Our afternoon round was at PB Dye Golf Club. Normally when booking tee times I try to play a more premium course in the afternoon to save some cash. My friend and I had Whiskey Creek on the schedule for Sunday afternoon, hopefully I will be playing Musket Ridge later this month, and I’ve played Worthington Manor and Maryland National. I’m always looking to play a “new” course and process of elimination left PB Dye Golf Club as one in the area that I hadn’t played.
PB Dye is the son of famous golf course architect, Pete Dye. If you’ve read my posts you’ll know that I don’t care for Pete Dye designs. I’ve only played a couple PB designs so I don’t have enough information to make up my mind. Unfortunately, for my liking and my scorecard, this course played eerily similar to something that I could see Pete designing. I’m not sure if this course was designed a tribute to Pete or what, but if you don’t like Pete Dye designs then make sure to stay far away!
The first thing to know about the course is that it is visually stunning. The setting is spectacular and the aesthetics on many holes are impressive! The course isn’t too far from I-270 but you’d never know of the nearby interstate because of the hilly terrain. Before checking in, I walked out to the area where the carts are staged for a panoramic picture. Much of the course has an open feel to it and from the clubhouse, multiple holes are visible with the tree covered hills off in the distance. Once on the course, the “wow” factor continued. Railroad ties framed shots while mounding and elaborate bunkers created some very interesting looking holes. There is even a “volcano” bunker on one hole. For someone who has never played the game, I could see all these features maybe being able to spark their interest.
Unfortunately, for those who do play the game, I found the course to be extremely difficult. We played the Gold tees which play 72.2/136/6724. In my opinion, the numbers don’t seem to indicate just how tough the course plays. The course has an exorbitant number of blind shots, which are one of my least favorite design features. I faced blind tee shots, layups, approaches, and pitches. There are some hidden hazards and plenty of forced carries which I think only hurts the average golfer. After multiple holes, I had the thought that I would have liked to have hit different shots or played the hole differently.
If someone hits the fairway, I think that person should be rewarded. In two instances, I hit the fairway (after decent drives) and I had very little chance of getting the approach correct. In one situation, the best shot was a high long iron from a downhill lie. The other required a draw from a fade lie to use the angle of the green. I’ve been playing some good golf recently and my handicap is under 3, but I don’t have any consistency hitting those type of shots. It didn’t any easier around the greens either. Many greens had severe fall offs into chipping areas or rises of three or four feet in them which created the need for some silly short game shots.
The conditions were another thing that frustrated me. I called shortly before our trip to see when the course was aerating the greens. Nothing was planned until August, but when we got there we noticed that the greens had holes in them. It appears that the course recently aerated the greens with the small tines. It only caused a few putts to bump offline, but it affected the speed. The greens were slower than Glade Valley and we played that course in the rain! To make it worse the green pellets were dumped into the rough on some holes which affected chipping. I was also disappointed with all the divots in the fairways. The rough was thick, maybe a bit too thick for weekend play because it slowed us down looking for a ball.
Most golfers are going to struggle here. If you can tolerate it, the aesthetics are great. The course isn’t my cup of tea and it isn’t one in the area that I’d go back and play again. From what I can find online, the course tries to bill itself as a premium course. We paid $51 which is probably a decent afternoon rate considering the setting and some of unique features that the course offers. That is the maximum that I’d pay to play here, even with better conditions. I’m not sure if it was the weather or the holiday that kept people away, but we cruised around in 3 hours and 15 minutes.
#1 (382 yard par 4):
The 1st hole is one of the shorter par 4’s on the course. The fairway is large and it plays downhill so on paper it shouldn’t be too difficult. There are fairway bunkers to the right and challenging them can leave a shorter second shot. The flag was in the front of the green when we played and right behind it was a valley. I could see just a little of that from the fairway and tried to get too precise on my approach.
#2 (133 yard par 3):
The 2nd is a short par 3 that is all carry to the green. That shouldn’t be a big deal because it most likely will be a short iron. Missing short of the green can leave a very awkward stance. You can see the elaborate use of railroad ties off in the distance that partially surround the green complex. The left side of the green has a higher plateau so someone might be able to use the slope to get it close to a right flag.
#3 (509 yard par 5):
The 3rd, at 509 yards, is actually the longest par 5 on the course. That is a bit unusual considering that these tees play ~6,700 yards. This dogleg left could be reachable, but someone is going to have to challenge that tree and then hit a high, long club from a downhill lie. The fairway is wide, but the landing area is completely blind. The best shot is going to be a draw over or around that tree. I suppose the bigger hitters could run out of fairway. I hit a 3 wood to play it as a three shot hole. The third shot played from an uphill lie into a green with a narrower, back tier. That was another blind shot and I played an extra club.
#4 (400 yard par 4):
The 4th is a mid-length par 4 with a blind tee shot. There are a couple bunkers and a grass bunker off to the right but I would swing confidently and aim straight. There should be fairway up there. The approach plays a bit downhill into a green with a ridge in the middle. The ridge allows pins in the lower, front half of the green to be more accessible while pins in the back will be tougher to play to. I hit my approach from 140 yards and I couldn’t see a water hazard hidden to the right of the green. It is located just over a bunker and it looked like an extension of the bunker or a grass bunker.
#5 (454 yard par 4):
The 5th is a long par 4 that plays downhill and moves a little left. The landing area is semi-blind depending on how far someone hits it and the fairway is stepped. I hit a good drive and was faced with a long iron into a bunkerless green. My second shot played from a downhill slope and there is open fairway short of the green. Normally, I’d say well done to the designer here for allowing me the chance to run a long iron up onto the green. I’ll have to save my praise for someone else because, except for the very left side of the fairway, everything slopes hard to the right. That means shots that don’t carry onto the front of the green probably aren’t going to end up on the surface. Plus, the front section of green runs towards the back so it isn’t receptive to long irons.
#6 (462 yard par 4):
The 6th is the longest par 4 on the course and it is the hardest hole. It plays up the same rise that the 5th just dropped down so it almost plays like one of the par 5’s distance-wise. The fairway widens the farther that someone hits it off the tee and the green has three or four stepped tiers. If someone is out of position off the tee then it requires a good decision and a good shot to get it back in play. I tried to layup to a right section of fairway short of the green for a better angle and didn’t pull it off. In my opinion, this is one of the better designed holes on the course.
#7 (495 yard par 5):
The 7th is a short par 5 that could be reachable after a good drive. The fairway continues to narrow until it runs out into a creek that is short of the green. My tee shot ended up on the left side of the fairway and I had a blind layup. The third plays from a downhill lie and through a narrow gap onto the green. A novelty feature, a volcano bunker, is off the right side of the fairway. I’m not sure how much it comes into play, but it looked like it wouldn’t be much fun to play from.
#8 (210 yard par 3):
The 8th is the longest par 3 on the course. It plays uphill into a severe green complex. The green falls off into chipping areas and there are three sections to the green, including a back left section. I couldn’t see the back left section when I was chipping from 20 yards.
#9 (416 yard par 4):
The 9th is the #3 handicap and it is a demanding hole. The tee shot is blind and plays to a narrowing fairway with grass bunkers off to the right. The approach is played into a narrow, two-tiered green with water just off the right edge.
#10 (323 yard par 4):
The 10th is the shortest par 4 on the course, but it isn’t easy. The tee shot looks intimidating because of the trees to the right, but it opens up a lot. The severely sloping fairway is wide and flanked by bunkers on each side. The hole doglegs right so I hit my driver trying to get it as far up the fairway as possible. That worked out well as I left myself a flatter lie and better view of the green. Unfortunately, I still faced an uneven lie into a green with a ridge in the middle of it. I caught it a little thin and my ball bounded over the back of the green and into a low area. The green’s surface probably won’t be visible after a tee shot to the right half of the fairway. I don’t see a huge advantage to laying up off the tee.
#11 (157 yard par 3):
The 11th is the signature hole at PB Dye and it was my favorite. It played about a club downhill into a green with water short and left. You’ll notice the railroad ties surrounding the green which I think adds a nice look. There is room to miss out to the right, just don’t expect anything to the left to stay dry. A drop area is located on the other side of the hazard which should help speed up play.
#12 (507 yard par 5):
The 12th is a pretty goofy hole if you ask me! The tee shot is completely blind which made it impossible to visualize what I wanted to do. There is a marker to aim at and the fairway is one of the widest on the course so at least there isn’t any hidden trouble. If not going for the green in two then there is a decision to be made on the layup which may have to carry a creek. It could be a long carry to get over the creek and the fairway runs out quite a bit short of it. For those that like to leave 100 to 125 yards into a par 5 for their third, don’t try for it because there isn’t any fairway there. The large green is a bit of a head scratcher with a large rise to a back tier.
#13 (411 yard par 4):
The 13th is a mid-length par 4 that moves a little right. Depending on how far the tee shot is hit, the green can be obstructed from view. It is a forced carry over a small hazard to the green.
#14 (185 yard par 3):
The 14th is a long par 3 that has a massive green. It played about a club downhill into a three tiered green. It may not be the most difficult task to hit the green in regulation, but two putting it could be!
#15 (409 yard par 4):
The 15th is mid-length par 4 that plays longer than the yardage because it is uphill. It is a long carry to the fairway which moves to the right and I wouldn’t expect much roll once the ball lands. The green’s surface cannot be seen from the fairway and I added an extra club to get pin high. The green falls off around it into chipping areas and it is narrower towards the front. My $0.02 is that the green complex is designed to receive a shot iron, not a mid or long one. That’s probably why it is the #2 handicap though.
#16 (385 yard par 4):
I found the 16th interesting and fun to play. It moves a little right around a bunch of fairway bunkers that are slightly below fairway level. That had me trying to pick the correct line to carry some of them and shape it left to right. It might be just a layup club off the tee to find the fairway. The approach plays into an unusually designed green with railroad ties guarding the left side. The only thing that I didn’t care for was that the fairway sloped from left to right while the green was designed to receive a draw. That just isn’t a high percentage shot for amateur play.
#17 (477 yard par 5):
The 17th is the shortest par 5 on the course and a chance for a birdie with a decent tee shot. It plays uphill and a tree to the right of the fairway could affect some second shots. Off the tee, the right side of the fairway is lower.
#18 (409 yard par 4):
The 18th is another blind tee shot and forced carry into the green. The fairway widens towards the green so there is plenty of space. The green is guarded by water to the left and a left flag could cause some nightmares!