My mom and I did some sightseeing up in Pennsylvania over the holiday weekend. We went to Gettysburg, Valley Forge, and did some touristy things in Amish country. Of course I brought the clubs so I scurried to find a place to play after dropping her off at the airport!
I had a couple rounds penciled in near York, PA on Tuesday and headed that way after leaving Baltimore Washington Airport. It was late in the day and I wasn’t looking to play anywhere fancy as I probably wasn’t going to finish the whole round. The course options off of I-83 didn’t look plentiful and Greystone looked like my best bet! It is only 10 or so minutes off the interstate and gets ranked favorably by the golf publications. I rolled the dice to walk on. Be careful on the drive because there are some blind intersections on the roads leading to the course!
My plan worked as the parking lot was pretty empty and I got out right away! I think I got the super, super twilight rate of $28 which included a cart. Therefore, it wasn’t the biggest deal to me if I completed the round. I teed off around 5pm hoping the storms would stay away and hoping to beat the setting sun!
After playing the first few holes, I thought geez, Greystone sure looks a lot like Musket Ridge! For those who don’t know, Musket Ridge is another course in Maryland about an hour away. It is set on similar terrain and come to find out, designed by the same guy! That “guy” is Joe Lee. I thought his name sounded familiar and I guess it should, as he has designed over 100 courses. For whatever reason, I’m not as familiar with his courses as I probably should be considering that he has worked on some big name courses!
If you’ve played Musket Ridge then you’ll probably recall that the course has an open feel to it given that it is in a hilly area. There aren’t any ridiculous elevation changes or unfair lies. That same open, fair routing is going to be my biggest compliment to Lee at Greystone! Because of the severe terrain, he easily could have hung holes off hillsides here to create a mountain course or routed a bunch of holes through the trees. Instead, many holes play on top of a ridgeline or in a hilly, meadow area with plenty of grass to find a ball. Only a couple holes play through the woods. As a designer, he seems to have a knack for allowing the best views of the area and of other golf holes. This isn’t your traditional tree lined Mid-Atlantic course!
The similarities between Musket Ridge and Greystone don’t stop with the routing of the courses. They continue in regards to playability and yardage choice for the different holes. For reference, I played the Black tees which are 72.5/139/6600. If you read my review of Musket Ridge you’ll see that I mentioned it has a bazillion bunkers. That’s the case here at Greystone too! Yes, the bunkers make the course look nice and force you to pick some lines, but the course seemed over-bunkered to me. Bunkers are difficult to maintain, take a long time to rake, and difficult for the average golfer to play from. Since the course is operated by the county, you probably get some more casual golfers who aren’t familiar with golf etiquette. I noticed several that weren’t raked very well. My one complaint about Greystone is all the bunkers; they are deep too!
For the most part, Greystone is friendly off the tee as it allows you to find a lot of tee shots. Don’t expect average drives to find the fairway though! I drove it great and still missed my share of the narrow fairways. The fairways tend to pinch in the driving areas and around the corners of the doglegs. I paced off one and it was only 20 yards wide! You are going to need to throw darts with the irons too as there are narrow sections of the greens that are maybe 15 to 20 feet wide. There is a nice mix of different sized greens too, but the strokes added up quickly even though I was playing well with all the tiny targets. As I mentioned, the yardages vary nicely on all the holes and the course has five par 5’s and five par 3’s (my favorite). If you are a fader like me, be prepared for a handful of difficult tee shots.
When it comes to signature holes, the 8th is it! It is a longish par 3 that plays downhill to a green guarded by hazards on either side. To the left is water and to the right are trees. There is no place to bailout either, unless you want to hit a bunker shot towards the water! There could be some strategy involved though as the green is narrow at the front and wider at the back, probably triple the width I’d guess. I intentionally took an extra club and played to the back edge of the green hoping to eliminate as much of the water as possible. It worked and I ended up just over the back of the green!
The 10th is another standout hole, but for its strategy. It is a double dogleg par 5 that goes left off the tee and then back to the right. I pulled my drive and ended up in a deep fairway bunker, forcing me to hit just a wedge out of it. Carrying those fairway bunkers is ideal and the bigger hitters should give it a try. Even if you don’t go for the green in two it might be worth it to play green high and left which will leave a simpler pitch shot. There are all sorts of lines available which could lead to a birdie or better!
I looked at the website before playing and thought that Greystone was a city course. I didn’t know that it was a county course until typing my blog, but either way I didn’t expect the maintenance to be perfect when I pulled into the parking lot. The only quibble that I have are the greens, which were slower than they looked and bumped just enough that I couldn’t slam home any putts. It wasn’t awful by any means but asking $76 (with a cart) during a weekend morning doesn’t make Greystone a value course. As a comparison, I paid around the same price the next day in Pennsylvania for two rounds and was treated to outstanding surfaces! The course is all bent grass which I love and it has grown in everywhere, there weren’t any bare spots. It drained well and the fairways and tees were cut short. The rough was thick, but I was able to slash at least a mid iron from the rough. It does appear that the course gets a lot of play as there were plenty of divots.
I had no expectations of golfing today, so it turned out to be a fantastic holiday afternoon! The storms stayed away and I cruised around the course in 3 hours and 15 minutes, finishing before darkness fell. Because it was Memorial Day, the course had the American flags on display! I’ve seen this before and always enjoy them, especially on every hole instead of just a couple sprinkled throughout the course. For a county course, Greystone features an impressive design and better than average conditions. I don’t think it is worth the peak green fee, but I think that about almost every course!
#1 (534 yard par 5):
#2 (420 yard par 4):
#3 (202 yard par 3):
#4 (422 yard par 4):
#5 (532 yard par 5):
#6 (340 yard par 4):
#7 (379 yard par 4):
#8 (181 yard par 3):
#9 (426 yard par 4):
#10 (495 yard par 5):
#11 (394 yard par 4):
#12 (146 yard par 3):
#13 (492 yard par 5):
#14 (143 yard par 3):
#15 (326 yard par 4):
#16 (206 yard par 3):
#17 (411 yard par 4):
#18 (560 yard par 5):