When you are 3,000 miles from home and in an area for the first time, choosing where to golf is not always a successful decision. One way I decide is by looking for golf courses managed by successful management companies like Troon Golf Management. In the Washington area, and a fairly convenient distance from our accommodation, I handpicked Troon’s Lake Presidential Golf Club located 20 miles east of Washington, DC in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, as one of the courses to review during our 5 day stay here.
I also peruse reviews and comments made by golfers who have played it on various social media platforms. The commentary is often very unbalanced, one reviewer stating they will never play it again another saying it’s the greatest course they’ve ever played. It’s wise to read a review that is very current. Golf courses are very susceptible and impacted by short- and long-term weather conditions. Basing your decision on where to play by reading a review older than 3 months can lead to bitter disappointment. I recommend calling the pro shop to inquire as to course conditions and recent maintenance work or for more detailed information. Often you can also look for “course conditions” on a golf course’s website.
We arrived at the course on a very warm and sunny day. What the drive from DC to the course didn’t indicate was that there was a pretty brisk wind greeting us. We didn’t have a formal tee time, but Chuck in the pro shop was very efficient in getting us set up with a few range balls and some valuable information about the course. He did inform us that the rough was very long and difficult and I joked, “Well it’s called “rough” for a reason”.
Our round got off to a great start before even teeing off. Bob, the starter, greeted us heartily and provided us with the important aspects of maneuvering around the 18 holes efficiently. We learned we were playing on a day when the greens on the back nine had been aerated and top dressed and you will see evidence of that in the final photo. I couldn’t avoid including this photo with the beautifully situated clubhouse looking down upon the 18th green. It didn’t have any negative effect on the 4-footer I tapped in for par on this incredible Par 5 finishing hole. Plus, the front nine greens were pretty tasty so we knew what to expect when all of them were consistent.
Here are the many positive features of this 11-year-old course. The layout is superb, rolling undulating fairways framed by impressive stands of forest prevail. The green configurations and bunkering are of the highest standard. Each hole contains 5 tee boxes and unless you’re pretty big off the tee play from the whites. There are many fantastic holes starting with the slight dogleg first hole. Numerous shots require forced carries over a creek that runs throughout the course and the presence of a big lake on the course is reminiscent of many of the courses we reviewed and played on the Robert Trent Jones Trail in Alabama. This course is a shot makers course with huge, elevated greens so you can easily have 60 to 70-foot putts if you don’t choose the correct club. Sloped fairways demand that you play the contour on tee shots allowing the ball to roll back into play.
The Par 5’s are awesome; it’s doubtful you’ll be boasting about putting for eagle. Should you make that elusive birdie on any of them, stand up and take a bow. There are no weak holes on this course, which is its true strength. Both of the finishing holes; 9 and 18 are fantastic. I love Par 3’s that require a shot over water like number 9 and a par 5 finishing hole on the back nine is a pure delight. It was made evident to me by a few members of the local golfing fraternity that the word “drought” was used to describe the summer weather. I am not sure what effect that had on the course. Although it appeared to be over watered with a number of holes roped off from tee to green this could have been a bi=product of rising coastal tidal water effecting and increasing the height of the water table . The problem with this is having to leave the cart on the path, often at a highpoint, then you walk down and back up a steep slope from the cart to your ball. It’s a factor when dealing with slow play. Unfortunately, we witnessed it continually with the three-some playing in front of us.
In our haste to get away this morning we left not one, but two GPS devices on the coffee table. That presented a huge challenge as the course has virtually no effective yardage markers other than a few scattered “barber poles” at 150 and very ineffective brass yardage markers on the paths. The scorecards need a simple map of the layout as many of the tee shots are blind and from the blue tees where I played from I had no idea where to position my ball on a few holes. Now to the rough, and again let’s remember it’s not a part of any golf course where you are supposed to be rewarded. It was extremely thick and penal. I don’t think it was intentionally meant to so long and untidy, but it was still an unnerving part of the round and combined with the autumn leaves meant that there are half a dozen of my Pro V’s no more than 5 yards off the fairway hiding for the winter. I would suggest until they knock it down to perhaps 1 -2 inches, unless they are bidding for the US Open use a brightly colored ball and ask your playing partners to watch each other’s ball very closely. I don’t mind bogeys, but I hate losing half a dozen expensive balls due to exceedingly long grass. When we discussed the merits of playing this superb layout Myra and I agreed that the course has what we call ”great bones”. Much like a solidly built house that just needs some TLC and closer attention to detail this is a course worth playing. It’s also a course that deserves to be presented at a more polished level.
One indicator for me that no expense was spared when the course was built is the quality of the paths, concrete from beginning to end. The other is the size and style of the clubhouse, which is beautiful throughout, the bathrooms themselves 5-star quality. Lake Presidential Golf Club is perhaps only one stretch of nice weather and a couple of greens keepers on mowers cutting the rough from being the amazing course that’s portrayed on their website. Its priced competitively and is stunning, tough and demanding. Long may it succeed. Play it often.
Phone (301) 627 8577