Mid-Atlantic Region: Best of 2002

By Jake Schaller, Contributor

LEESBURG, Va. -- Since the early 1990s, high-end, daily-fee golf courses have popped up across the Mid-Atlantic Region -- many to rave reviews, and all to the open arms of area players.

The new courses have provided a welcome tonic for those who do not belong to country clubs, but they also have created fierce battles for the daily-fee golfer's time. In response to the competition, many courses have upgraded their tracks and splurged on accoutrements. Quality dining, state-of-the-art practice facilities and spacious locker rooms now accompany manicured greens and fairways.

Thanks in large part to the proliferation of these quality daily-fee courses, the golf in the Mid-Atlantic Region -- both private and public -- has improved dramatically. Now picking the best course, or even the top handful of courses, in the region seems as difficult as picking the best pub in Ireland.

So while we aren't ready to take on that task just yet, TravelGolf.com has assembled a list of some of the best parts of golf courses in the region. Enjoy. And let us know what you think we missed.

Best Clubhouse Stonewall (Gainesville, Va.) The 13,000-square-foot facility reminds many of an 18th century colonial mansion. Inside you will find a golf shop, complimentary locker rooms with showers, the Brass Cannon Restaurant, a private dining room and the Magnolia Room, which can accommodate 150 to 250 people for a formal dinner or reception, respectively. The Magnolia room offers views of Lake Manassas and a patio overlooking the 18th green. There is also a fireplace lounge and a bar.

Best Golf Course Practice Facility Kinloch Golf Club (Manakin-Sabot, Va.) A local golf executive who recently practiced at Kinloch said, "It's like being on a golf course." The practice facility at Kinloch features simulated on-course situations that let you practice nearly every aspect of your game. There are two chipping/pitching greens and two large putting greens. The long-game practice area has two large, bent-grass practice tees. Titleist balls are available to hit, and there are so many target greens you can simulate almost any type of approach shot.

Best Greens The Cascades Course at The Homestead (Hot Springs, Va.) Fast and in pristine condition. Simply one of the best golf courses in the entire country offers some of the truest-rolling greens you'll find anywhere. The Cascades, which opened in 1923 and has hosted seven USGA Championships, was built without altering the setting, so the holes fit in their mountain surroundings like pieces of a puzzle.

Best Golf Course for Women Stoneleigh Golf Club (Round Hill, Va.) The forward tees at Stoneleigh put women on equal footing with men. They take some of the bite out of the forced carries and offer plenty of shot options. A woman who recently played Stoneleigh said she felt welcomed and thought women were not an "afterthought" in the design of the course.

Best Golf Shop Landsdowne Golf Club (Leesburg, Va.) A high-quality shop with excellent customer service, it is exactly what you would hope for at a golf resort. There is an extensive selection of apparel and logoed items with surprisingly good deals and frequent sales.

Best Restaurant The Restaurant at Bulle Rock (Havre de Grace, Md.) Offers everything from a casual sandwich to an elegant dinner. There are a variety of appetizers and salads along with a full dinner menu that includes an extensive collection of seafood. Crab cakes and seared shrimp and scallops appear on the menu and can be accompanied by a quality bottle of wine. Wine Spectator has recently recognized it as having ". . . One of the Most Outstanding Wine Lists in the World."

Best Place for a Post-Round Beer The porch on the clubhouse at Whiskey Creek (Ijamsville, Md.) It should be a requirement that all clubhouse restaurants or lounges overlook the 18th green and/or first tee. After a round at Whiskey Creek, players can relax on a wooded porch that wraps around three sides of the course's rustic and charming clubhouse. It offers not only stunning vistas of the Frederick countryside but views of the 9th and 18th greens. The 18th green, a classic risk-reward par-5, is the most fun to watch with a cold pint in hand.

Best Surrounding Views Musket Ridge (Myersville, Md.) One of several new, high-end, daily-fee offerings in Frederick County, the Joe Lee-designed course sits on top of a ridge and offers sweeping views of the Catoctin Mountains, the Blue Ridge and the Frederick countryside. Lee calls Musket Ridge "the best piece of property I have ever had the privilege of working for."

Best Par-3 No. 11 at Swan Point Yacht and Country Club (Issue, MD) Though it measures just 168 yards from the tips, the 11th is Swan Point's No. 2 handicap hole. Frequent wind can drastically alter the length of a shot that appears as intimidating as any hole in the area. Standing on the tee box, all you see is wetlands in front of the green, which is guarded on three sides by a bunker.

Best Par-4 No. 2 at Augustine Golf Club One of the top new courses in the Mid-Atlantic Region doesn't wait to wow you. The 456-yard par-4 second hole at Augustine is breathtaking for both its beauty and difficulty. A long lake runs down the entire left side of the fairway, while woods guard the right.

Best Par-5 No. 16 at Back Creek Golf Club (Middletown, DE) The 540-yarder is the best hole on a course that has been listed on Golfweek magazine's Top 100 Modern designs. Extremely strategic, the 16th starts with a demanding tee shot. There is not much room for error with water along the left side of the hole and wetlands on the right.

Best Courses

Augustine (540) 720-7374
Rum Pointe (Near OC)
Lighthouse Sound (OC)
Bulle Rock
Whiskey Creek
Queenstown Harbor
Musket Ridge
The Gauntlet
The Homestead (The Cascades)
Raspeberry Falls (703) 779-2555

Jake Schaller, Contributor

Jake Schaller resides in the Adams Morgan section of Washington, D.C. He grew up in Bethesda, Md., where he attended Walt Whitman High School and played football.

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