Course: Caroline Country Club
Tees: White (In front of tips)
Weather: 90 and Cloudy
Played With: Mark
Written By: Chris Conley
Rating: At bottom of Review
While researching courses to play, I never thought to look at a course 20 minutes from my house because it is known as a country club; on friday I was looking to play a late afternoon round after work and happened upon Caroline Country Club’s website. On the main page of their site, they advertised they were open to the public and monday-friday they have a $35 special which includes Golf, Cart and a voucher for snacks or food; the public is also welcome on the weekends as well for $45 which beats any golf price you’ll find on the Eastern Shore. I played this course in high school, as it was one of our opponents home course but it had been 16 years since I played it and I could only remember one hole, as far as layout goes. This course is really in the middle of Caroline County and unless you know where you are going, you wouldn’t know a course was even in the area; but if you do play the course, you won’t be disappointed. The course is a par 72, with bermuda fairways and bent grass greens, the greens were a little slow but in good condition.
When pulling up to the course the first thing you notice is the pool and tennis courts, making you realize this is in fact a country club; the driving range and the pool was being used by children of members and all were polite and acted as if they were at a golf course. The pro shop is on the smaller side but did seem to offer clubs, gloves, balls and even bags for sale, as well as offered clubs to demo on the course. We paid for golf and headed out to the range to warm up, a large bucket costs $5 (free to members); so this is not a fully stocked range but on a positive note it is a grass range you don’t have to hit off mats. The range is wide open and has enough room for about 20 golfers to warm up, and you can go through all your shots and warm up correctly. They also have a large putting green and even a practice bunker so you really can go through all the shots you want to before your round. Upon pulling up to the first tee we realized the best feature of it all, and hadn’t noticed it until getting out and ready to tee off; the carts had built in GPS systems in them. This was a great feature and something I really didn’t expect or see coming; the GPS had normal features, such as distance to green, different measurements about where hazards where on your shots etc. The GPS also had some features I hadn’t seen before, this was a touch screen so on your approach shot you could easily touch the green in the area the pin was placed and get exact measurements. I have also played on some courses that had GPS but were cart path only at all times, so it eliminated the use of the GPS, here it was 90 degrees and you could pull up next to your ball to get a true exact measurement. You could hit a fly over button before playing each hole, so you could see hidden hazards or hidden bunkers not visible because of a dog leg or elevation change; you could also order food from the GPS and it would be ready for you when you go to the club house at the turn or after your round.
We pulled up to the first tee and hit the fly over button on the GPS and were easily able to notice we could hit over the fairway bunker on the right and that showed how key the GPS would be for the whole round.
Hole 1: This is a shorter par 4, that has a fairway bunker on the right side of the fairway that you should be able to hit over, and be in prime position to attack this green. The green is surrounded by three bunkers and slopes from back to front so pay attention to where the flag is and try and be on the correct level.
Hole 2: This is a severe dog left leg, in which you need to place your tee shot to the right of the fairway to get a good angle at the green; don’t go to far down the fairway off the though as there is a large pond and environmental area that protects this green, so you might want to use a fairway wood of the tee box. Two small bunkers are in the front left and back right of this smaller sized green. The sprinkles were on in the middle of the fairway when we played this hole, as a large patch of fairway had been replanted and they were trying to help it grow.
Hole 3: This is a medium sized par 3, clocking in at about 165 yards from the white tee box; this is a large green and could take you up a club depending where the pin is on the green. There is water behind this green so don’t go to long or you will have a penalty stroke waiting for you.
Hole 4: Another short par 4, coming in at about 332 yards you will have a wedge or a chip left into this green if you hit your tee shot straight. The key to this hole is accuracy as woods line both sides of the fairway and bunkers surround this green.
Hole 5: A long par 4, that dog legs left and is surrounded by trees on both sides of the fairway. Try and stay right off the tee to have an angle into this slightly elevated green; you want to be on the right level of this green to make for an easier putt. This hole is rated as the hardest hole on the course and really promotes accuracy.
Hole 6: This is the first par 5 you will face for the day, and is reachable in two if you are accurate. Two fairway bunkers are on the left and right side of the fairway about where you will land your drive, and three small bunkers surround the green to intimidate you on your approach shot. This hole is only 466 yards, so it is only 40 yards longer the par 4 you just played so this hole is very scoreable if you play it right.
Hole 7: This is a difficult but short par 4, where you will want to take a fairway wood off the tee box to avoid putting your drive in the fairway/greenside pond. This hole disappears over the horizon, and with out the GPS we wouldn’t have realized there was a pond there, so if you hit a fairway wood you should be able to stop it before it hits the pond and have a wedge into the green. This fairway is very undulated and will certainly result in a ball above or below your feet for your approach shot.
Hole 8: A long par 5, with trouble in the form of trees placed in just the right areas to make it hard on the right. You want to stay left in this fairway, so you can avoid the trouble right and have a second shot that you don’t have to hit over a tree or over bunkers. This hole probably isn’t reachable in two, by many, you should have a small chip or wedge into this green that is sloped from back to front; stay below the hole for a nice uphill putt, hopefully for birdie.
Hole 9: This is the hole I remembered from high school, and short par 3 with the clubhouse to your right and a river running behind the green. This hole makes for great scenery and isn’t as easy at it looks; you normally have people watching your play this hole, as well as three bunkers around this green to make accuracy key to scoring low on this hole. The green is raised from the fairway and rough around it so if you miss the green you will have a chip or pitch uphill into a rather large green.
After playing the front nine, we realized we didn’t see any other golfers the entire time we were out there; it was as if we owned the course and while the course is normally busy according to Kelly in the pro shop, we came at the right time.
At the turn we came into get a Gatorade and hot dog, and we were surprised by the club house restaurant. The restaurant is a fully stocked bar with seating for probably close to 150 people, another sign this was a country club and members came here with their families for a nice meal. The voucher received with our round of golf for food, worked for a hot dog, Gatorade and bag of chips which was perfect after a tough front nine of golf.
Hole 10: The first hole on the back 9, is one of the widest fairways on the course, and is a 434 yard par 4. This is rated as the second hardest hole on the course, but if you hit your tee shot straight you should be able to hit about a 7-Iron into the green and escape with a par. The green is smaller and there are two bunkers around it, so I see why this is rated as the second hardest hole but in my opinion there were a few harder holes then this one.
Hole 11: Another shorter par 5, that dog legs right, if you can hit the ball left to right you will have a pretty good chance of reaching this green in two. There is a section of rough that cuts the fairway in two, right about where you would land your driver but if you get a could bounce you can hit into this green with a mid to long iron and have a chance at eagle. There are bunkers are all around this green, and it is a smaller green but if you land in a bunker you could still escape with a par.
Hole 12: A medium distance par 3, at about 160 yards you will be hitting into a green with large bunkers on the left and right. The rough around this green falls off on all sides so if you miss the green, you will be playing from a bunker or the ball will be well below the green on your chip. This is rated as the easiest hole on the course, and as long as you can hit your irons straight, I think it is rated correctly.
Hole 13: A long straight par 4, the biggest trouble here is the raised green that is very undulated. If you miss the green on your approach shot you are going to have a very difficult chip into this green depending where the pin is placed. This is rated as the sixth hardest hole on the course but I actually think it is harder than that.
Hole 14: This is short par 4, where you can’t hit driver because a water hazard crosses the fairway right where your drive would land if you hit driver. Your first shot on this hole is down hill and your second shot is back up hill. Avoid the water hazard and this hole isn’t to bad.
Hole 15: A short par 3, that plays normally at 155 yards, but was a tee box forward when we played at about 142 yards. This almost has the feel to an island or peninsula green because of the large lake in front of the green. You can be long on this hole with out trouble but you want to stay below of the hole, to have an uphill putt.
Hole 16: A very difficult, par 5 with trees lining both sides of this fairway; play your tee shot to the left of the fairway if possible to have a better angle at the green that is hidden by a greenside lake on the right and a large bunker on the left. This hole is reachable in two by bigger hitters, but is a very big risk/reward hole.
Hole 17: A short par 4 that fades to the left slight, avoid the fairway bunker on the right and the trees lining both sides of the fairway and you can really attack this hole.
Hole 18: A fitting end to the day, this 400 yard par 4 is lined with trees and has a fairway bunker on the right hand side of the fairway and two bunkers on the left and right of the green. If you can stay to the right side of this fairway without going in the fairway bunker you will have a good shot into this green, and end your round on a good note.
I was very pleased with the design and condition of Caroline Country Club; it was a spur of the moment decision and one that I am glad we made. The special they offer monday-thursday is a great deal for Eastern Shore golf and the course is difficult but fun. The theme to this course is trees, and they were everywhere; some holes are lined on both sides with trees and others have trees placed in specific places that dictate how you have to play the hole. Overall the course was in good condition, there were about 3 fairways that had been replanted in certain areas, but it looks like they have it under control and will be looking great in no time. I would recommend anyone who wants to have the feel of serenity and being lost in nature to play this course; houses are interwoven with the course but do so seamlessly, so you feel you are part of nature at all times.