By Matt Hombach
A gorgeous waterfront layout designed by Arthur Hills and unique views of the Ocean City skyline are reason enough to make Lighthouse Sound one of the top five golf courses in Maryland.
Since Lighthouse Sound opened in 2000, the course has garnered critical acclaim from both Golf Magazine and Golf Digest and has been heralded as the "Pebble Beach of the East" by Golf Styles Washington.
The 18th hole at Lighthouse Sound features a green that is elevated 30 feet above the fairway and amazing views of the Ocean City skyline.
The course is a special treat for landlocked golfers. There are 15 holes at Lighthouse Sound that sit either on the banks of the Assawoman Bay and St. Martin's River or adjacent to the pristine marshland that surrounds the course.
While these waterfront holes have major visual appeal, the breeze that comes off the bay and marsh can quickly stir up trouble for a golf game. On some days, the course offers a real British Open feel, complete with a two-club wind and the need to throw on a sweater.
Most of the waterfront holes are on the front side, which has more of a seaside links feel to it. The vistas of northern O.C. are visible on the fourth, fifth and sixth holes.
While the entire front nine is scenic and challenging, one hole is worthy of a special mention. The par-3 fourth goes 218 yards and by many accounts, may be the most difficult par-3 on the Eastern Seaboard. From the back tees, the drive needs to carry 200 yards over the marshland to even have a chance at par on this beauty. The green is set on a peninsula with water or marshland surrounding it on three sides.
If a 200-yard-plus par-3 into the wind isn't enough to make a golfer sweat through his golf glove, the green on the fourth hole is frighteningly only 18 yards deep.
The vistas of northern O.C. are visible on the fourth, fifth and sixth holes.
The back nine at Lighthouse Sound has a decidedly more parkland feel to it. Most of the holes are bordered by trees and wooded areas, but it still offers an entertaining mix of holes that brings more water and marshland into play amongst the trees.
The ninth hole really feels as though it is part of the back nine. After playing number eight, a relatively short par-4 called the "Road Hole," golfers literally hit the road on the longest cart path bridge in the United States. The bridge runs over water and marshlands to the ninth hole, which is laid out amongst the rest of the back side.
A favorite hole on the back is No. 18, a challenging par-5 that leaves golfers nowhere to hide after grinding it out on the previous 17 holes. Off the tee, they're forced to pinch their drive between a tough fairway bunker on the right and a large marshy pond on the left.
From there, the hole doglegs significantly to the left. For the long ball knockers, the temptation is there to try to get home in two. Be advised, 18 features a green that is elevated 30 feet above the fairway and requires a well-struck shot with lots of carry to hit it in two. Marshland guards the green to the left and trees and rough are its defense to the right.
While 18 does make the end of the round fairly challenging, the view at the approach of the green makes it more than worth the effort. The O.C. skyline is framed perfectly as the backdrop to the finishing hole.
Golfers shouldn't let a couple challenging holes make them shy away from teeing it up at Lighthouse Sound. Hills designed the tee complexes with plenty of options to keep it fun for golfers of any skill level.
Another design element Hills incorporated into Lighthouse Sound was a number of elevated greens. Even on the course's seemingly open and simple holes, and a slightly elevated green can make a significant difference in club selection. Additionally, some of the greens are quite large with tricky pin positions.
To help with those tricky club selections, Lighthouse Sound's fleet of golf carts is equipped with the ProLink GPS system, which gives golfers hole and green layouts along with yardage to that day's pin position. The GPS system also offers playing tips for each hole, two-way messaging, food and beverage ordering and keeps golfers apprised of their pace of play.
The only thing that would be nice to add to the carts is a wind direction and speed indicator. While the yardage may read 150 to the pin, the bay breeze can make a big difference in the club you pull.
Photos Courtesy of Lighthouse Sound
Issue 1.9: June 22, 2006