Golf Top Stories

Ranking Maryland's best public golf experiences

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NBCSW

Ranking Maryland's best public golf experiences

The Washington, D.C. region boasts some of the best golf experiences on the east coast.

The D.M.V is home to some best country clubs in the world including Congressional C.C., who was recently awarded eight PGA of America Championships.

But let’s remember there’s a strong presence of public courses as well, especially north of the beltway and west of Baltimore.

We’ve selected five categories for the best of public courses in that specific region and recently did a segment on DC Sports Live detailing these: 1) Best 18th hole, 2) Best View, 3) Best Value, 4) Best 19th Hole, and 5) Best Par 3.

Ranking Maryland's best public golf experiences

Best 18th Hole:

No. 18, Par 5, 547 yards. Whiskey Creek Golf Club, Ijamsville, Md.

As golfers, let’s face it, we’re greedy. We always want to end with a birdie. The 18th at Ernie Els and J. Michael Poellot-designed Whiskey Creek in Ijamsville, Md. gives that possibility.

There’s no other finish quite like it in the region. A picturesque tee shot with a view of the clubhouse is only slightly interrupted by a memorable obstacle sitting smack in the middle of the downhill par 5’s fairway: an old stone house.

It’s the remains of a Prohibition-era farm that used to distill whiskey and float the barrels down the creek to load in wagons (hence the name Whiskey Creek).

But enough of the history lesson, let’s remember that the house is part of the course. You read that right. You’re free to play it where the ball lies, even up against the stone wall should your drive land there. But you can also take an unplayable drop.

“You can opt for the safe (tee) shot and hit it to the right of the house which gives you a longer shot in or forces a layup,” Head Golf Professional Michael Jerolamon says. “You could also go left of the house which gives you a good opportunity to go for the green in two.”

What if you can’t make up your mind?

“I always jokingly tell guests to just aim at the house and swing as hard as you can so you miss it just right or left.”

The green is protected by a small pond with bunkers front, back, and left that come into play even more the further out you are on your approach.

“It’s a great finishing hole because there’s a huge risk/reward,” Jerolamon says.

More info: Whiskeycreekgolf.com


Best View: Honorable Mention

From the elevated clubhouse at P.B. Dye Golf Club, Ijamsville, Md.

"The view from the clubhouse overlooking pretty much the entire course is probably the best view, looking into Sugarloaf Mountain," says Head PGA Pro and General Manager Jon LeSage.

"You can see 16 holes, kind of like at Oakmont C.C., you can see the majority of the course."

The most scenic hole is the downhill par 3 11th with its island green and the surrounding hills behind it.

The course also boasts a nice practice facility with three simulators.

Upcoming events include the 10th Annual Turkey Day Shootout November 10, benefitting Toys for Tots, and the 1st Annual P.B. Dye Cup which launches on November 9, an 11 a.m. shotgun start.

More Info: pbdyegolf.com


Best View:

From the clubhouse, looking in any direction. Musket Ridge Golf Club, Myersville, Md.

I don’t know about you, but my favorite part of every golf course is the views. Musket Ridge has no shortage of those, from the 200-foot elevation drop on the first to the vast panoramic views from the clubhouse looking over the foothills of the Catocin Mountains.

“They’re unquestioned,” Head Golf Professional Josh Ricketts says of the views. “It’s the finest piece of property in Frederick County for sure.”

“It’s got to be the best view and setting in most of Maryland public golf, if not the best.”

And it’s not just about the golf as there are numerous events and weddings held at the course’s Catoctin Hall, also perched near the clubhouse.

“But the setting is not only for the golfer, but for the general public who want a nice, relaxing spot to come out and take in the view,” Ricketts said.

A full-service bar and restaurant are available there as well with a strong food and libations selection.

Upcoming events include Annual Turkey Shoot November 18 and Toys for Tots on December 1.

More info: Musketridge.com
 

Best Value: Honorable Mention

Northwest Golf Course, Silver Spring, Md.

Hosted 2017 US Open Local Qualifying, a couple Nike Tour and Buy.com Tour events in previous years.

“It’s a great championship course that the public has access to,” General Manager Billy Cullum says.

Weekday rates: $37-$50 to ride, $22-$35 to walk
Weekend rates: $37-$85 to ride, $22-$60 to walk

More info: Mcggolf.com

Little Bennett Golf Course in Clarksburg, Md.

Big doglegs, Elevation drops, risk-reward, forced carries off tee ... Little Bennett brings the heat.

And the view from the clubhouse deck overlooking the ninth and eighteenth greens is pretty sweet.

“We have a really good deal on weekdays that can’t really be beat anywhere else,” says General Manager Jeff Blake. “You get green free, cart, fee, range balls, lunch included, and free replays if it’s available, all included for $41.

So I think that right there is one of the better deals in the area if not the best deal for public golf courses up here.”

More info: Mcggolf.com

Best Value:

Compass Pointe Golf Course in Pasadena, Md.

Variety, nice views, good course conditions and layout for the price. It’s hard to beat Compass Pointe Golf Course. It’s got 36 holes and prices vary between $38-$50 for 18 on weekdays. $44-$68 for 18 on weekends.

One of the major factors for value here is the large grass driving range. You’d be surprised how many of the public courses in the region that don’t have this option.

It’s huge, especially for those of us who want as real a pre-round warmup as possible. The Two courses are the North (6,709 yards from the blue tees, 133 Slope) and West Course (6,590 from the blues, 128 Slope).

“The North course is the most popular side,” says General Manager Michael Senneca. “The first five holes are set up like a links-style golf course.”

“The Westside is more of a shot makers course.  Most golfers have to hit less than a driver on many tees.”

The courses are run by Billy Casper Golf.

More info: Compasspointegolf.com

Best 19th Hole:

Whiskey Creek Golf Club, Ijamsville, Md.

The best hole in golf is always the 19th. Doesn’t everyone want the end of their personal emails to say “Sent from the 19th hole”? I know I do.

One of my favorite parts of the game is the people and the story-telling and camaraderie that comes during and after the round.

Whiskey Creek has a sweet spot for this. They’ve got a large deck that veers around three sides of the clubhouse to see the finishing holes on each side.

When you’re called Whisky Creek, you’d expect a generous selection of whiskey.

But this place takes it to another level with $13 Scotch Whiskeys, $12 Bourbon Whiskeys, and $9 Rye Whiskeys, and a full-service restaurant as well that feels like you’re in a ski lodge.

More info: Whiskeycreek.com

Best Par 3:

No. 17 188 yards (blue tee). Worthington Manor Golf Club, Urbana, Md.

A gorgeous, severely downhill par 3 set in the only densely wooded area on the course. 223 yards from the back tees, this hole is a brute. Most of the course is open so if it’s a windy day then you’ve got some math to do on this tee box.

Not only do you factor in the major elevation drop, but how much the tall trees are likely to keep the wind down.

A big bunker guards the  left side and thick rough surrounds the rest.

"The green is very narrow, and when the pin’s in the back it’s a very difficult hole," Head Pro Ed Coyle says. "You don’t have much room for error."

"Short is your only real bailout. If it’s a calm day, it’s usually a club less down the hill."

It’s one of the prettiest settings in this region. And the course is phenomenal as well with a 19th century Manor turned-clubhouse and a rustic barn turned-cartbarn.

Worthington Manor is proud to have hosted U.S. Open qualifying for ten years and will be only the third public course in 98 years to host next summer’s Maryland Open.

More info: Worthingtonmanor.com

2018 PGA Championship Predictions: Fantasy Golf sleepers, fade picks

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USA TODAY Sports

2018 PGA Championship Predictions: Fantasy Golf sleepers, fade picks

The final major golf tournament of the season takes place this weekend at Bellerive Country Club in Town And Country, Missouri. Bellerive last hosted the PGA Championship in 1992 when Nick Price captured the first of his three major titles.

Will Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka or Francesco Molinari claim their second major title of 2018? Can Dustin Johnson, the world's top golfer, capture his first major title since 2016? What about Tiger Wood? There are so many questions that will get answered between Thursday, Aug. 9 and Sunday, Aug. 12.

If you are looking for the best insight and analysis to help you win at fantasy gold, you've come to the right place. 

The panel of golf experts offering their predictions, picks and analysis are:

Chris Garosi, The Fantasy Fix
Geoff Fienberg, DraftKings Live/The PME Experience
Kenny Kim, Fantasy Golf Degenerates Podcast
Doug McKinney, NBC Sports Washington/Sports Junkies

PGA Championship 2018 Fantasy Golf Picks and Predictions

PICKS TO WIN

Geoff Fienberg: Dustin Johnson
The No. 1 player in the world has four Top 5 finishes in his last five5 starts and I expect another outstanding finish this week. I don’t want to live in a world in which Dustin Johnson has the same amount of majors as Keegan Bradley and a cavalcade of others so I’m looking forward to him getting No. 2 this week.

Chris Garosi: Dustin Johnson
I’ll stick with the favorite this week and go with Dustin Johnson. He’s finished in the Top 10 in five of his last six tournaments, missing the cut at The Open Championship. He may be in the best form of his life and perhaps the best form of anyone in the field.

Kenny Kim: Rory McIlroy
McIlroy is in solid form entering the 2018 PGA Championship. He was in the final pairing last week at Firestone and was in contention on the back-nine Sunday at Carnoustie. His length off the tee should be helpful at a wet Bellerive and the soft conditions should help with his approach game as well. The course favors golfers who hit a draw off the tee and McIlroy does that with the best of them. If he putts like he did last week, he could run away with it.

Doug McKinney: Brooks Koepka 
Why not? All Koepka does is compete at golf’s four prestigious in-season events. Since whiffing in his first two major appearances, Koepka has only made 17 straight cuts, including 11 Top 15 finishes and seven Top 10’s. Oh right, he also has two U.S. Open titles. The Florida State product has gone T-15 / T-5 / T-4 / T-13 in his last 4 PGA Tour visits. Bellerive is built for Koepka’s profile: long off the tee, maintain strokes gained tee-to-green and greens in regulation.  

SLEEPER PICK

Geoff Fienberg: Bryson DeChambeau
 The only player at Firestone to improve his score all four rounds. He'll never stop grinding for us and when you believe it is the Summer of Bryson how can one resist odds being posted as high as 80/1? Alex Noren was a close second for me here flirting in that 50-60/1 range.

Chris Garosi: Patrick Cantlay 
Since I went with chalk at the top, let’s dive a bit deeper for a sleeper. Patrick Cantlay tees it up for his second PGA Championship this week off a T6 at Firestone last week. He has three top 15 finishes in his last five events. He’s No. 31 in Strokes Gained: Approach, No. 11 Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and No. 8 Strokes Gained: Tee to Green on the year.

Kenny Kim: Bryson DeChambeau
DeChambeau impressed me last week by improving every round after shooting an abysmal 75 Thursday at Firestone. He could have given up but instead grounded out a Top 30 finish. He has all the tools to win here: length off the tee, sharp long irons, good approach stats, and his putter has improved the back half of this year. He’s also one of the top golfers on Tour at long par 4s. He has a lot to play for as he is one spot out of automatically making the Ryder Cup team and a strong showing this week will go a long way in his bid to make the team.

Doug McKinney: Paul Casey
I really wanted to slot Jon Rahm with the sleepers, because rarely anyone is giving him a shot to win…but I’ll play the game and go with someone who is even less talked about. The two-time PGA Tour winner – cough, cough he has 13 European Tour victories, mind you – is an older, British version of Rickie Fowler. Consistently making the weekend at Majors, usually near the top of the leaderboard (Nine Top-10’s on his record) and just has not put together four rounds together at the same time. 

Sound familiar right? The biggest difference between the two is that Casey is older and Fowler flashes a lot of orange. Casey’s iron play has been impressive this season and his tendency for higher than average ball-flight should come in handy this weekend.

LONGSHOT PICK

Geoff Fienberg: Beau Hossler
 The young Hossler is a brick house filled with immense talent and I’ve been sucked into the 150/1 price tag. Luke List and Gary Woodland also have my attention at numbers north of 100/1.

Chris Garosi: Kevin Chappell
 Kevin Chappell sits No. 27 in Strokes Gained: Approach and that’s enough for me to risk him this week as a longshot. I also always look at Cameron Smith on any par 70 course. Even though it’s been an up and down season for the youngster, he’s had a small uptick in play recently and perhaps it’s the start of something. 

Kenny Kim: Kyle Stanley
Stanley had a strong showing last week and his game should fit the needs of this course. He hits a ton of fairways, has excellent iron-play, and he is longer than you might think off the tee. Last week he averaged well over 300 yards with his driver. He hasn’t had too much success at Majors but has shown the propensity to do well in strong fields this past year. He has two Top 5s in the WGC events this season and has a runner-up finish at The Memorial. A Major breakthrough is not out of the question for him.

Doug McKinney: Gary Woodland
I picked “Woody” as my longshot for the U.S. Open and he “rewarded” me with a T-36. Two great rounds sandwiched in with two bad ones. He is coming off a solid performance in Akron and is fifth in strokes gained off the tee this year. He catches flack for his short game, but I think the other facets of his game will mask that problem this weekend.

FADE PICK

Geoff Fienberg: Francesco Molinari
Winning at Wentworth changed his career but winning at The Open has changed his life forever, from a strictly to win prospect I’m going to say ‘Cesco has run out of W's for 2018. 

Chris Garosi: Justin Rose
 Rose should be near the top of every card this week, but he withdrew last week with a back injury which gives me pause. You can find any number you want that will point you to Rose being a true contender, but I’m not risking it with him this week. 

Kenny Kim: Tiger Woods
It hurts my soul writing this but I think Tiger is a fade this week. This is his first full season on Tour in FIVE YEARS! There is no way his body can be used to the amount of golf he has played this season. His average swing speed has decreased in each of his last five tournaments and we’ve seen him struggle on weekends his last few outings. I don’t see a miraculous energy boost in his game this week no matter how much Monster he drinks.

Doug McKinney: Sergio Garcia
I don’t think he’s going to be a popular pick in the first place, but the 2017 Masters winner has missed the cut in his last four Majors. He hasn’t been able to drive the ball accurately this year. I wouldn’t roster him in any of my 30+ line-ups or betting plays.  

BARGAIN BUILDER

Geoff Fienberg: Ricky Fowler ($10,200)
It seems like many golf people are getting Fowler fatigue but he’s going to have a great week on a ball strikers/putters course.

Chris Garosi: Rafa Cabrera-Bello ($7,300), Eddie Pepperell ($7,000)
At $7,300, Cabrera-Bello is an outrageous bargain. You want stats? Ninth in Strokes Gained: Approach (if you like fancy stats) and 12th in GIR% (if you’re more of a simple stats kind of player). How about 31st in Total Driving? He’s coming of a T17 at Bridgestone and form at Bridgestone has seemed to be a good indicator for success at the PGA Championship. Maybe even play him as your top Spaniard if you’re into such things.

Kenny Kim: Jason Day.
I would consider Jason Day a Top 5 favorite to win this week but he is only the twelfth highest priced golfer on DraftKings. This is by far Day’s best Major and he is coming in with good form. We all know how good he is with the putter and out of the bunkers but what makes him a favorite for me is his improved iron play. If he gains anywhere near the 4.7 strokes he gained with his irons last week, he’ll be in contention on Sunday.

Doug McKinney: Jordan Spieth ($10,700), Rickie Fowler ($10,200).
Not a lot of love for the 2018 Masters winner, but I’ll roster him a bunch at that price. Patrick Reed could end the Majors season the way he started it.

 

Francesco Molinari wins Open Championship for first career major title

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USA TODAY Sports

Francesco Molinari wins Open Championship for first career major title

It was only a mere three weeks ago that Francesco Molinari closed with a final round 62 en route to a dominant eight-shot victory at the 2018 Quicken Loans National. 

On Sunday, his eight-under total was good enough for a two-shot win over Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele.

The 35-year-old played his final round alongside Tiger Woods, who shot a 5-under-par 66 in Saturday's third round that left him at 5 under through 54 holes and four shots back of the leaders. His 66 was his first weekend round in the 60s in the Open since 2007.

The 14-time major winner had to settle for a closing round of 71 on Sunday. It was his first Open since missing the cut at St. Andrews in 2015.

Molinari continues to be one of the world's hottest golfers, notching his third win in the last five starts. 

Some of golf's best weighed in on Sunday: 

When it was all said and done, on a day that featured difficult Carnoustie wind conditions, Francesco Molinari emerged victorious hoisting the Claret Jug.