A friend of mine was working in Ocean City this week and invited me up on Friday to play some golf. He extended his stay, I made a quick trip, and we played two new courses this weekend. Ocean City is a bit of a hike from Charlottesville, with it taking over five hours to get there. There’s really no good way to get to Ocean City from Charlottesville, its either you go up to D.C. and across the Bay Bridge or over to Norfolk and then across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel. Basically, both ways stink! Although, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel is an incredible engineering project and if you’ve never been across it, it is worth the $15 or $20 toll. The nerd in me likes bridges, and that is a good one!
Anyway, our course choices were limited to three in the area because everyone else had aerated within the last two weeks. I must have called twenty courses, and found just about all of them aerated recently. Because of that, and a rainy forecast for Saturday, we didn’t get to play as much as I was hoping this trip! This was my first time in Ocean City and from what I had read, there are some good courses.
One of the courses that hadn’t aerated in August was the War Admiral course at Glen Riddle. That was on our shortlist and we braved a rainy forecast to check it out. Not surprisingly, there weren’t many other golfers out! We got there a few minutes early and headed out after hitting a few range balls. The rain started on the 5th hole and once that heavy shower passed, a light rain continued for the rest of the round. I always enjoy it when a premium course includes range balls.
Well, you better be ready to play as the course starts out with the number one handicap, a 600 yard par 5! There is water left and trees and bunkers to the right which keep you from chickening out over there. It is a rude way to begin the round, that’s for sure. My preference is an easier opening hole (think Donald Ross)!
The rest of the front nine isn’t too bad until you get to the 9th. That’s where the course starts to get silly, with long forced carries and some head scratching holes. The approach on the 9th is over a tidal marsh but the hole is one of the longest par 4’s on the course, at 428 yards from the gold tees. The 10th goes the opposite direction across the marsh and it is the longest par 3 on the course (198 yards). It has nice views of the area, but has another long carry. What drove me nuts is most of the forced carries are on long holes! The gold tees are 71.9/140/6650.
Sadly, there are more “weird” holes at War Admiral on the back nine. The 11th is a short par 4 where the driving area gets wider the further you hit it. I’m no design genius, but shouldn’t the fairway on a short par 4 bring trouble into play with a driver and not a long iron? The 12th is a par 5 where the center of the fairway turns into a hazard. Huh? The 17th green sits only 10 steps from two sets of tees for the 18th, talk about possibly getting beaned! Finally, the 18th features a quirky angle off the tee and another long forced carry over the marsh.
No doubt that the designer (Joel Weiman) was limited by the lay of the land and the home sites but it seems more could have been done to make the course playable. Take out some of the deep bunkers, make the greens flatter, or offer a combo set of tees. The course is tough enough visually and around the elevated greens without the all the forced carries. I’d bet plenty of the 140 slope is from the mounded greens repelling shots landing off them.
There is some good though! Most of the holes are tree lined, with wetlands off to the side of each hole. There are a bunch of pine trees, which make you feel like you are in Myrtle Beach and you’ll enjoy being secluded even though you play through a housing community.
The 3rd or the 6th are probably the best holes on the front nine. The 3rd is a shorter par 5 that doglegs right. If you hit the fairway you have plenty of options on the second shot. You can go for the green, play pin high over a large group of bunkers, or layup. The 6th is a short par 4 that allows you to hit driver or layup, again your choice what you want to do. The green is long and snakes from front left to back right. It is one of those greens with an unlimited number of pin locations.
Besides some nice views of the area one highlight at War Admiral were the conditions. There were some areas showing the summer heat and some scruffy areas as Ocean City has received a bunch of rain recently. From my experience, the course seems to drain well. Compared to bermuda fairways where I normally play, the bent grass fairways were great to hit from! I took healthy divots and ended up hitting some crisp irons. The greens were on the quick side and true. The tees were aerated recently, but that had no affect on play.
We paid $70 and I think that is a reasonable price for a round of golf near the beach during peak season. War Admiral is tough, too tough for me but there seem to be plenty of people who enjoy it. If you don’t let the toughness bother you, then you should be able to enjoy the setting and the course’s nice look. Oh, and you may want to play here before the homes get built. There are lots of empty home sites.
#1 (600 yard par 5):
#2 (369 yard par 4):
#3 (509 yard par 5):
#4 (165 yard par 3):
#5 (405 yard par 4):
#6 (346 yard par 4):
#7 (156 yard par 3):
#8 (421 yard par 4):
#9 (428 yard par 4):
#10 (198 yard par 3):
#11 (297 yard par 5):
#12 (518 yard par 5):
#13 (430 yard par 4):
#14 (342 yard par 4):
#15 (405 yard par 4):
#16 (499 yard par 5):
#17 (144 yard par 3):
#18 (418 yard par 4):