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Ocean City, MD Golf Getaway


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Saturday I'm heading down to Ocean City, Maryland for 5 rounds of golf over 4 days.

 

We're playing:

 

As I struggle to figure out what I want to put in the bag, I'm wondering if anyone would be interested in updates from my trip? I enjoyed Matt's Myrtle Beach Diary, and was thinking I might do the same for Ocean City.

 

This is the 2nd straight year I'll be headed to OC. I would have loved to travel a little further South to Myrtle, but the guys I'm traveling with are too cheap to spring for the plane tickets (there's not good way to get there from Albany). We played Man O War last year, but otherwise skimped on golf and stayed in a hotel dump that had all the ambiance of a crime scene.

 

This year we're spending more on golf and all of the courses are considered among the best Ocean City has to offer. For those considering a spring getaway on a budget, Ocean City is a reasonable drive from my area (Saratoga, NY) as well as Jersey, NYC, and other points South.

 

There are some decent deals (not quite as cheap as Myrtle) to be had as well. For $525 a man we got our 5 rounds of golf, 3 night hotel stay, free steak dinner at River Run, $50 gift cards for the restaurant at the Links at Lighthouse Sound and Ruth's Chris at GlenRiddle (Man O War/ War Admiral). 3 mornings worth of breakfast is also included.

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I want to hear about it for sure. As a younger man, we took guy trips to Ocean City to party, never golf though. My uncle plays there twice a year, and I am not sure which course it is, but they love to throw up the "Pebble Beach of the East" tag to it. While it isn't Pebble, my uncle said the course is a great course!

 

Keep us updated!

John Barry

Bring the Funk, Back to Golf

The Golfer's Trip

 

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I want to hear about it for sure. As a younger man, we took guy trips to Ocean City to party, never golf though. My uncle plays there twice a year, and I am not sure which course it is, but they love to throw up the "Pebble Beach of the East" tag to it. While it isn't Pebble, my uncle said the course is a great course!

 

Keep us updated!

 

I believe Links at Lighthouse is the one somebody decided to call the Pebble of the East. While I'm not expecting a Pebble experience, it is on most of the Top 100 you can play lists which is certainly something.

 

We played Baywood Greens last year. Somebody decided to call that one the Augusta of the North. It's definitely a hell of a nice course with a great layout, but the nearly 6 hour round sort of ruined it for me.

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The bags are backed. I leave first thing tomorrow morning. I'm constantly tinkering with the composition of my set, and perhaps a golf trip isn't the best time to try something new, but here's what I'm carrying with me:

 


     
  • Callaway FT-9 Tour 8.5° - my driver
  • Unnamed demo from our review list (been struggling with my own driver, so a "break glass in case of emergency" club is coming along)
  • Ping G10 4-Wood (leaving the strong 3-wood at home in favor of an extra wedge)
  • 21° Titleist 585H
  • Mizuno MP-52 (4-PW)
  • Vokey 200 Series 52°
  • Vokey Spin Milled 56° (bent to 58°)
  • Callaway X-Forged 64°
  • TaylorMade Rossa Monza 34" (it's what's working right now)
  • OGIO Anomaly cart bag
  • PUMA Swing Crown GTX shoes
  • Assortment of balls

 

There's a small chance I might switch out a couple of the wedges with similar models from different manufacturers, but this looks like the bag I'm taking.

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Played Rum Pointe yesterday afternoon. Jackass that I am, I forgot to bring the camera with me on the course. Included are a few snaps I took with my phone.

 

From the website:

This Scottish-style links is the only area course to feature bent-grass on the fairways and greens. No less than 17 of the 18 holes have a bay view with several holes having direct bay frontage, where you can start your ball over the water to shorten the hole. The Dyes have certainly created situations of risk and reward that will quicken the heart rate of even the most experienced golfer. From the back tees this championship quality course is capable of hosting a PGA Tour stop but forgiving enough from the middle tees to satisfy golfers of all skill levels.

 

rum1.jpg

 

For the most part the course is wide open with plenty of parallel fairways, and tee boxes close to greens, so be prepared to play a little dodge ball. Considering it's early spring in Ocean City, the course is absolutely fabulous conditions. The smooth greens are unbelievable quick. Unlike some of the other courses I've played in Ocean City, there aren't much in the way of forced carries off the tee (or on approach shots). Most of the trouble you'll find comes from the numerous bunkers (some of them quite deep - I had a blind shot out of what was basically a 12 foot sand pit). Also fortunate for the golfer who struggles with accuracy, most of the hazards are of the lateral variety. You won't find yourself hitting 3 off the tee very often, and unless you find water or miss badly, it's reasonably easy to keep your ball in play.

 

rum2.jpg

 

We played in windy conditions (gusting in to the 20s), so the weather was a challenge (not surprising for a links course on the ocean). I didn't score well...I'll blame the long drive to the course, and the wind, and leave it that.

 

rum3.jpg

 

Overall, Rum Pointe was a very good course; well worth the money. We did have to wait on a few tee boxes, but pace of play wasn't a real issue. Admittedly I didn't enjoy the layout as much as I do Man O War (playing there Monday), but I certainly can't find fault with what is certainly an outstanding courses with the best ocean views we've seen in Ocean City to date.

 

Today we play the Gayer Player designed River Run. I'll try not to forget the camera this time.

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On the second day of my trip we played the Gary Player designed River Run. Quite honestly, I didn't know much about the course going in (this isn't uncommon for Ocean City, so I'm trying to change that). My knowledge consisted of two thing:

 

1. Info like this from the website:

 

"Gary Player created a course that is very enjoyable to play. The golf course is sometimes called a “tale of two nines” with its open front nine and tighter back side that winds through the timber. The course is fair for the beginner, but is certainly no walk in the park for the scratch player. The greens are medium sized and not especially difficult, the fairways are generous from the tee and modestly bunkered. There are a few lakes to avoid and some marshy areas which are common when you're only seven miles from the ocean."

 

And perhaps more importantly...

 

2. They give out free steak dinners (drinks, appetizers, and gratuity NOT included).

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In addition to a putting area, River Run offers complimentary access to what is a decent, although not great driving range. The course itself reminds me a bit of Eagles Landing and Newport Bay which I played last year. Comparisons end with the layout, however, as River Run is better maintained, and the staff is infinitely more friendly. One thing lacking at River Run (again compared to other OC courses), the carts do NOT have onboard GPS, which means I spend more time with the rangefinder in hand than I did at all of the other courses combined.

 

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Unlike Rum Pointe and Links at Lighthouse Sound (review coming later), River Run is more of an inland course. Although the Ocean is visible from a few holes, it's not omnipresent like it is on some other Ocean City course. Instead, the layout is not dissimilar to what I'd find closer to home. Whether your call it woodland, or parkland style, River Run most definitely does not feel nor does it play like an ocean course. After playing in gusty conditions at Rum Pointe the day before, that was hardly a bad thing.

 

The tees we played from are rated at 70.9/125 making it among one of the two most difficult course we played in OC. While more score suggested that might be true, the course played substantially easier than Rum Pointe in the wind. What can I say, I'm a notoriously bad spring golfer, and River Run saw the worst of it.

 

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The course itself was in excellent condition. It seems like higher than average spring temperatures have been good to all of the Ocean City courses, so overall things were a lot greener than they were last year. River Run is mostly left in a natural state (no Augusta style planting beds, etc.), the greens are in excellent conditions, but it's worth noting that they were the slowest we encountered during our trip. They're not slow necessarily (at least not compared to what I normally play), but when compared to the others, well...they rate on the slowish side.

 

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While in general, the course is fairly open, there are a few tight driving holes (including one pictured in this review). The one shown features water down the left. If you're able to navigate that, you still have to content with the possibility that a right-handed hook is going to hit somebody's house. One of the guys in our foursome did just that, which became even more awkward when the homeowner emerged seconds after impact to casually clean his grill.

 

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A couple of holes also border roadways, which in addition to make for tight driving, means you'll have to content with the occasional jackass who thinks it's funny to honk his horn while driving past a couple course. I'm not sure what the total lost ball count was, but definitely two lost to roadways, and one lost to that house I mentioned.

 

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We did have a run in with a homeowner (that is to say, one of the guys in my group did). He had probably had a bit too much to drink, and instead of taking his white stake medicine, he decided he'd play his ball from just outside the confines of the course (which happened to be just inside the confines of somebody's back yard). A woman emerged from one of the neighboring houses and started lecturing (rightfully so) on the meaning of said white stakes; finishing her rant with a demonstrative "take a stroke, Buckweat!". Anytime your buddy gets called Buckwheat by a complete stranger, you've pretty much gotten your money's worth.

 

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Overall, the parkland style, with generous fairways, smooth greens (with not a lot of undulation), makes for a nice change of pace from some of the oceanfront courses. The par 3s are moderate, and there isn't a whole lot in the way of forced carries to content with. While white stakes line parts of the course, there's reasonable space to avoid them, and overall, they don't distract from the quality of play.

 

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The staff at proshop, cart barn, and restaurant were all friendly and made me feel welcome. There's nothing worth than a course staff that goes out of its way to make you feel like it's privilege for you to give them your money, and you should be grateful for the opportunity.

 

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As for the free steak dinner. It was good-enough. Basically, it's exactly what you could reasonably expect from a free sirloin. The Death Wings we got as an appetizer, well...they're appropriately named....especially as far as the next morning is concerned.

 

While admittedly River Run was my least favorite of the courses I played this time around, it wouldn't kill me to play it again. It doesn't have the spectacular vistas of other OC courses, and feels a bit less like a vacation resort course. That said, it's worth a visit should you ever take an Ocean City vacation. Having played it once, however; I'd by more inclined to try something new next time.

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great reviews... It's making me jealous... I'm in the Northern Virginia/DC area for a few more days visiting family, and I've only been out once...Oh well... time with family has been fun... <_>

My Bag:
Driver - 
:cobra-small:  King F6+

3 Wood -  :callaway-small: XR16
Hybrids -  :srixon-small:  ZH45
Irons -  :mizuno-small:  JPX 850 Pro

Wedges -  :callaway-small: Mac Daddy 2
Putter -   :taylormade-small: Spider Tour Red
Bag - Ogio Grom Stand

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Great review and the course looked great. How was the dinner?

As I said in the review, the steak is about what you'd expect out of a free sirloin. Nobody is ever going to confuse it with a ribeye or filet from Ruth's Chris, but it wasn't half bad either. My buddies said the veggies were good, but I jokingly said I don't eat vegetables on vacation, and then decided to run with it.

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For the 3rd day of our trip I had planned pretty much what I consider to be a perfect day of golf. We played 18 holes at Glen Riddle Man O War, followed by a lunch at Ruth's Chris. The afternoon was spent playing 18 at Glen Riddle's War Admiral course, followed by dinner at Ruth's Chris. Seriously, does it get much better?

 

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Of the courses we chose this year, Man O War was the only course we had played last year that made it on to the itinerary for a 2nd go around. Many (in my mind too many) courses get described as links style course. I basically classify links courses into 3 styles; scottish links (pot bunkers, tall fescue, large mounds, etc.), seaside links (water front, rocky, at the mercy of the elements, etc.), and everything else (might have elements of links golf, but doesn't provide what I consider a true links experience). Man O War is a true Scottish links style course (if you can overlook the occasional view of the Wal-Mart across the street).

 

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Here's what Glen Riddle has to say about their Man O War course:

 

he Man O'War Course occupies the westerly portion of GlenRiddle. The course features pure, windswept links golf. The golfer faces challenges often found in the British Isles including large greens, double fairways, pot bunkers, sand dunes, and the ever-present eastern shore winds. The historic racetrack used to train champion thoroughbreds is utilized as a strategic cross hazard on three holes. The Man O'War Course plays 7,163 yards and a par of 72 from the rear tees.

 

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As I said, Man O War was the only course I chose to revisit from the year before. I love true Scottish links style golf. I love mounds, and dunes, and pot bunkers...and Man O War offers all of that. I'm also a huge thoroughbred racing fan, so golfing on the old Riddle farm, in the hoofsteps of the great Champions Man O War, and War Admiral, is just an awesome experience.

 

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As far as the conditions are concerned, Man O War was comparatively in rough shape (still in very good shape all around), but hadn't recovered from the winter as well as the others we played. Last year it was probably a little nicer overall, but still I have no complaints.

 

Overall the greens rolled slower than all but, River Run, but were in great condition (save a few ball marks from golfers who couldn't be bothered to clean up after themselves). As I learned last year, however; they roll true, and for whatever reason, I just have a feel for them. For the 2nd year in a row, I putted very well at Man O War.

 

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Admittedly, the front 9 is 100% Scottish links, while the back does meander into marshlands which in addition to introducing a few forced carries off the tee, makes a few holed play a bit more parkland in style. Overall though, it's still the best links style experience I've ever had.

 

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Overall fairways are generous, and for the most part it's difficult to lose a ball. There are a couple of holes that fall off dramatically around the greens, so if you're not aware of the terrain, or you simply hit a bad shot, then you're either fighting snakes for your ball in a wooded area, or fishing for it in a pond. The carts all have to-the-pin GPS, so if you study it closely you're less likely to find hidden trouble.

 

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The Par 3s are not overly difficult, but that's countered by the par 5s which are difficult (if not impossible) to reach from the blues, or the tips.

 

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This year the weather was perfect (60 & sunny), but honestly, I think I enjoyed it more last year. We had a light, misty rain, and at times heavy fog, which, although making the course more difficult, gave it an ambiance that was missing under sunny skies.

 

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Not related to the course itself, but worth mentioning, Man O War is where I fell in love with the Solus FC-10 wedge. Stick a ball 3 feet on a tricky green once, and you'll love a wedge. Do it again 3 holes later and well..."from my cold dead hands".

 

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Just like last year, the staff was friendly and helpful. Not much to add beyond that. I did have once complaint, but I'll save that for the War Admiral review, since that's where it's most applicable.

 

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The driving range is complementary. It's well maintained, but ideally it wouldn't be located parallel to the 10th fairway. Miss the fairway right off the 10th tee (as 3 in our group did), and you're very much in the line of fire. It definitely not cool.

 

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I loved Man O War last year, and loved it just as much the 2nd time around. I've played a handful of world class courses (Turning Stone, Saratoga National, Links at Lighthouse Sound), and Man O War, while perhaps not as well known, for me anyway, is as fun, if not more fun than any of them.

 

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If we go back to Ocean City, Man O War will continue to be an annual stop.

 

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Another great looking course, I bet it's a bear when the rough comes in~!

John - You can't be wrong. Last year I remember thinking, "damn good thing it's spring and this hasn't grown in yet". It's hard to get out of the high stuff now, but the rough is plenty manageable. Another month and it might be miserable (Kaluhyat at Turning Stone is my reference point for getting your ass kicked by the tall grass)

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After lunch (Turkey Poorboy if you're curious) at Ruth's Chris, and a brief rest, we headed out to War Admiral (the newer of the 2 courses at Glen Riddle) for a 2nd 18. Inexplicably I neglected to take more than a couple of pictures (not sure what the hell I was thinking), so this review is going to be very light on my own photos (the small ones are linked from the War Admiral site). One of my playing partner's in-laws (well, girlfriend's parents anyway) have a house at Glen Riddle, so he's played both course a few times; War Admiral more often than Man O War.

 

war1.jpg

 

What I knew going in is that War Admiral is more wooded (call it Parkland style), a little tighter (as nearly anything would be when compared to Man O War). I had also heard that it was superbly maintained. Oh...and I knew what I had read on the website:

 

Man O'War's sister course, War Admiral, is routed through mature forest and offers a completely different golf experience. The course is sheltered from the wind, but provides a demanding test from the tees. The site's beautiful tidal marsh comes into play on five dramatic holes, offering amazing views. Rugged, breathtaking bunkers reminiscent of golf's great past is the signature of the War Admiral Course. From the rear tees the course plays to a par of 72 and a length of 6,889 yards.

 

war2.jpg

 

From my perspective, War Admiral is like a couple of my favorite area courses (Shenendoah at Turning Stone (links-like rolling green fairways), and Saratoga National (forced carrys over marshlands, but awesome layout) had a baby). If you've played either, I'd say it's more Shenendoah with wide-enough, well maintained fairways, manageable greens, and a scattering of bunkers (some of which are nasty green-side pot bunkers which require a well-lofted escape).

 

war3.jpg

 

There were a few holes I simply didn't care for at War Admiral.

 

#9 is a par 4 where your approach is over marshland (the same marshland you'll encounter on #10). Playing 422 yards, If you're tee shot isn't long, you're looking at a long iron into the green, with not much margin for error to be short. I forgot what club I hit, but I left the damn face open and hit a high flare into the crap. I'm not bitter, or anything, but target golf has never really suited my game.

 

war4.jpg

 

#10 is a par 3 with a substantial forced carry over marshlands. 3 of us ended up taking drops, 2 of the guys ended up taking two drops. On the afternoon of our round, the flag was playing 208 into a head wind. It was rough.

 

war6.jpg

 

Finally, I absolutely despise #18. The tees were back when we played, which basically forced all of us to layup as close as we could to the edge of the water we'd have to hit over. Unfortunately, my lay up shot was crap (pushed it to far to the left), which left me with a 4-iron over wetlands to the green. Once again, I flared the club open (a problem I had most of the week), and ended up playing from the drop area. I don't necessarily mind par 4s where 5 is a good score, but when everybody in your group (even those who hit a good drive), have to hit something between an 8-iron and a PW to put themselves in position to approach the green (dogleg to the right), it leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth...especially if it's the 18th hole (15-17 are really nice though).

 

war7.jpg

 

I don't want for it to sound like a few bad holes ruined my day. Quite the contrary, I loved almost every moment at War Admiral (even if I didn't always play well). After all, it's not really fair to blame the course when I'm the one who sucks. I think War Admiral gets lost in Ocean City, because like Man O War, it's almost out of place in Ocean City. It's not on the water, hell, from what I could tell, it's nowhere near the water, which is definitely fine, but again, it's a little out of place amongst the collection of seaside golf links. That said, it's a stunning course, with a mostly great layout that should most definitely be part of any Ocean City vacation.

 

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We did have an issue with our cart (it basically died). The upside is you can request a cart replacement directly from the console in the cart, the downside is it took more than half an hour and nearly 4 holes for the replacement to show up. Meanwhile our cart was barely rolling down fairways, at times powered by little more than gravity and the wind. Had it not been afternoon on a mostly empty course, we would have had a SERIOUS pace of play problem on our hands. I will admit to being amused when the ranger tried to drive the bad cart back to the cart barn only to discover it didn't have the juice to get out of the gully we were in.

 

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We basically walked right off the 18th green and into Ruth's Chris (how can you not love a golf course with Ruth's Chris attached to the proshop?). I had the filet with spinach and mashed potatoes. I washed it all down with what has to be the beer discovery of the week; Lucky 7 Porter.

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So I just mentioned to one of the guys on the trip that I only took 2 pictures at War Admiral. His question, "was that because you were drunk"?

 

Yeah...it all makes sense now.

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Now that course looks awesome. I love hard course, I would much rather play a course way out of my league than an easy course. It looked like it was in great shape!

John Barry

Bring the Funk, Back to Golf

The Golfer's Trip

 

chevy_chase22.jpg

 

 

 

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