ridge Golf Course.
Make yourself at home in one of the 171 air-conditioned rooms featuring refrigerators. Complimentary wired and wireless Internet access keeps you connected, and cable programming provides entertainment. Bathrooms have complimentary toiletries and hair dryers. Conveniences include safes and complimentary newspapers, and housekeeping is provided daily.
Rec, Spa, Premium Amenities
Pamper yourself with a visit to the spa, which offers massages, body treatments, and facials. After practicing your swing on the golf course, you can enjoy other recreational amenities including a golf course and outdoor tennis courts. Additional amenities include complimentary wireless Internet access, concierge services, and gift shops/newsstands.
Satisfy your appetite at the resort's restaurant, which features a bar and a garden view. Dining is also available at a coffee shop/café. Meet other guests and eat at the complimentary evening social, held at evening on Saturdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Relax with a refreshing drink from a poolside bar or one of the 2 bars/lounges. Breakfast is available daily for a fee.
Business, Other Amenities
Featured amenities include complimentary high-speed (wired) Internet access, a 24-hour business center, and an Internet point. Event facilities at this resort consist of a conference center, conference/meeting rooms, and small meeting rooms. A roundtrip airport shuttle is provided for a surcharge (available on request).
?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: