By Matt Hombach
A trip to Westminster this time of year usually means you’re headed to Ravens training camp, but for golfers, there’s another good reason to brave the summer heat and take a drive up Route 140.
Wakefield Valley Golf Club in Westminster is consistently listed as one of the top courses in Maryland. The wide variety of holes at Wakefield Valley -- the course offers three separate nine-hole tracts (green, white and gold) -- is challenging and visually appealing. A number of elevation changes on the property provide attractive vistas from the numerous elevated tees. In addition, the course offers many uphill shots into one of Wakefield’s well-bunkered, elevated greens.
The course is set on what was formerly rolling Carroll County farmland. While trees line most of the holes, the course isn’t a true parkland style or wooded course. The trees that dot the course at Wakefield seem to be strategically placed. Stray from the fairway at all and you’ll quickly find the pines, oaks, maples and willows can be the course’s toughest defense.
If there’s one hole that is emblematic of the challenge and beauty that Wakefield can offer, it’s the white course's par-5 No. 2. Off the tee, golfers are faced with out-of-bounds markers lining the right side of the fairway. The left side is largely tree-lined. Spray it right and you’re talking stroke and distance. Miss left and you’re likely going to have to chip out into the fairway to get back in play.
While there is out of bounds to the right of the fairway, if you’re going to miss off the tee, it’s better to miss a bit right. There are open areas of rough with a few trees and a cart path down the right side of the fairway before hitting the OB markers that border residential property adjacent to the course.
Playing from the white tees, No. 2 is the longest hole on the course at just under 560 yards. While the tee shot requires supreme accuracy, the fairway slopes gently downhill. This helps a well-struck drive run out some extra distance and can lull players into thinking they just might be able to get their second shots close to the green.
The fairway remains narrow but levels out closer to the green, which is guarded by a large pond and an hourglass-shaped bunker between the pond and the front of the green. A larger bean-shaped bunker flanks the right side of the green and a smaller, round bunker is strategically placed to collect shots that fall short and to the right of the target.
The green itself slopes slightly back to front. The green on No. 2, like the others at Wakefield, rolls relatively fast and true. What you see is what you get on these putting surfaces. Golfers will need to be mindful of the grain of the bent grass greens and take that into account when thinking about the speed of putts.
While No. 2 on the white nine is a challenging long hole, there are also some tricky par-3s at Wakefield. From the middle tees, they range from about 130 to 180 yards in length. Each one offers a unique challenge, but many feature a tough carry over a well-placed pond or creek. The holes aren’t overly difficult or unfair, but they are obviously designed to reward well-played shots and punish players for poor shots.
Over the years, Wakefield has played host to qualifiers for U.S. Opens, U.S. Amateurs and numerous other USGA and MAPGA events. It is a very popular destination for outings and events.
Because the course does get a relatively high amount of outing play, be sure to make tee times in advance. Many of the large outings take up all 27 holes on the course and walk-ons may be disappointed, especially on a weekday. ***
The cart-included rate at Wakefield is $45 for 18 holes Monday through Friday and $59 on weekend mornings. After 4 p.m., the rate is $31 on weekdays and $35 on weekends. The rate drops to $49 after noon on weekends as well.