As I head into the Senior Tour age group, I played one final round as a 40-something on Saturday at Oak Creek in Upper Marlboro. I hadn’t been there before and have heard some promising things. Overall, it’s an interesting layout that is definitely NOT walkable under any circumstances. The course is built into a gated housing development (they’re pretty serious about it; the course is considered to be semi-private which I took to mean that residents had some kind of privileges which makes sense), and the distances between the 1st and 2nd holes combined with the 9th and 10th holes are exhaustive (and involve crossing a busy street). It’s pretty tree-lined on most holes so being accurate off the tee is important. The vast majority of holes are straightforward. A few dogleg holes here and there but nothing particularly crazy.
What I liked:
- Most holes have bail-out areas short and have chipping areas around the green.
- The first hole is a true handshake hole; short par 4 that requires accuracy but otherwise not a brute.
- Greens were straightforward; no multi-tier greens with severe breaks.
- Pro shop seemed to be well-stocked and has a grab and go area for beverages and snacks.
- Bermuda tee boxes and fairways were in decent shape.
- Six sets of tees with distances ranging from 6,980 (tips) to 4,443 (orange).
- Scorecard had tee box my handicap index recommendations. I’d suggest posting this on the 1st tee in plain view.
- Saw a few water stations that seemed to be fresh (on a warm and humid morning ice water is really, really good).
What I didn’t like:
- Greens were in less than ideal shape. The biggest issue was the large number of un-repaired ball marks. If I were the superintendent I’d be livid. Not sure why. I know that outings are notorious for ignoring them (not an excuse on any level). I’d strongly suggest making this an issue, and go over how to repair a ball-mark. I made a point of fixing mine plus at least 1 on every hole. I’d suggest mentioning this to groups. I can see how the greens could be really good with this happening.
- Roughs had several dead areas. I’m inclined to give the course a break on this one given how hot and humid July has been (the Bermuda fairways were, for the most part, in decent shape). Tee boxes were hit and miss. Being tree lined you also had some shady areas that may not be getting much sunlight.
- The first group out (we were 2nd) was a foursome whose pace of play was glacial (very much got the vibe that they were members or something). We passed them after the 5th hole after getting tired of waiting on them on every shot. The marshal we ran into between 12 and 13 admitted as much. Again, if you don’t tell them to pick up the pace they never will. Your first groups should be fast players. You don’t put slowpokes out first.
- No half-way house (the routing kind of meanders through the development), no beverage cart. Their email said that they would send out a beverage cart based on demand so at least they explained their policy. Even an ice machine/water station would be nice.
Overall it’s not bad. If you’re playing on a weekend note that it’s near Six Flags America so take that into account for driving. The exit that they tell you to take on the Beltway is closed (15A); I took 15B and made liberal use of my u-turn skills. It’s also easy to get to off of 301. If you have a tee time on a Sunday when the Redskins have a home game (the stadium is 1-2 exits away) be warned. In the end, I had fun. It’s a 45-60 minute hike for me so I may not be in a massive rush to play it again, but unfortunately this seems to becoming the new normal for golf.
1ST VISIT TO 2ND SWING
So having been curious since they opened, I went to the new 2nd Swing in Columbia this afternoon not knowing what to expect. I was…impressed.
- Clubs were sorted by brand and style (woods, irons, wedges) in a very straight-forward and easy to find fashion. Prices were sorted by condition.
- Ton of kids and beginner sets.
- Nearly a dozen hitting bays that were huge. I mean YUUUUGE.
- Large area for putters with plenty of space and a separate fitting station that was getting used. I was really impressed; if I was in the market for a new flat stick I’d definitely visit.
- Decent selection of bags (mostly cart bags with some carry bags).
- Solid selection of soft goods (balls, hats, etc.).
- They also had a station doing new/replacement grips.
I walked out with two new hats (my preferred brand/style) and a new towel (my preferred brand) for far less than I’d pay otherwise. It’s a fantastic addition to the area and a welcome option (I love Golf Galaxy but getting over there on a weekend while fighting Costco traffic is at best difficult).
Play well, stay cool, and here’s to plenty of pars, birdies and eagles.
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