Hollow Creek Golf Club (Middletown, MD on 07/05/15)

My friend and I picked Hollow Creek for our morning round because of the $40 green fee (riding). I had read some good things about the course online, although nothing recent. It seemed like a good deal, and I’m happy to say it was.

While researching the course, I noticed that there were two websites for it. I didn’t think much of it until we walked into the proshop and it was completely bare! No clubs, no clothing, nothing! That doesn’t factor into my opinion of a course, but if that matters to someone when they might want to think about delaying a trip to Hollow Creek. I did some reading and apparently the course recently changed ownership. In addition, I think the course was closed and just opened up again within a few weeks of us playing there.

For the most part, the ownership change didn’t have any affect on our round. I say “most part” because the proshop advised us that we get a free drop out of the bunkers. The bunkers must have been neglected while the course was closed so they were in poor condition. That didn’t bother me much besides the aesthetics weren’t what they could be. With time though, I’m sure the bunkers will get some attention. The rest of the course was in good shape for the price though! The greens held some footprints but rolled well for the most part and I felt like I could make some putts. The fairways and tees were lush and the rough was plenty long which put an emphasis on driving the ball well.

Hollow Creek was designed as a community course. The front nine meanders its way through a housing development while the back nine is more secluded playing near a creek and some wetlands. The homes are noticeable but they are set from the course and weren’t in play even on a couple foul balls! It still could be possible to put a ball in someone’s yard, but at least it seems some thought was given to the golfers and the homeowners with the routing. Fescue and planted trees add some of that separation from the homes.

Rick Jacobson designed Hollow Creek and it appears that he has done some other work in the Mid-Atlantic. I cannot say that I’m familiar with his designs as this is just the second course of his that I’ve played. We played the blue tees which play 72.9/139/6811 and I didn’t mind the course through the first 11 holes. It wasn’t going to win any best in state awards, but I thought that it was fair and interesting to play. However, the 12th through the 17th felt crammed onto the property. A few of those holes play along a creek and the other couple are in a valley between some homes so space is limited. I found these holes to be the toughest.

For a community course, there was more elevation change than I would expect. I’d compare it to Shadow Lakes or Deer Ridge (in Northern California) in that regards. The yardage wasn’t overwhelming and there was a nice mix of distances, including a couple risk/reward holes. I found most of the difficultly to be around the greens. The greens were just continuous slopes which made chipping and putting tough. It felt like there wasn’t much of a chance for my short game to save me! It seemed as if every long putt and chip had to go across a spine and had a foot of break.

Hollow Creek isn’t a course that I’d play much if I lived in the area. I thought it was a bit too tough and there was more target golf that I prefer. In our case, the course was in a perfect spot because it was close to where we were staying and where we were scheduled to play in the afternoon. We followed some foursomes around and it took a little over 4 hours which is respectable during the middle of a weekend morning. I wish the course and the new owners the best!

#1 (453 yard par 4):

The 1st hole is the longest par 4 on the course and it is the #1 handicap. It plays from an elevated tee so that means an offline shot just keeps going because of the hang time that the ball gets. I hit it in the rough off the tee and had a poor angle without many spots to miss on my approach. There is trouble short and left of the green and just a little room short and right. I’d like to see more than the ribbon of fairway short of the green.

1-1 1-2

#2 (524 yard par 5):

The 2nd is a par 5 that plays uphill to the green. It is important to avoid fairway bunkers to the right and left and the green has slopes that feed towards the center. I couldn’t see the green’s surface on my approach.

2-1 2-2

#3 (359 yard par 4):

The 3rd is a short par 4 that plays downhill. I hit my 210 yard club off the tee and had a short iron into the green. There are some bunkers and a couple trees that need to be avoided off the tee. A tee shot to the right could get a bounce left! This should be a good birdie or par chance.

3-1 3-2

#4 (171 yard par 3):

The 4th is the shortest par 3 on the course and plays across the same hazard that guards the 1st. The green has a back level which would have made the hole tougher. I thought that it played just enough uphill to affect the club selection or shot shape.

4-1 4-2

#5 (504 yard par 5):

The 5th is a short par 5 that could be reachable in two. It plays uphill so a couple solid hits would be needed, but the bigger hitters shouldn’t have any problems. The challenge is going to be finding the narrow fairway that snakes its way up to the green. There is a bunker that pinches the fairway and I decided to lay up short of it to play it as a three shot hole. If someone can carry that bunker (~240 yards I think) then they will have more options.

5-1 5-3

#6 (236 yard par 3):

The 6th is the longest par 3 on the course and it is could be the longest par 3 at most courses! It plays a bit downhill into a green that angles from front left to back right with some bunkers guarding both sides. The green is like a roller coaster which felt out of place considering the length of the hole. Short and left is the best place to play from around the green.

6-1 6-2

#7 (371 yard par 4):

The 7th isn’t too long on the scorecard, but it plays uphill which adds some yards. I hit a driver and was left with a short iron into the green so it was a chance to knock an approach close. The green’s surface cannot be seen from the fairway which makes it tough because there are plenty of humps and bumps on it.

7-1 7-2

#8 (377 yard par 4):

The 8th is one of the easier holes on the course because it isn’t too long and plays a touch downhill. The fairway narrows the farther that someone hits it and there are a couple bunkers that could come into play. I laid up off the tee to keep it short of the bunkers. The hole doesn’t open up as much to the right as it would seem, so be careful if trying to shorten the hole by picking a line to the right.

8-1 8-2

#9 (426 yard par 4):

The 9th is the #3 handicap and it sure is a tough one! The tee box is elevated and plays to a fairway that runs out into a ravine about 260 yards. The approach is all carry over the hazard and it is plays from a downhill, and possibly sidehill, lie. The deep green slopes severely from back to front and I thought that much of the green unusable when it came to pin locations. The flag was stuck in the middle of a slope when we played. There is a small section of fairway at the bottom of the ravine near a creek which seemed out of place.

9-1 9-2 9-3

#10 (515 yard par 5):

The back nine starts out with a potentially reachable par 5. It doglegs right, mostly on the second shot. Off the tee I’d suggest playing to the left side of the fairway because that is the higher side of the fairway. The ball could get a favorable bounce over there and that will lead to a clearer view on the next shot. A bunker narrows the tee shot and there are more bunkers that can affect the layup.

10-1 10-2

#11 (198 yard par 3):

The 11th is a long par 3 which could require a draw or a fade depending on the pin location. A pin on the right side of the green is going to be tougher to get at because of a bunker and that section of green is higher. A flag in the middle of the green, like the one we got, should be pretty accessible even with a long iron. Missing the green a bit short and/or left is probably the best place to chip from.

11-1 11-2

#12 (356 yard par 4):

The 12th is the shortest par 4 on the course, but I had fits with it. There is trouble all down the left side and trees pinch the tee shot to the right. The fairway widens the farther that someone hits it so even though it is a short hole, I felt like I had to hit a driver. I like short holes with options off the tee and didn’t feel like I could make a layup work equally well. The good news is that there is more room to the right than there looks and a couple bunkers down the right side to catch stray shots.

12-1 12-2

#13 (381 yard par 4):

The 13th is my least favorite hole on the course because it felt squished onto the property. The tee shot is semi-blind and there are hazards left and right of the fairway. If you look at the satellite of the hole you will get an idea of how narrow the fairway is in comparison to the other holes, especially in the driving area. It cannot be more than 10 or 15 yards wide. To do over, I would have hit a layup off the tee to give myself the best chance to find it. The approach plays into a green with a couple bunkers short. Make sure not to hit it over the green.

13-1

#14 (407 yard par 4):

The 14th doesn’t have any tricks! It is a straightaway par 4 and has a fairway that slides to the right in-between some bunkers. The fairway slopes slightly from left to right and there is some back to front slope in the green that can be used to spin an approach close to that front flag.

14-1 14-2

#15 (386 yard par 4):

The 15th is an uphill, narrow-looking par 4. There is more fairway out there than it appears and you might be able to get a favorable kick from just left of the fairway. The approach played a club uphill for me into a green with a bunch of slope. I’ve got a decent shot game, but didn’t feel like I had a great chance of getting the ball up and down from an easier spot.

15-1

#16 (186 yard par 3):

The 16th is the last par 3 on the course and it isn’t too difficult considering the yardage. It played a club downhill into a green with places to miss. A miss short of the green will end up in the fairway and a miss left will leave a chip from the rough. Don’t miss the green long or right.

16-1 16-2

#17 (446 yard par 4):

The 17th is a long par 4 and the #2 handicap. It is one where things can go wrong with a crooked tee shot from the elevated tee. The fairway is generous though. The difficultly, especially if not playing from the fairway, is on the approach which plays over the creek again. The green rises up in the front and flattens towards the back so it could be tough to land the approach, or even a pitch, in the right spot to have it roll close.

17-1 17-2

#18 (515 yard par 5):

The 18th is a closing par 5 which is something that I enjoy! It doglegs left around some bunkers and a more aggressive line might carry them. A lake to the left can affect layups and those going for the green in two. If someone can get it short and right of the green in two (short of a bunker) then that looked like a pretty good spot to play from. There is some risk/reward to close out the round which I think makes for a good last hole!

18-1 18-2

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