Playing Through: Senior Players Championship at Caves Valley Golf Club

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — I haven’t played Pebble Beach. I rode along once, as a kid, at Spyglass Hill, but not even on the most storied course in my backyard. I’ve never played Torrey Pines, or Augusta National, or Pinehurst, or Oakmont, St. Andrews, or Muirfield. But I’ve played a lot of different courses. And Caves Valley is the nicest one yet.

While you’ll spend your week as a spectator at the private club this weekend for the Constellation Senior Players Championship, it’s worth the trip for the scenery alone. The sprawling, private course is now 26 years old and hasn’t hosted a prominent men’s championship since the U.S. Senior Open in 2002. But it’s primed to re-stake its claim as one of the mid-Atlantic’s leading tracks this week.

The entire course was reseeded two years ago and several groves of trees have been removed to open the course up visually. This has created spectacular sight lines from various spots along the hillsides, where spectators can see multiple holes of play from above the action.

You’ll need to know a member — like Joe Flacco — to play the course, but this weekend gives you a chance to take it all in. If you’re a true golf fan, you should do that.

The nines will be flipped from the usual layout, meaning players will tee off from the course’s usual #10 and finish at #9. To avoid confusion, all holes below have been listed as they will appear for the tournament.

A view of the 1st hole from the green below, as it slopes down away from the clubhouse. The views from above the tee box may be your best bet here. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
The second hole may be the most intriguing on the course, a par 5 twisting and turning through the hills to reveal the green. If you want a spot out of the main flow of traffic to watch the action, it might be worth trekking out here. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
The par 3 third offers a dramatic, downhill tee shot to the green … but very little in the form of any shade protection for spectators. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
The grove between the fourth and fifth fairways offer fans a fairly protected and shaded view of each, and could be a good spot to camp out on the front nine. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
The long, par 3 sixth hole will see players hit into a green just below a nicely shaded hill spot, which will also allow for viewing of the seventh fairway above. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
The view from the left side of the eighth fairway is unprotected, but perhaps the most spectacular on the whole course, ambling down the hill to showcase a handful of holes below. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
The usual opening hole at Caves Valley Gold Club will be #10 for the Constellation Senior Players Championship this week, offering a dramatic view from the top of the practice area to the fairway below. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
The waterside 11th hole stretches out across the course, but the trees on the tee box provide the last bit of cover, save for a few trees just shy of and above the green. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
The 12th looks a lot like the 11th, open with water on the right and also offers little in the way of shaded views. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
The par 3 13th offers a bowl of shaded seating for spectators just above the green on the far side of the water from the tee box. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
The Par 4 14th is at the far reaches of the course and doesn’t offer much for the average spectator. Unless you’re following a particular player, skip this one. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
The space left of the 15th fairway also borders the 16th and 17th holes, all of which form a shaded triangle that includes a concession stand, bathrooms and a first aid station. That should make this one of the more popular spots on the course this week. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
The grandstand behind the 16th green (still very much under construction a month ago, when this photo was taken) should offer views of the 17th tee as well, off in the distance down the hill. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
The view from the 17th tee is scenic, but the cleanest look you’ll get at the green is over on the left side, short and left of the bunker. The slope will keep those behind from a clean line of sight. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
If you’re not in the grandstand above the final green, you can still get a good view from the hill above the putting surface and maybe even a spot of shade from the trees above. (WTOP/Noah Frank)

Defending champ Bernhard Langer continues to tear up the Champions Tour, having won locally at the Senior PGA Championship at Trump National back in May. Fred Couples has withdrawn, but there are still plenty of names in the field, including John Daly and Vijay Singh.

Oh — and it’s going to be really hot the next few days. The heat index is projected around 105 degrees during Thursday’s first round. Be sure to stay hydrated and carry water with you on the course. Thankfully, there are lots of shaded areas thanks to a heavy dose of tall trees, providing more cover than many courses for fans.

Daily grounds tickets are $20 each day of the tournament, Thursday through Sunday. Weekly tickets are $70. Meanwhile, all active, reserve and retired military members and their dependents receive free admission for themselves and their dependents. All kids under age 18 are admitted free with a ticketed adult.

Also, if you’ve never been to a PGA Tour event, it’s a good idea to look through the list of prohibited items, some of which you may not readily realize you should leave at home. Among other things, big bags, lawn chairs and cameras are all prohibited. Plan ahead so you aren’t surprised when you arrive.

Parking will be just on the other side of Park Heights Avenue from the course, at the base of Blendon Road, which runs up the hill to the clubhouse, unveiling dramatic views of the course below.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2017 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

Federal News Network Logo

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up