I had a golf club fitting this morning in Bethesda, which is a couple hours from Charlottesville. So, I had an afternoon in an area with courses that I haven’t played, and of course I decided to check out a new one. I keep wondering when the excitement of playing a new golf course is going to wear off! I’m going on ten years of this and still get so excited to play a new one!
I went 30 minutes west from Bethesda, towards the Potomac River. There, in the town of Poolesville, lies Poolseville Golf Course. I know I know, the course’s name doesn’t sound all that impressive and another objection is that the town isn’t easy to get to. In fact, I’d say it is difficult to get to, especially from Virginia! To get home I either had to go 30 minutes further west or backtrack towards Washington, as there are only two bridges across the Potomac to use! One is the beltway and the other in Point of Rocks.
My main reason for seeking out a round at Poolseville is that it is an Ed Ault design! He tends to make everything playable, which I enjoy. And true to form, that is what you’ll find here! It is a course that will let you get away with some garbage shots and not ruin your round. One thing I hate is having a bad hole and making one of those dreaded “others”. Well, the “others” can be avoided here! Even the tougher looking tee shots, the 1st and the 14th for example, open up for you to find tee shots missing the short grass.
If you don’t like Ed Ault courses, then I’d suggest that you skip Poolseville as it is classic Ault. And, I completely understand if you don’t like the flatter bunkers, no real signature holes, strip tee boxes, and dull looking holes that some say is an Ed Ault course. My $0.02 is that if you want all that flashiness, then there are plenty of courses closer to Frederick that can satisfy that craving.
When it comes to the layout, it is basic. But, so are many of the other Ed Ault courses that I’ve played. Typically, the nines goes out then in and many holes are fairly straight. That’s what you find at Poolseville, just with the back nine going more “around”. The back nine goes out to the left of a small, man-made lake and then returns to the clubhouse on the other side. It definitely isn’t the most linear Ed Ault design I’ve played!
We played the blue tees which are 72.7/127/6831. As you can see the rating and slope aren’t very high in relation to the yardage. That typically means the distance is going to be the main challenge, and there are certainly some lengthy holes at Poolseville! There is a 605 yard par 5, two par 4’s around 450 yards, and the par 3’s are all beefy. The par 3 8th at 206 yards is the course’s best hole, playing much of the way over water. If you are a long hitter, the distance won’t pose a problem, but if you are an average length hitter like me then you’ll enjoy your share of long irons. Especially, when you consider the course is a par 71 with only three par 5’s!
Besides the distance, the course is bound to nip at your heels. The driving areas are wide, but to actually find the fairways you will need to land the ball in small sections of them. Many fairways pinch to only 20 yards wide with some gentle slope. I had trouble holding the fairways once my drives landed. Thankfully, the penalty for missing the fairways is minor without much lost ball trouble. The greens are smaller than they look too, and slope in many different ways! I saw Tom Clark’s name tied to the design too and I’d bet that he re-designed the greens at some point, making them more undulating. Don’t challenge the back pins would be my one piece of advice! Some greens have false back edges while others slope from back to front, either way it is tough chipping from over the greens.
For $25 to walk on a weekend I don’t think you can beat the conditions! Granted, it is still that time of year prior to courses showing the summer heat. But, Poolseville was lush and green with the grass having a nice color. There was some brown fescue that framed all the green grass, providing some definition. The fairways were full and I was able to take healthy, chunky divots. The greens were a pleasure to putt as they were speedy and smooth. Our group had downhill putts get away. And, as long as your approach didn’t land on a downhill slope, the greens were receptive. For a municipal (or county) course the conditioning was impressive.
If you are in the area Poolesville I think the course is worth checking out! I’d even say it is worth a drive from Frederick and D.C., if you like to try new courses. Poolesville won’t blow you away, but it should allow you to enjoy the day on the course even if you don’t bring your “A game”. Our pace of play was 4 hours and 45 minutes, but keep in mind that is normal from my experience golfing close to Washington.
#1 (389 yard par 4):
#2 (605 yard par 5):
#3 (227 yard par 3):
#4 (395 yard par 4):
#5 (395 yard par 4):
#6 (448 yard par 4):
#7 (525 yard par 5):
#8 (206 yard par 3):
#9 (385 yard par 4):
#10 (415 yard par 4):
#11 (489 yard par 5):
#12 (460 yard par 4):
#13 (176 yard par 3):
#14 (372 yard par 4):
#15 (363 yard par 4):
#16 (374 yard par 4):
#17 (182 yard par 3):
#18 (425 yard par 4):