Tag: United States

Let’s Play Two! A Guide to Golf and Minor League Baseball Day Trips in the DMV

Free stock photo of people, field, grass, crowd

After playing 18 (or 36) holes, few things are as enjoyable as a baseball game with a cold beer on a summer evening.

Now that our seemingly endless winter has ended, the DMV has shifted into Spring (i.e. All of the Pollen) mode, which means summer is right around the corner.  While I’d encourage anyone reading this to take a vacation (they’re awesome), for various reasons it’s hard for some people to take a lot of time off.   Sometimes, the best you can do is a day trip with your buddies.

One of the most enjoyable day trips you can do is to play golf by day, and catch a ballgame at night.  While Orioles and Nationals games are enjoyable, there’s a lot to be said for catching a minor league game.  Tickets are cheaper, you’ll sit closer to the action, and it’s generally a more relaxed vibe.  Luckily, there are multiple options for minor league baseball in the area, with outstanding golf options nearby.

Minor League Team: Potomac Nationals (Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals); Woodbridge, VA

Golf: Options are plentiful.  If you want to play courses in the ‘Best You Can Play’ tier, Potomac Shores is outstanding; you can read my review here.  It’s a real ‘member for a day’ experience.  Laurel Hill is close by and has hosted a USGA championship.  Not bad for a county-run course.  Another option at the higher end is Old Hickory; also in Woodbridge.  If you’re looking for something less costly and not as challenging, Lake Ridge is a 9-hole executive course.  Warning: Traffic on I-95 in Woodbridge is pretty much guaranteed to be awful.  Potomac Mills is there for any retail therapy you need.

Minor League Team: Frederick Keys (Class A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles); Frederick, MD

Golf: Options are very plentiful.  Musket Ridge is a top 10 you can play course that has one of the tougher opening holes in the area.  Whiskey Creek is also a top 10 ‘Best You Can Play’ that offers the ‘member for a day’ experience (and with the cost).  PB Dye is a Dye design close by that is a bit friendlier to your wallet.  Worthington Manor is another  top 10 ‘Best You Can Play’ course.  Maryland National is several miles west of Frederick and is a challenging and scenic layout.  A few miles south of Frederick has the outstanding Little Bennett.  Not a wallet crusher but a fantastic test that’s almost always in great shape, and the tee shot off the first hole definitely gets your attention.  The course used to be used for hosting the Monday Qualifier for the old Kemper/FBR Open.  Clustered Spires is a bit more wallet-friendly than the other courses listed; I’ve not played it so I’d say check online reviews before you go.

Minor League Team: Bowie Baysox (Class AA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles): Bowie, MD

Golf: Options exist but not as numerous or close by as Frederick and Woodbridge/Potomac.  Oak Creek (in Upper Marlboro) is a decent upscale semi-private track.  Lake Presidential has been a bit up and down with respect to playing conditions (they addressed some of the issues on their blog last summer, so stay tuned).  The layout is one of the best in the area, but I haven’t played it in a few years and I’ve heard some pointed comments about how they’ve let the course go.  I’ve also heard they are in the process of making improvements, so I’d say look at recent reviews online before you book.  Renditions is similar; if the course is in good shape it’s a great place to play (the ‘Amen Corner’ holes are the pick of the bunch if you’re asking).  The “book” on Renditions is that they book way too many outings that tear the course up, but as with Lake Presidential, allegedly they’re trying to make some improvements.  At the lower end of the price range, Bowie Golf Club is close by and if nothing else a solid value.  The ballpark is right off US-301 which is a huge commuter artery.

Minor League Team: Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (independent); Waldorf, MD

Golf: Potomac Ridge is closed (Atlantic Golf lost Potomac Ridge to development, and South River near Annapolis to going private).  Waldorf isn’t that far from Upper Marlboro, so Oak Creek or Lake Presidential are your best options.

Minor League Team: Aberdeen Ironbirds (Short Season Class A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles); Aberdeen, MD

Golf: The list has to start with Bulle Rock in nearby Havre De Grace.  Easily the ‘Best You Can Play’ in the state.  My review of Bulle Rock goes into greater detail.  Mountain Branch is nearby and is a solid layout that’s usually in pretty good shape (I last played it in 2014 and it was in great shape then), but hearing a few rumblings so be warned.  A GPS or rangefinder is highly recommended.  Wetlands Golf Course is in Aberdeen and isn’t the wallet-buster than Bulle Rock is.  Well conditioned, decent layout.  The Ironbirds season starts on June 15th.

Minor League Team: Delmarva Shorebirds (Class A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles); Salisbury, MD (Eastern Shore)

Golf: Your best options for golf are in nearby Ocean City, which is one of the best places to play on the Eastern Seaboard.  I wrote a review about golf in Ocean City that is still accurate.  Note: summer in Ocean City is prime season so if you’re staying, expect to pay accordingly.  The Bay Bridge is a toll bridge (going to the Eastern Shore); Salisbury is a 2 1/2-3 hour drive from either Washington DC or Baltimore (longer on afternoons Thu/Fri, or Saturday mornings).  Warning; Salisbury is home to the Perdue chicken processing plant and the area has a distinct…let’s call it smell.  Ocean City is 30+ minutes from Salisbury.

SONG OF THE DAY:

Departing from golf, the World Cup starts next month in Russia.  It’s become something of a tradition for a band in England to write an official song for the England team (insert joke about futility, losing at penalties, etc.).  New Order were the high water mark of these, which they did for the 1990 World Cup.  Genius work.  They got several players to participate in the video shoot (most notably John Barnes and his ball-juggling and rap skills).  Probably the greatest music video marriage of sports and music.

 

 

 

 

Ryder Cup Idea you didn’t ask for

So having just watched the NHL Winter Classic (and yes- the humour of being a diehard fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and a diehard golfer isn’t lost on me), there’s one thing that they did today that could translate to golf- the announcement of Ryder Cup teams.

During the 2nd intermission the US Women’s Olympic team was announced and the men’s team was announced after the game.

The women’s team were at the game; the men’s team were announced using kids wearing each player’s sweater (except for the three players who played in the game who made the US team who came out of the dressing room to be announced).  Great stuff.

So rather than have a press conference during midweek to announce the team (which ends up getting lost in the shuffle), why not announce the team after the US PGA Championship (on the broadcast)?  Since the PGA of America runs the tournament (and the Ryder Cup) you’d have perfect synergy.  I know- NBC has the Ryder Cup rights and CBS has the US PGA Championship…but CBS can give up 10 minutes after the tournament trophy presentation (during August when 60 minutes is in reruns) to announce the Ryder Cup team.

Have the US Ryder Cup captain announce the roster.  If a player can’t make it, have one of the kids from the local First Tee program “stand in” for said player (have each player with their Ryder Cup staff bag with their name on it).  You’re announcing a US team in front of an American audience.  You’re telling me people won’t watch on TV?  You already have a captive audience, and the people at the tournament get a little extra.

You’re telling me the players would object to having to hang around a couple hours (those that are on the team and finished earlier) to get a round of applause (at most)?  If that’s the case then that says a lot about how they really feel about it.

Oh, and for the love of 30 foot birdies can we stop with the number of captain’s picks changing every match?  Pick a number.  3 seems good.  Or 2.  Or 4.  Just pick a number and leave it the hell alone.

Round #2

Played at Redgate in Rockville yesterday…despite a cold wind it was a nice day.  Course was, for the most part, in good shape (the cold March and some pretty bad t-storms on Friday evening aren’t anyone’s fault).  The old SGWC played with a rare friend who doesn’t give me the stink-eye (in fact I think I contributed to him getting the golf bug as bad as he did…you’re welcome).

A full review to follow, but a few mentions about Redgate Golf Course:

-Folks in the pro shop were very polite and friendly and not the “whaddya want” attitude I’ve experienced a few years ago.  The gentleman who was working was apologetic about it being “cart path only” (given we had strong t-storms on Friday night, it’s understandable- several bunkers had standing water and there were at least half a dozen not small puddles in fairway and greenside areas).

-The starter was a nice guy as well.  Look- we’re playing golf!  It’s supposed to be fun so starters that see themselves as some kind of “Checkpoint Charlie” types…ugh.

-Played (as is my want) as part of the dawn patrol.  I play fast (our twosome wasn’t trying to set a speed record, but by playing ready golf and having a reasonable “circle of friendship” on conceded putts) and we got around in 3 1/2 hours; saw the group in front of us a couple times and only saw the group in back of us a couple times.

-Billy Casper Golf is managing it; I won’t pretend to know or care about the politics of the course (at one point the city of Rockville ran it).  If the course continues to be viable (and honestly it’s a great traditional course) then that helps everyone.

-I played average.  Did something to my middle finger (those that know me would say it’s from overuse) so the back nine wasn’t exactly great.   Unlike last year I didn’t have a chance to do a lot of gym work early so I feel like I’m behind the 8-ball a bit.  Played really good on the front nine but missed more than a few makeable putts.  Maybe not having feeling in my  hands didn’t help (and having people and animals look at me weird for choosing to wear shorts).