By Matt Hombach
Nestled on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Baltimore County, Rocky Point Golf Course offers area golfers an ideal wintertime retreat and the chance to play when most other local courses are still snow-covered. Because of its close proximity to the bay, the winter temperatures and amount of frozen precipitation at Rocky Point tend to be more moderate than at courses further inland.
"When Rocky Point does get snow or ice, it generally melts quickly due to the milder temperatures we get, being closer to the water," head pro Jeff Bell said. "As an example, we opened for play last Thursday, February 22, while most other courses were still buried under several inches of ice."
Photo courtesy of Rocky Point
The unique layout at Rocky Point was forged out of a combination of pastureland and hardwoods more than 30 years ago. A few farms and shore cottages dotted the land where the classic course stands today.
Course architect Russell Roberts of Bethesda (who used what would soon be the first fairway as a makeshift landing strip for his Piper Cub when he visited the course as it was being built) blended the rolling farmland and existing mature trees to design an interesting and entertaining mix of holes.
Many of the holes Roberts laid out at Rocky Point offer sweeping views of the Chesapeake Bay that never fail to gain the attention of first-time visitors.
The 11th hole, a 150-yard par three, is considered Rocky Point's signature hole and offers unparalleled views of the glistening Chesapeake Bay and surrounding landscape.
"It's special to play Rocky Point with someone who has never experienced the course before," Bell said. "It's hard to believe there is a course with scenery like this right here in Baltimore County. I've heard many golfers say it's like 'The Pebble Beach of the East.' "
Another hole that golfers will remember, maybe not for its breathtaking beauty, but for the demanding shots it requires to hit the green in regulation, is the par-4 second hole. The hole carries the No.1 handicap at Rocky Point.
Photo courtesy of Rocky Point
While it does offer some challenges, Rocky Point is a playable course that golfers of any ability will enjoy. Beginners will find the course fair and not too difficult to manage, with little water. Low handicappers playing from the tips will find it a challenge to keep their ball between many of Rocky's tree-lined fairways, but will be afforded a chance to go low if they bring their A-game.
Everyone who visits Rocky Point during the prime season will be impressed with the turf quality. With a new fairway drainage system and turf management program, the course is looking better than ever, tee-to-green.
Golf Digest recently honored the course with a 3.5-star "Places to Play" rating. Bell is confident additional compliments and accolades will come Rocky Point's way as a result of some major capital improvements that have taken place recently. These improvements include a course-wide bunker restoration program, the addition of new cart paths and repairs to old ones, as well as a new fleet of carts that began service in 2006.
The Essex course has remained a popular destination for golfers throughout the area.
The course is located less than three miles off the Baltimore Beltway at the Back River Neck Road exit in Essex. Rocky Point also sits directly adjacent to the beautiful, historic Ballestone Manor that dates back to the late 1700s and is a major attraction for history buffs.
Issue 2.10: March 8, 2007