Any time I do a course review, I try to write this for someone who hasn’t played the course, and try, to the extent possible, to present factual and balanced information about the course. So here goes.

Timbers at Troy is located in Elkridge, MD and is a partnership between Howard County with the course managed by Kemper Sports Management. The course has been open since the very early 2000’s (I played my first round there in 2003 and still have the scorecard-I have all my scorecards so when the Golf Channel starts their “Golf Hoarders” show…look me up).

For various reasons, Timbers has fallen off my rota of courses that I play, largely due to conditioning and their attitude about single golfers like myself. Even trying to get a tee time is brutally hard (their tee sheet the day I played was wide open…but if you’re a single…not happening). Nonetheless, I walked on and hoped for the best. The guy in the pro shop was friendly enough and got me on my way. There was no starter, so went off.

Unlike most courses, Timbers at Troy doesn’t give you a handshake hole; they give you a toughie from the start- a tight long par 4 with woods to the right and trees left. The day I played I noticed signs up touting that they were starting a project to improve their bunkers (good on them- their bunkers are currently in dire need of repair- you can argue about what kind of condition bunkers should be in- if you want to go the “natural” look I’m all for it…but if you’re going with a traditional tree-lined parkland course…they shouldn’t be like hitting out of rock-strewn paste). The second hole is a dogleg par 5; after that a couple short par 4’s before you hit their “signature” hole, a medium length par 3 that’s all carry over an environmental area. The 9th is a brutish par 5 with a semi-blind second shot uphill to an elevated landing area.

The day I played, the course was in mixed condition. Several fairways had clearly not fared well with the summer (June was one thunderstorm after another, July was all over the board and August has gone from cool to hot and back to cool). Despite this, I’ve played several tracks this month that are in much better condition. Greens were mixed as well- on some holes there were great, others they were a touch bumpy. I don’t know their aeration schedule but it’s probably happening later this month (their website didn’t have any information on this; if you plan on going my advice is to ask).

The back nine starts off with a brutish par 4 that requires a second shot over a hazard/environmental area to an uphill green. For me the best hole on the back 9 is 17; a dogleg par 5 that plays downhill and has a man-made lake on the left side of the green. A definite birdie opportunity and also a chance to ruin your round (everything a good par 5 should be). 18 is a longish par 4 that plays uphill (and longer). You can score here and make a number, but get wild off the tee and you can easily make double bogey or worse. You don’t need Tour length. You need acccuracy.

The problem with this, as you might imagine, is that pace of play can be diabolical on weekends (or anytime the course is busy). One thing they used to do (their new scorecards don’t have this) is a recommended tee box by handicap index; I’ve seen 20-handicappers play this course from the tips (it’s one of the places six hour rounds come from). The blue tees are just over 6100 yards and will give most golfers plenty of challenge (at that you’re looking at a 70.8 rating and a 134 slope).

The course has a pro shop that has hats, balls, shirts, and a few other items for sale. There’s a snack bar that has what you’d expect (nothing fancy but it’s perfunctory).

Timbers will always be a special place for me; my career best round came there (a 73 a few years ago), but like many things, it’s changed. I wish them well and hope that their renovations bode well and they end up with a course in tip-top condition. But given the options available to me, I just don’t know how many more times I want to be treated like a third class citizen because I’m a single (if you don’t want to take tee times for singles, follow the PB Dye example and spell it out).

Plus, if you’re sending people out in the morning on the back 9, they better be able to keep up (the day I played they put a bunch of slow-moving types…and just like that, things back up and your pace of play grinds to a halt). Your time par in the morning should be a lot faster than during middle of the day.

If you’re playing as a twosome, you could do a lot worse than Timbers at Troy. There are some fun holes, and most of the people I’ve met there are friendly and want to be helpful. You might do better but you could do worse.