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Maryland, also referred to as "The Free State", is known by its majestic private golf courses. However, this state offers a huge number of public golf gems that are worth a visit. While most of them are not very cheap, count with some affordable rates and some fantastic conditions, which melt perfectly with the Maryland characteristic topographic variety.
This fact makes all the courses here fun and challenging, and definitely beautiful. Here you have a list of our top-ten public courses in the whole state. Let’s go!
Best Golf Courses in Maryland
Without any doubt, Bulle Rock is the top public course in the whole state of Maryland. Designed by the great Pete Dye in 1998, this course has everything: challenge, memorable holes, fantastic conditions and a stunning location. Located in the city of Havre de Grace, on the shores of the Susquehanna River mouth, Bulle Rock is an obliged visit for those visiting Maryland and eager to hit some balls.
This course offers a sheer country club experience, with some excellent services, such as dining, locker rooms with an attentive staff member and meeting rooms. In the course the feeling is the same: the friendly and attentive staff will welcome you gently and offer the possibility of hiring a caddie or a cart with GPS, or guide you to the practice facilities, which include a driving range, three short game areas and a putting green. (Top 100 Golf Courses, s.f.)
About the holes, there are some great ones worth the mention. We could agree that the signature is the 18th: a finishing par 4 with water on the left, and an extremely challenging approach shot to a small green surrounded by water. Part from this one the 12th is a gorgeous par 3 that curves to the right, surrounding the water hazard, and with stunning views of the woods as backdrop. (Satterfield, s.f.)
Green fees are not cheap, but also not expensive for the fantastic experience you will have here: from $65 to &99 per round.
Being loyal to the state of Maryland, this course offers a wide variety of features: streams, wetlands, meadows, pine forests and rock formations, all together in a beautiful location with the Catoctin Mountains as background. Combined with an amazing sense of isolation, Whiskey Creek is a course every golfer should play at least once.
Designed by J. Michael Poellot with Ernie Els, former two times champion of the U.S Open, it was opened to the public in the year 2000. The best hole is the finishing 18th, which it is said to be one of the most dramatic finishing holes in the Mid-Atlantic (Whiskey Creek Website, s.f.). This unique hole features some 19th century stone house ruins, a small pond and stunning views of the Maryland countryside and the clubhouse, all together in a hole with different possible options to reach the green.
Its prices range between $80 to $100 depending on the day and time of play.
Bishopville is set in the south-eastern side of Maryland, close to Ocean City, and almost touching the border with the state of Delaware. Here lies the Links at Lighthouse Sound, a course designed by Arthur Mills which opened in the year 2000, offering a golf round as beautiful as varied: its location, on the shores of the Assawomen Bay, makes it an absolute delight for the eyes; and the natural terrain, featuring the marshlands, ocean, hardwood and the Ocean City skyline, a course with a diverse kind of holes. (Golf Advisor, s.f.)
The signature here is clearly the 5th: a par 3 over a swamp to a green surrounded by water. And while not a hole per se, another highlight of the course is that it has the longest cart bridge of the whole country.
Apart from golfing, you have an impressive restaurant simply called The Restaurant at the Lighthouse Sound.
However, the drawback of this course is its price: during peak season (spring and fall), the rate can ascend to $140 plus taxes per round. However, if you play during summer, the green fee goes down to $89 if playing in the afternoon.
Only about 30 kilometres from the White House at Washington D.C., this course lies as one of the few top courses in the area for an affordable rate. From the creators of the magnificent Kiawah Island in South Carolina comes Lake Presidential, offering an inspiring design and a challenging, yet fair level of play.
Some great holes here, featuring the par 3 9th and par 5 18th, both of them playing with the lake which gives the course its name. However, its best may be the 8th: a par 5 which plays a narrow tee to a well-protected green, with the lake and some bunkers coming into play.
Here the process are more affordable than the previous courses, oscillating between $55 and $65. An absolute must play!
Lodestone is located in McHenry, a little town in the northwest of Maryland. It is part of the Wisp Resort, where It shares its protagonism with other touristic attractions, such as skiing, ice skating, mountain activities like biking or archery, water activities like rafting or kayaking, and even escape rooms.
If we stay on golf, Wisp counts with two main courses, Lodestone and Fantasy Valley. However, the best one is the former. The Lodestone course is situated on the crest of the mountains above Deep Creek Lake, and was designed by the three-time U.S Champion Hale Irwin along with the architect Todd Schoeder.
The course offers a great deal of difficulty, however, its wide fairways make it quite forgiving for the average player. Undulating greens, blind shots, great bunkers and elevation changes makes it a real pleasant and fun experience, accompanied by some spectacular views of the mountains above the lake.
This course also counts with a great practice facility, including a 300 yard- driving range, a chipping area and a putting green.
Rates here are similar to the ones we have already seen, and range between $70 and $100.
Founded in the year 2002, the River Marsh Club is part of the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay golf resort, and was designed by Keith Foster. This course has a classic style: wide fairways, large greens and sculpted bunkers, with a challenging yet enjoyable golf round for players of all levels. It also offers a great deal of water, as Shoal Creek meanders through most of the course, and the Choptank River appears as background in some greens.
The best feature of this course is its finish. Number 17 and 18 are two scenic holes that will blow your mind. 17th is a dramatic par 3 which plays over Shoal Creek to a green protected by three beautiful shaped bunkers. The last one is a great risk-reward par 5, playing with the Choptank River as background.
Rates, similar as the other ones, varying from season to season: while from January to March is $58, from May to October can cost around $120 on the weekends.
Rating: 4.3/5.0Really close to Ocean City, Rum Pointe counts with a scenic location: it is set in front of the Sinexpuxent Bay, overlooking the Assateague National Seashore Park. Designed by Pete Dye along with his son Paul Burke, this course has a classic Scottish seaside links style with most of the holes featuring some great views the bay, and opened in 1997.
Lots of risk-reward opportunities here, which make the course a fun and challenging experience for the most avid golfers, while being forgiving enough for the less-skilled ones.
The fees can be up to $170 on peak season, however, going between January and April will cost you around $50. Make sure of checking their website to know the exact price for your tee time!
Michael Hurdzan is the creator of this course, which opened in 1991 in the city of Berlin, really close to the previous one, Rum Pointe. This one offers some great views of the Sinepuxent Bay as well, and it can boast of being the first certified Audubon cooperative sanctuary in Maryland.
According to its website, the signature hole is the 18th: a finishing par 4 surrounded by marsh, with a tough approach shot to the green, not for the faint of heart. (Eagle's Landing Golf Website, s.f.)
It also counts with a fantastic clubhouse featuring a well-stocked pro shop, a restaurant called The Caddy Shack Café and a decent practice facility with driving range, chipping area and putting green.
We arrive to the Rocky Gap Casino Resort, which counts with the only golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus in Maryland, and opened in 1998. Located in the city of Cumberland, in the north-western side of the state, the course lies on the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, next to the Lake Habeeb, which gives it a natural and incredible beauty.
This mountain course provides some great challenge to all-skilled players, with two nines different from each other: while the front nine plays more mountain-style, with dramatic elevation changes and trees; the back nine has some wide meadows that makes it more forgiving.
The resort offers a wide variety of activities apart from golf, such as hiking, fishing, biking, kayaking… And if you are not very adventurous, you can always go to the Lodge and enjoy some incredible massages, or enjoy the indoor and outdoor swimming pools. (Nicklaus.com, s.f.)Rates for a golf round cost around $129, not cheap, but worthy!
Musket Ridge counts with some impressive mountain views, without any close residential area to distract you from the sheer beauty of nature. This advantage is due to its precious location, on the foothills of Catoctin Mountains in the city of Myersville. Designed by Joe Lee, the course opened in 2001 and offers great conditions for an affordable price, which range from $60 to $90 per round.
The first hole welcomes you with a fantastic elevated tee, where you can admire the beauty of Maryland landscapes. The course from there has some uphill and downhill holes that keeps you entertained and challenged throughout the whole course.
Apart from the 18 holes, Musket Ridge also offers a great practice facility, with a bentgrass driving range and a putting green with stunning views.
These ten courses offer a great experience to every golfer who wants to enjoy great golf in Maryland. No matter which one you choose, you probably will enjoy it to the fullest. Have fun, and let us know how it went!