Playing Through: Blue Mash Golf Course

The driving range at Blue Mash Golf Course in Laytonsville, Maryland, has your standard putting and chipping green, but also offers an indoor simulator for the winter months. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Blue Mash has your standard putting and chipping green, but also offers an indoor simulator for the winter months. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 1: Par 4, 449 yards from gold tees, 424 from blue tees, 389 from white tees, 334 from green tees, 331 from red tees The course opens with a fairly dramatic left-to-right par 4. Faders can cut the angle and shorten the hole nicely, but no matter how you attack it, there are precious few level lies on the fairway. Take a left-to-right approach into the green to take the bunker out of play, and take note of pin placement to be sure you’re on the correct half of the two-tiered surface. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 2: Par 4, 452/428/401/331/329 This long par 4 starts downhill, then moves back up again on approach. A wide open fairway narrows around the landing area, with two bunkers on the right side. It’s almost a better play to lay up if you have a bad drive, as the green is small and the entry tight, protected by two bunkers. A heavy slope from right-to-left will help save shots to the back right of the putting surface. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 3: Par 4, 478/453/426/361/359 A monster par 4, it eases slightly uphill and the fairway slopes slightly right-to-left, favoring the fader. But you have to stay in the fairway to have a shot at the green in two. The smart approach feeds in from the right, helping you avoid the sprawling, nasty bunker short and left of the green. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 4: Par 3, 206/190/172/138/123 A slightly downhill par 3, the false front invites players to leave their tee shot short. Find either of the left bunkers and you’ll leave yourself with a hellacious sand save, but not an impossible one. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 5: Par 5, 580/533/508/439/437 The medium-length, downhill par 5 has a somewhat narrower fairway than most. Your second shot carries over a fairway bunker to layup area and yes, you’ll want to lay up. A rough patch, a hill, and a bunker all guard the green, making a two-shot approach nearly impossible. Take a look over the hill at where the pin is, as the green leaves no room to miss right. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 6: Par 3, 160/143/127/105/100 On this very short par 3, just don’t leave it your wedge short and bring the bunkers into play. Missing slightly long just ensures you’ll find the fat part of the green. Take a club up and swing easy, give yourself a good look at birdie. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 7: Par 4, 392/386/301/282/225 There’s no need for driver off the tee on this short, narrow par 4. Take whatever club you’re most comfortable hitting straight to leave yourself with the best distance to approach. The green is slightly elevated, with a only real trouble coming from a deep bunker off to the right. (WTOP/Mike Jakaitis) (WTOP/Mike Jakaitis)
Hole No. 8: Par 4, 310/283/259/249/207 This is a tricky, short, skill-shot par 4. Unless you can spot a drive 260 uphill, just take your 175 club to the narrow landing strip moving right-to-left up the hill to the hole. A long, narrow bunker lies in front, so you’ll have to carry it. Carry your approach long if the pin is in front — a nasty green with several pockets awaits those who don’t follow through. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 9: Par 5, 548/522/500/490/423 Let’s call this a baby double-dogleg par 5. You can fade the first shot and move it softly into the middle of the fairway. The second shot is tighter than it looks, with a spit of lake reaching out into the fairway right in front of the green. You can be aggressive over the top — there’s a huge false back to catch you. But, as usual, it’s smarter to be safe. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 10: Par 4, 398/367/337/328/293 On this downhill par 4, a draw is great if you can hit it, but start the ball well right to avoid the left-side bunker. There is water short and right as you approach a fairly friendly green. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Signature Hole Hole No. 11: Par 3, 217/204/189/180/142 This long par 3 faces the clubhouse with a lake on the right. A friendly green depth-wise gives you plenty of space to hit a fairway wood if the pin is in the back. The Undulating putting surface makes for interesting sledding, depending on the pin and how far from it you end up. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 12: Par 5, 500/476/446/438/386 A short, wide open par 5, the tee shot moves downhill with water right, but plenty of room unless you really mishit it. Bunkers sit all along the left side, which will turn this into a three-shot hole if you find them. The fairway narrows considerably, bringing water much more into play on the approach. The green has a fairly heavy pitch, both directionally back-to-front and left-to-right. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 13: Par 3, 177/160/130/121/107 Depth and angles are everything on this short par 3. The green has multiple slopes to it, so make sure you choose the right side of the hole to attack to leave it close. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 14: Par 4, 378/360/334/326/277 On this narrow, short par 4, if you can carry the left side bunker to about 100 yards out, you’re perfectly set up. Two greenside bunkers are set up to snag anything short right and can be magnets for misses. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 15: Par 4, 423/400/373/365/285 This par 4 dogleg right is a fader’s paradise, taking you right over the cutout for a perfect line. The deep green can make pin placement deceptive, and the approach plays at least a club longer that you’d expect when it’s in the back. (WTOP/Mike Jakaitis) (WTOP/Mike Jakaitis)
Hole No. 16: Par 4/5, 463/445/430/410/405 A very long dogleg right par 4, the corner is guarded by a long, sunken bunker. But it’s almost necessary to play aggressive to have a good shot at the green in regulation. The good news — a wide, flat green awaits you, once you finally get there. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 17: Par 3, 192/177/158/97/95 You know you want to be aggressive. The ultimate glory boy par 3, if the pin is anywhere in front, you’ll be tempted to go for it. Again, the safer shot is blah, blah, blah just go for it already, you’re not listening to me anyway. (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Hole No. 18: Par 5, 562/551/521/444/442 A crawl of a finishing par 5, the 18th slowly snakes up the hill to the green. Small, sandless pot bunkers guard the left side on your drive — large ones (with sand) dot the right side on your second shot and the rest of the way. There’s also a left greenside bunker short, but room in the back of the green for a safer approach. (WTOP/Mike Jakaitis) (WTOP/Mike Jakaitis)
The damage … (WTOP/Noah Frank) (WTOP/Noah Frank)
(1/21)

LAYTONSVILLE, Md. — Sure, everyone likes playing golf on a warm, sunny day. But for the truly obsessed, this is a year-round sport, no matter the conditions. That’s good news at Blue Mash Golf Club, where you’re rewarded for your hardiness despite the weather.

Through the end of February, the Montgomery County course is offering a special — your 18-hole greens fee is equal to the offseason rate OR the outside temperature, whichever is lower, which includes your cart (add $10 on the weekends). With Monday-Thursday rates at $55, that can be quite a savings when cold fronts move through.

But no matter what time of year you play, you’ll find a very walkable, well-maintained course. I was lucky enough to play Caves Valley this year, and the entry to Blue Mash is evocative of Caves Valley lite, with a shorter drive up the hill toward the clubhouse, but a similar sneak peek of the course out to your window on the right-hand side.

The fairways are well maintained and the rough is manageable and evenly cut, so unless the light is bad, you shouldn’t lose anything that’s not out of bounds. The greens are quick for a public course, but fair. With no huge hills and a short distance from green to tee, if you’re on the fence about walking, go ahead and do it.

Joe Hills is the managing member and majority owner at Blue Mash. He’s also the son of Arthur Hills, the famous golf course architect who designed the course. He moved from Arizona in 1990 and helped along the decadelong process of getting the course online, which it finally did in 2001.

Hills’ favorite aspect of the course is its variety, moving from a links style to more of a woods course, then featuring water in the other third. He’s also pleased with its accessibility.

“We don’t really have any forced carries, which is pretty unusual for a modern course,” he told WTOP. “Most courses that were built in the last 15-20 years will have forced carries over wetlands.”

That doesn’t mean it’s easy, though, especially right out of the gates with three tough holes to start your round.

“Three is the real bear,” said Hills. “It’s just a brutally long par four that plays into the wind.”

He said it’s tough enough that they’re considering making it into a par 5.

As for the signature hole, none of us could agree. Hills listed 1, 2, 4 and 13 as his favorites, while Jake and I each picked other options. That speaks to the course’s consistency, as much as anything.

The course has you standard chipping and putting green, as well as two levels of grass range, but it’s also got a twist — an indoor simulator for the winter months. So if the cold weather has you bummed out, staring at the clubs in your closet, Blue Mash might have just what you need to hit the links this weekend.

Jake’s Take

Blue Mash is one of my favorite courses in the area. I love the layout and the diversity of the course.  Some holes are wide open, some are tight, and some have water. The first three holes are tough, but fair. I scored pretty well — for me — on those three holes. For the casual golfer, it’s very playable — just play your game and know the shots you can make as well as the shots you CAN’T make. I had a little trouble with the greens, but that was due to bad putting by yours truly. The greens had a true roll to them. Hole 17 is a fun, but tough par 3 over water. It’s the signature hole. Overall, Blue Mash is a good course for the casual golfer. Just play within yourself, “take your medicine” when you have to (easier said than done), and you’ll be fine.

Dates and Rates

Open year-round

Mon-Thu, 18 holes: $55, $59 with cart; $45/$54 after noon; $35/$44 after 2 p.m.

Friday, 18 holes: $55, $64 with cart; $50/$59 after noon; $40/$49 after 2 p.m.

Weekends/Holidays, 18 holes: $75, $84 with cart; $60/$69 after noon; $45/$54 after 2 p.m.

Specials

7-day membership: $2,200

Weekday membership: $1,900

Prepaid player packages (30 or 60 rounds)

Players Club: $99 per year, includes 10 percent off greens fees and USGA Handicap Dues

Indoor simulator league for the winter months

Food/Drink

Beverage cart seven days a week in the summer, weekends in winter

Pace of Play

Rounds stay at 4:10 or less

Our round: 3:55

Dress Code

Collared shirt preferred; no jeans.

Directions

From D.C., take Interstate 270 North to I-370 East. Exit 3B to Shady Grove Road and continue onto Airpark Road. Turn right on Woodfield Road, right on Fieldcrest Road and right on Olney Laytonsville Road. Course is on the left.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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