As part of my goal to play more courses in Baltimore in 2017, I took a trip up into northern Baltimore County yesterday (August 19th) to play at Greystone Golf Course (located in White Hall, which is north of Hunt Valley for those interested). Greystone is part of the Baltimore County Revenue Authority portfolio of courses (similar, it seems, to the Montgomery County Golf courses).
Admittedly, I didn’t know much about Greystone beyond having seen it listed in Golfweek Magazine’s ’10 Best You Can Play’ list by state on several occasions (it’s ranked #10 in their 2017 list). From my humble abode in Columbia it’s an hour drive up to the course. Not the easiest place in the world to find, but credit to them for having ample signage along the way (strongly prevent having directions or using a GPS).
Having finished, I can see why it earns the praise it does and it further shows that a municipally-run course can be well taken care of and hold its own against privately-run courses.
WHAT I LIKED:
- Five sets of tees. So many courses only have 3 or 4 sets. They had five sets. From the tips it’s just under 7,000 yards and from the forward (red) tees it’s 4,800 yards. I played the front nine with a husband and wife (she was playing from the red tees and enjoying herself and finding plenty of challenge and opportunity).
- Conditions. The hot, humid and spate of strong thunderstorms that we’ve had must be a nightmare for superintendents and it seems like this year has had its own unique challenges. So full credit to the maintenance staff for their work. Greens rolled true. Fairways were in good shape but the turf was probably in need of a trim so not exactly playing firm and fast, but they were consistent. Rough was, for the most part, thick and lush.
- Yardage poles. I know that this is a bit of controversy for some, but I like them. For one, it helps people determine yardages since not everyone carries a GPS device/watch or a rangefinder. Second, it helps someone see how the fairway is laid out (especially on semi-blind tee shots).
- Five par 3’s, five par 5’s. Don’t see this very often. Both nines start with a par 5. The par 3’s vary quite a bit in length (white tee lengths listed) from 130-175 yards (when I played it ran from 120-195 yards). The closing hole (572 yards from the tips, 541 from the white tees) is a 3-shot deal. Three of the par 5’s are under 500 yards from the white tees.
- Not a lot of housing. With the exception of a couple holes on the back nine, you don’t see any housing. It’s pure golf.
- A nice sign in the pro shop and a nice link on their website about their aerification schedule. Well done.
- Pro shop was well stocked and had the kind of things you’d expect to find.
- Everyone I met that worked there was friendly. Guy in the pro shop was nice; the guys in the staging area dealing with carts and getting people off were nice enough as well. I’d also comment that since I left my glove (I do typically go to a new one after 6-8 rounds, so sue me for that) at home I had to buy one there; not sure what it says when the one I buy at a course is $4.00 cheaper than at a retail store beyond thanks for not ripping me off.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
- Cart path only. The fairways and roughs weren’t wet other than from overnight dew. Not spongy a bit. I understand the par 3’s and hole 15 (tight, tree-lined, clearly doesn’t get a lot of sun) but otherwise I’m not sure about this. They didn’t get that much rain the night before (according to the NWS). It really slows pace of play up. If it were wet I’d understand, but it wasn’t that wet.
- Didn’t see a beverage cart all day. Water stations weren’t plentiful. I don’t expect courses to have the holy shrines of ice/water machines like Potomac Shores (TPC Potomac also has them) has, but seeing a beverage cart would be nice. It was warm and humid. For a course that does a lot of things well, this struck something of an odd note. Trying to finish quickly I didn’t make a stop at the turn, so I can’t comment on that. If you do go, you can hit the clubhouse after the 4th, 9th, and 18th hole.
- Cart paths were pretty beat up. Don’t think anyone’s going to talk about how great the asphalt is. Excusable given the conditions of the fairways and greens.
IF YOU GO
- Give yourself plenty of time to get there and to come back. Traffic on the Baltimore Beltway (I-695) rivals its DC cousin, and I-83 can be less than fun.
- You don’t need to bring 2 dozen balls but don’t show up with a sleeve and think that’ll get you through the day. There’s enough holes with forced carries and hazards to give most players pause for thought.
- Some of the bunkers are pretty deep so be good with that 56-58 degree sand wedge.
- There’s not really much of anything near the course (probably 4-5 miles south on MD-45 until you hit what appears to be civilization).
- Have directions. Once you make the turn from MD-45 for the street to the course, it’s a several miles of 1-lane (in each direction) road. Watch out for deer and other drivers.
- You don’t need to be long, but accuracy is rewarded.
- Someone chop that damn tree near the tee on the 8th hole. Please.
Greystone is a great challenge for most golfers including single digit handicappers. It’s not quite on the par of a Bulle Rock or Worthington Manor but for a county-run course it’s outstanding. If it were in Howard County I’d put it on a par with Waverly Woods and above Timbers at Troy or the CA courses. In short, go.
MY PUBLIC DEMANDED IT
Okay, that’s probably not true (and by probably I mean ‘in no way’) but barring an emergency I’ll be making an appearance on Monday, August 21st at the HoCoBlogs event at BareBones Grill in Ellicott City. Watch me attempt to eat food without spilling on myself. Watch me consume alcohol. Listen to me have terrible opinions about golf. Watch me interact with other bloggers (sorry folks, but She Who Is Really In Charge will not be there- someone has to take care of the dog).