Venue for the US Senior Open in 2002 when Don Pooley beat Tom Watson after a five-hole playoff, the Tom Fazio-designed course at Caves Valley Golf Club sits amidst the rolling hills of Baltimore County with many of the fairways routed through rather attractive areas of woodland.
The 11th edition of the Palmer Cup (an annual 8-man competition between American and European college/university golfers) was contested here in 2007 when the home team won the event by a score of 18 points to 6 points.
The two par threes on the front nine are real standouts, both of them protected by water: the 224-yard 4th plays to the largest putting surface on the course with a bail out to the right of the green whilst a couple of menacing bunkers flank the left side of the green at the 215-yard 8th.The round concludes with a couple of very strong par fours: the 480-yard 17th doglegs slightly right to an offset green that sits behind a cluster of bunkers, followed by the 460-yard 18th, where the well-bunkered home green is positioned above a small gulley to the front left of the hole.
When I discussed ‘favourite holes’ with the members, number 8 and 12 were mentioned most. For the scratch golfer, the par 4 11th hole offers a stern test. It plays 440 yards to a dog-leg right fairway that rises up 50 feet to a severely contoured green. Take your par and run. The driveable par 4 14th hole begins the home stretch which includes the strong & long par 4s 16th, 17th & 18th. From a championship course perspective (Caves hosted 2002 Senior US Open), the finishing stretch will have to be tamed in order to lift a trophy. The bunker complexes get bigger and more aggressive in the fairways as you make your way back to the clubhouse and really demand picture perfect ball-striking. Overall, I left the course thinking that Fazio had created a well sculpted course, although the more Fazio courses I play, they begin to feel the same and lose their memorability. The clubhouse and residences are opulent and the demographic of the membership is Baltimore’s finest.