The course at Whiskey Creek Golf Club was The Big Easy's first foray into the world of design. It was here that Ernie Els collaborated with architect J. Michael Poellet of JMP Design to lay out a stellar set of strategic golf holes.
Situated a short 20-minute drive from Frederick, the course occupies a varied property of ponds, wetland areas, rocky outcrops, meadows and pine forest – and at the par five 18th, there’s an old derelict farmhouse in the middle of the fairway to be negotiated before playing an approach shot over water to the home green.
“Whiskey Creek is a course where you have the opportunity to play a full range of golf shots and really think about your strategy for playing each hole,” said Ernie Els. “It's a course that offers that traditional feel to the public golfer, not just a course where you bang the ball around.”
Whiskey Creek is a course I’ve played more than a dozen times… and with each round, I’ve felt the course fall more and more out of favor. That’s not to say it isn’t a good track — WC has plenty of memorable holes, good conditioning, and is situated on a beautiful piece of property; but where it begins to fail to live up to the hype it once conjured, is the number of quirky holes it consists of and the odd routing it employs. I’d argue that as many as 1/3 of its holes could be described as such (1,5,6,12,14,17) which is far too high a number to merit the in-state ranking it receives in several publications. It’s absolutely a course worth playing if in the area, just don’t drop what you’re doing to do it.
Given that I unfortunately played this course on one of the windiest days I can ever remember playing golf, affecting my game to the point that it was almost not fun, my day at Whiskey Creek was not the most memorable one. What I do remember is that the course is big and bold-featured, with large elevation changes, sweeping views, big, sloping greens, and bunkering galore. It sits in an area of Maryland that feels like the middle of nowhere but is not particularly far outside the large Baltimore-Washington megalopolis.
The front nine is more wooded and hilly, while the back nine has more open terrain and water hazards coming into play. Memorable holes include #3, a semi-blind uphill par thre; #6, a nasty little uphill short par four that tempts the player to take a shot at the green when downwind; and #18, a massively wide-corridor par five with an old stone building in the middle of the fairway. There are some unpleasantly quirky holes (#1in particular) as well as some boring holes as the routing isn’t great, but the condition was as good as expected for a high-end daily fee layout and the landscape is beautiful. I think if there were ever a candidate for a “three and a half” ball rating, this would be it, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and give it four.
Played October 15, 2011