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Greystone Golf Course Challenges Your Senses and Your Game

In northern Baltimore County near the quiet town of White Hall on the site of the former Black Strap Farm is Greystone Golf Course. Originally conceived and designed as an exclusive private club in the early 1990s, the club ended up folding before it ever opened its doors.

Baltimore County purchased the property that at the time was about three quarters of the way to being a completed golf course. After finishing construction and strengthening the turf grass to withstand the higher number of rounds it would get as a public course, Greystone opened in 1997. The clubhouse was added a few years later.

Joe Lee, who designed the challenging layout at Greystone, is also the architect of the “Blue Monster” course at Doral and the golf courses at Walt Disney World. Greystone possesses all the hallmarks of a Lee design with the massive, sweeping, undulating greens, the unmistakable clusters of bunkers and the skillful use of the natural landscape in shaping the course. Bent grass surfaces prevail tee-to-green.

With nearly 150 feet of elevation changes and a perfect mix of tree-lined holes, links-style holes and water hazards, Greystone is as beautiful to look at as it is frustrating to play.

Par-3 Eighth Has It All

While virtually all the holes at Greystone are challenging, the par-3 eighth hole captures the difficulty and beauty of the course in less than 200 yards. The hole can play a scant 105 yards from the front women’s tee all the way back to 192 yards from the championship tees. With the pin placed in the back of the green, you’re looking at least a 200-yard carry to the flag on some days.

With the tee complex set above the green, hitting the ball far enough isn’t your biggest problem. Accuracy is absolutely essential off the tee to have any chance at par.

The hole is well guarded with a large pond and retaining wall on the front left side of the green. A large bunker skirts the backside of the green and gobbles up any tee shots that run through the putting surface. A smaller, but deeper bunker is set short and right of the green. To the right of both bunkers and the green is a deep, wooded ravine that is home to many wayward tee balls. Any hint of slice on your tee shot and there’s a better chance than not you should hit a provisional and plan to take the requisite penalty for a “lost ball.”

“On No. 8, there really is no bail-out option,” said Greystone’s head golf professional, Chris Hanson. “The only grass you have to aim at besides the green is the narrow swath of turf in front of the green, but it still requires a very straight tee ball.”

The tees are set fairly out in the open so winds can be strong and unpredictable, making as much as a two-club difference either way.

If the hole is playing long and you’re intent on playing it safe, your best option is to hit short of the green and bunkers, away from the water. This would leave you a long chip and a one putt for par. It’s more fun and entertaining to just pick your club and go at the green. On most days, the white tees aren’t pushed back much further than 150 yards -- a fair shot for most amateurs.

"If there’s any relief at all on No. 8 it’s on the green,” Hanson said. “Compared to most of the other greens throughout the course, it’s fairly flat.”

***

In the decade since it opened, a number of upgrades and changes have been made to the course. In addition to a various turf-management projects, the front nine was rerouted. Most recently, a $250,000 bunker restoration project was undertaken and a new state-of-the-art GPS system has been installed.

Greystone also boasts a first class practice facility. Amenities include one of the few public natural grass hitting stations and an expansive practice putting green.

Issue 2.36: September 6, 2007