Course: Whiskey Creek Golf Club
Location: Ijamsville, MD
Driving Range: Yes, included with round; mats.
Tee info: Black (7001; 74.6/138); Blue (6525; 72.1/136); White (5979; 69.3/129); Red (5296; 70.5/121)
Written By: Colin Murray
Whiskey Creek is located about 20min outside of the Frederick, MD area in a town called Ijamsville. The course is not far off I-70 so is easily accessible. It opened in 2000, and was designed in collaboration with J. Michael Poellot and Ernie Els. Having Els’ name on the course definitely brings some status to it, and the course layout and condition definitely lives up to that status. It is built in the Maryland countryside, and the scenery is breathtaking, overlooking the Catoctin and Blue Ridge Mountains on some holes. The course is relatively narrow, with tree lined fairways, uphills and downhills from both the tee and on approach, sharp doglegs, and extra-thick rough; needless to say a premium is put on being in the fairway. Because of the rolling hills, you will definitely be playing at least a club length or two more or less on several holes. Thankfully, the carts have GPS monitors that display distances to hazards, fairway edges, and more so you can always accurately know how far out you are. The signature hole on this course is the 18th, as it has the ruins of a 19th-century stone house in the middle of the fairway and the approach is over water & bunkers with the clubhouse in the background.
As mentioned above, the electric carts all have GPS monitors, which is especially handy on a course layout like this. The clubhouse is one of the best I’ve seen in a very long time. There is a full restaurant inside that has menu options for all three meals, including a daily chef’s special. There is seating outside on the patio that overlooks the scenic 18th green. At the turn, I ordered a hotdog, which was large and tasty, but also pricey at $5.50. The bar area has several beers on tap, and also has many liquor options as well. The pro-shop inside the clubhouse goes beyond the standard last-minute needs and offers clubs, shirts, shoes, hats, and more. Staff greets you at your car with a cart, and washes your clubs as you are finishing on the 18th green. The driving range is located on the far side of the clubhouse, and balls are included with your round. The course website is also top-notch, giving a hole-by-hole breakdown of the course and some good info on the FAQ section.
The opening hole is a challenging one that features a dogleg right that will favor those with a left-to-right ball path. There are fairway bunkers to catch errant tee shots, and the rough here is extra thick so be prepared to take at least one additional club. Bunkers also surround the green, which features a 19th century stone barn as the backdrop. Hole 2 features a wide landing area that plays uphill to the green. Take enough club to clear the bunkers in the front-right of the green, which are definitely in play if your tee shot is in the right side of the fairway. Hole 3 is a long par 3 that is just under 200yds from the tips, but plays uphill so will require an extra club off the tee. Hole 4 is the 1hdcp hole, and is a long par-5 that plays uphill to the green from the tee shot landing area. As the website notes, this is the widest fairway on the course, measuring about 70ds, so grip it and rip it. Getting home in two is likely not possible, so choose the right club that will put you only a wedge away from GIR. Don’t go long on your approach however, as trees and brush are present only 10yds from the back of the green. Hole 5 is a great risk-reward hole. First, be sure to take in the sights from the tee box. Playing downhill, it overlooks the countryside and the Catoctin & Blue Ridge Mountains. The downhill is significant however: a fully 100yds. The hole also doglegs to the left, so you have an option of playing it safe and putting your tee shot with an iron into the middle of the fairway, or trying to cut the turn or possibly even fly the trees on the left. The green is small, with rocks and thick grass behind it so precision is key here. Hole 9 is a good scoring opportunity, as long hitters can reach the green in two if played right. A large tree is set in the middle of the fairway and may intimidate lesser-skilled players in fear of hitting it, but don’t take too much stock in that as there are ways around and over it, especially since the top of the tree is almost at eye-level from the tee box. Thick trees line the far right of the fairway, so if you are a fader/slicer, be sure to aim far enough left to compensate. The second shot plays downhill, and must avoid a bunker that is about 50yds from the green. There is more reward than risk, so if you’ve got the distance, go for it.
After some downhill shots to end the front 9, hole10 starts back uphill with a dogleg left. Even from the tips it is well under 400yds, so a driver is not necessary. A 3W will leave you with a short iron or wedge approach. Hole 11 is the 18hdcp, but don’t be fooled – this is no easy task. One of the course’s signature holes, the entire lower-right side is one giant bunker. Left of the green is a sharp uphill slope that will leave a difficult chip, as the green runs towards the right side. Par is a good score here. Hole 14 is another that plays downhill to the fairway from the tee box. Water is on the left, and the fairway is not very wide. Hole 15 is a long par-3, playing 222yds from the tips. Be sure to take the right club, as water is between the tee and green, so anything that falls short is likely to get wet. Hole 16 is a long, straight par-5 that plays uphill to the green, with bunkers protecting the front. Getting home in two is not likely, since the uphill approach will make it difficult to stick a long-iron/hybrid or 3W. Lay-up, and give yourself an easy wedge into the green. The finishing hole is the signature of this course: a par-5 that has a 19th-century stone house right in the middle of the fairway, and an approach that will need to carry both water and bunkers in the front of the green. It is very picturesque, with the clubhouse in view from the landing area. There are several ways to play this hole, depending on how much risk you want. Going left of the stone house will give the player an attempt at green-in-two, however that requires a well-struck tee shot since it sits about 275yds from the tips. Going right of the house will likely limit the player to laying up further down the fairway, which will leave less than 150yds to the green; just don’t forget about the water and bunkers.
This is definitely the nicest and most picturesque course I’ve ever played. The scenery is amazing, and the variety of the holes makes it quite challenging, yet the opportunities for scoring are there. Be aware of the right club to hit, as many of the holes will require a club up or down depending on the elevation change. Depending on the tee box played, driver might not be necessary on many of the holes (particularly the whites). A premium is placed on getting in the fairway, as the thick rough and many trees will cause difficult second shots or penalties for lost balls. I was impressed from beginning to end.