At the start of 2017, I had a couple goals. Finally play Bulle Rock, and make a concerted effort to play some of the courses in Baltimore. Bulle Rock was crossed off my ‘to play’ list in early May, and I’m just now starting to discover golf courses in Baltimore County and city. I’ll admit that I didn’t know much about what was on offer, but there’s plenty there for a variety of playing levels.
On a muggy and humid morning, I made the trek to western Baltimore County to play at Diamond Ridge, a 36-hole facility that operates two courses (The Woodlands is the second course and one I have yet to play). The drive heading to the course is a lot of ‘one lane in each direction’ roads that wind through some rural parts of the county (so be careful during certain parts of the year).
Checking in was a breeze thanks to a couple helpful folks in the pro shop. We loaded up our carts, rolled a few putts (the practice green was not exactly rolling a 16 on the stimpmeter but it mirrored conditions on the course which is sort of the point) and headed off.
If you’re looking for pristine conditions and white-glove service, then Diamond Ridge probably isn’t for you (most public courses aren’t for you either). But, if you’re looking for a tough but ultimately fair layout with good playing conditions that requires accuracy off the tee (my driving was a gong show and the rough was more than a bit thick and lush), then you could do a hell of a lot worse. It’s a traditional parkland, tree-lined layout with a mix of holes that are fairly flat and others that have significant elevation changes (most of the holes are fairly close together but the elevation changes can make it a bit of a slog to walk).
A mundane opening hole leads to two holes with elevation changes (the third is a challenging and long dogleg par 4 to an elevated and protected green).
On the front side you don’t see a par 5 until the 9th and it’s a test (one minor quibble with what is otherwise a great layout is that six of the first seven holes are par 4’s). From the tee it looks fairly straightforward but any tee shots that go wayward and you find out that this course has a lot more challenge than you expect.
The back nine starts with a par 3 over water (if you start on the back nine that’s a hell of a way to start your round); it’s just long enough to make you think about the impending doom.
The back nine has a much larger variety of holes including 3 par 5’s. The par 5’s may look easy on the card (I said this and immediately regretted it) but they’re not. 11 is a dog-leg beast (our group collectively blew up on this hole), 14 is not long but is very tight, and 18 looks easy but like the rest of the holes, if you get the least bit wild you’re screwed.
The closing stretch of holes are good- 16 is a short dogleg par 4 that big hitters might think about taking a run at. 17 is a long par 3 to a green with a ton of undulation, and 18 is a par 5 that plays slightly uphill and bends to the left.
Tee boxes, fairways and greens were well maintained (the greens were being hand-watered while we were playing- smart to not shave ’em down given the current weather we’re having). Pristine? No, but still maintained and I’d put them as “above average” compared to what I’ve seen from courses in the region this year. The superintendent deserves plaudits given how nutty our weather has been.s
There’s a fairly decent driving range (mats only), and several practice greens and chipping greens so plenty of space to work on your game. One minor quibble was that we didn’t see a beverage cart on a very hot and humid morning. The pro shop was well stocked and though I didn’t avail myself of their grill/bar, it looked as though they had what you’d expect to find (we didn’t stop at the turn which I was wishing we had).
Diamond Ridge isn’t going to appear on Golfweek’s “10 Best You Can Play in Maryland” anytime soon. And that’s okay- it’s still a well maintained layout that will challenge the vast majority of players. You should go, and when you do- keep those tee shots in the fairway.
Enjoy your July 4th celebrations.