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National pastime arrives

Long-awaited Maryland national opens for area golfers

Long-awaited Maryland national opens for area golfers

July 13, 2002|by DAN SPEARS

dans@herald-mail.com

MIDDLETOWN, Md. - Maryland National Golf Club sits on an old dairy farm in western Frederick County, but that doesn't mean you'll be able to hit the ball until the cows come home.

The cozy, 6,800-yard Arthur Hills layout packs plenty of punch: pot bunkers, native grass, marshland, big greens and quality views. Four hours here isn't just an athletic experience, it's an ethereal one, too.

"Visually, it's very intimidating," head pro Michael Hauk said. "But after you've played it, it's not as much."

Sandwiched between Interstate 70 and U.S. Route 40, Maryland National has teased area golfers since 1994 with a billboard clearly visible from the interstate, announcing an arrival date that was always pushed back. June 29, the sign became accurate, touting a course that will live or die on golf alone.

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"There are 10 homes out here," said Mauk of the houses on a hill overlooking the course and are completely out of play. "This is not a country club. We are not going to go private."

Good thing, too, because many people would miss out on some of the area's best golf course views. It starts at the clubhouse, where you can see four holes backtrack east-west on top of each other, running through a creek valley, going back up another hill and ending just short of the interstate.

The course's strength is its five par-3s: three of them feature steep drops down and all the greens are surrounded by trees, water or hills - or sometimes all three at once. No. 17 gives the best view, and the hardest shot at the pin on a wide, shallow putting surface.

The high native grass will eat up many stray drives on the par-4s and par-5s, especially to the left of the par-4 11th, a dogleg right that is one big hill away from I-70. The right is a bailout area, but any ball in the left half of the fairway turns into a semiblind second shot to a green protected by the hill in front and more high grass in the back.

Bogies will be made, but Maryland National also gives you chances at smaller numbers - although mistakes come with a heavy price.

The par-4 16th is the perfect example. Only 276 yards, a simple mid-iron and wedge could get you on a smallish green in two. For those thinking "driver-and-eagle-putt," beware. A marsh and creek cuts the fairway in two and runs all the way down the left side to the putting surface, which is partially elevated on the creek side.

It all sounds tough. In the end, it's a picture worth taking.

"If you jump on the right tee box here," Mauk said, "anyone can play this place."




Maryland National Golf Club

Where: 8836 Hollow Road, Middletown

How long: 6,811 from back, 6,038 from whites. Par 71

How much: $60 weekdays, $80 weekends

What else: Weekday memberships available

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