Playing Through: Poolesville Golf Course

The thermometer hanging outside the barn at Poolesville Golf Course may not have been an accurate measure of the temperature as much as a warning or our scores to come. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
The thermometer hanging outside the barn at Poolesville Golf Course may not have been an accurate measure of the temperature as much as a warning of our scores to come. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
The grass driving range. There is also a turf range, as well as a two acre practice area. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
The turf portion of the driving range. There is also a grass area of the range, as well as a 2-acre practice area. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
The opening hole at Poolesville Golf Course, a challenging public course in Montgomery County. (The grass driving range. There is also a turf range, as well as a two acre practice area. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole #1: Par 4,389 yards from blue tees, 377 from white tees, 328 from red tees Those looking for a nice, welcoming opening shot may be in for a rude awakening. This dogleg par 4 is tough to judge distances and angles on the first play. If you’ve got a healthy fade (like I do, sporadically), the natural shape can play into your hands. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole #2: Par 5, 605/565/467 A long, downhill sloping par 5, this is a true three-shot hole, measuring over 600 yards from the back tees. The tree line to the right is unforgiving, forcing you to play two shots in the fairway to give yourself a shot to reach the green in regulation. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole #3: Par 3, 227/176/150 This straightaway Par 3 has bunkers guarding both sides of the front of the green and moves slightly uphill, playing a shade longer than the listed yardage. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole #4: Par 4, 395/376/324 Narrower than its predecessors, this par 4 offers you a chance at a good score … if you can keep the ball in the fairway. The obstacles don’t look imposing, but strategically placed trees on both sides can turn opportunity into frustration quickly. (WTOP/Noah Frank) ((WTOP/Noah Frank))
Hole #5: Par 4, 395/375/302 A jut of trees sneak out along the left side of the fairway, forcing you to either stay right to be safe or play a draw out around them up a slight rise. Do that, and you’ve got a good look at the green. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole #6: Par 4, 448/392/326 Avoid the fairway bunker on the right, but don’t veer too far left, as trees are scattered up that side once you reach the first cut. The narrowness of the fairway is exacerbated by the length of this hole, which takes two solid shots to find the putting surface. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Signature Hole Hole #8: Par 3, 206/191/162 The first water shot of the round, this par 3 clears a pond and eases uphill into the green. While it rates as one of the easier holes on the card, it’s still no picnic to hit the green at its length, especially as the green is wide, but not particularly deep. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole #9: Par 4, 385/379/305 A straightforward finisher for the front nine, the slow, uphill par 4 gives you enough room to play a deep shot into the green, but punishes you for coming up short. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole #11: Par 5, 489/451/420 The only par 5 on the back nine and the final one on the course is also the shortest, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. A technical tee shot over water to an angled fairway leads to a second shot that requires the decision of whether to try to clear the creek at the bottom of the hill 85 yards from the green, or lay up. The green itself sits atop a hill surrounded by traps. (WTOP/Noah Frank) ((WTOP/Noah Frank))
Hole #13: Par 3, 176/146/108 The shortest and easiest par 3 on the course has an accommodating green with readable breaks. A good tee shot gives you a reasonable birdie putt. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole #15: Par 4, 363/346/290 A wide open, shorter par 4, it stands in contrast to the narrower tee shots at Poolesville. One of the better chances to score, if you can avoid the large bunkers that flank the green on either side, like I didn’t. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole #17: Par 3, 182/164/154 This uphill par 3 played into the wind, stretching it at least two clubs past its normal distance, which ended up spelling trouble for both of us. Pick the right club and you can make things much easier for yourself. (WTOP/Mike Jakaitis) (WTOP/Mike Jakaitis)
Hole #18: Par 4, 425/400/330 An elevated tee shot drops to a slow, uphill, crawling par 4. It plays fairly long, but stays wide all the way to the green, guarded by a single bunker on the right. (WTOP/Mike Jakaitis) (WTOP/Mike Jakaitis)
(1/20)
The thermometer hanging outside the barn at Poolesville Golf Course may not have been an accurate measure of the temperature as much as a warning or our scores to come. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
The grass driving range. There is also a turf range, as well as a two acre practice area. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
The opening hole at Poolesville Golf Course, a challenging public course in Montgomery County. (The grass driving range. There is also a turf range, as well as a two acre practice area. (WTOP/Noah Frank)

Playing Through is a monthly series where WTOP Digital Sports Editor Noah Frank and WTOP Morning Drive Editor Mike Jakaitis play and review local golf courses. See the full series list and more information here.

POOLESVILLE, Md. — The first thing you notice on the drive to Poolesville Golf Course is just how remote it feels. If you’re the type of golfer who enjoys really getting away from the bustle of the city, it’s hard to find a course that feels as detached from fast-paced D.C. life.

The next thing you notice is that this is a tough course. Playing it for the first time, nearly everything that could go wrong did, as I posted one of my worst scores since college (94). Meanwhile Jake, who knows the course well, went on to shoot a 119. It was not our finest effort.

Many courses boast some measure of trees, but find them at Poolesville and you may cost yourself multiple strokes. Rather than the scoring opportunities they are on some courses, the par 5s are nothing but trouble. And the greens took nearly the entire round to get a feel for.

If you’re looking for a surprising challenge at public course prices, Poolesville can be a humbling trip around the links.

Jake’s Take

I consider Poolesville my home course, but you wouldn’t know it if you took a look at my score card (I shot a 119). I love playing this course — maybe that’s why I took so many shots.

If you’re the casual golfer/hacker like me, I think you’ll like it. There aren’t too many hazards and the fairways are wide open except for a few holes. Just remember to take your medicine if you hit it in the trees.

I had my signature “blow up hole” on #4. It’s a par 4 and only 376 yards from the white tees, with woods on the left, trees on the right. I took an 11 because I didn’t take my medicine and tried to hit a hero shot through the trees. And to make up for that ‘Tin Cup’ moment, I putted poorly.

If you have trouble hitting it over water, the par three on #8 will be a challenge but it’s a nice hole — even though I took a 7. Overall, Poolesville is a good course for the casual player. Give it a shot — or, if you play like me, MANY shots.

Dates and Rates

Open March through December, seven days a week

Rates: Monday-Thursday, 18 holes + cart $36.99 (Friday $41.99) | Saturday-Sunday: 18 holes $39.99-$47.99 + $15 cart

Specials

Member for a Day: Monday-Thursday from open-12 p.m., $36.99 for unlimited play including breakfast, lunch and a small bucket of range balls. $5 more on Friday.

Player’s club: $29/month, includes unlimited range + 50 percent off greens fees after 1 p.m.

Food/Drink

No full restaurant or grill, but hot dogs and sandwiches are available

Beverage cart on course on weekends and for tournaments

Pace of Play

As quick as three hours, down to as slow as 4:30 on weekends.

Dress Code

Collared shirts only; no denim; shorts OK

Directions

16601 West Willard Road, Poolesville, MD

Take River Road from Northwest D.C. all the way to Willard Road

From Interstate 270, take Darnestown Road to Seneca Road to River Road

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