The Capitol region has a number of excellent daily fee options spread out in an hour radius in any direction. Starting to the north, patrons in town to see the AT&T National can play pre-eminent golf architect Tom Doaks most easterly course, Beechtree Golf Club, in Aberdeen, Maryland, which is moderately priced and has a solid set of difficult par-4s.
Fourteen and fifteen, two long and interesting par-4s, are the backbone of the homeward nine, Doak said. Beechtree also has my favorite Eden Hole that Ive ever built, he finished. For those of you have not yet been to Scotland, an Eden hole is a version of the par-3 11th at St. Andrews, where three bunkers guard the front of the green, while a long beach bunker (or at St. Andrews, the sandy banks of the River Eden), awaits any shots that air-mail the putting surface.
Pete Dyes Bulle Rock Golf Club, home to the McDonalds LPGA Championship, is a mere twelve miles away from Beechtree. Named for the first thoroughbred race horse ever brought to America, Dye built a series of stunningly beautiful, yet cunning, strategic holes over a rocky site, containing significant elevation changes. Some of his best bunker work goes unappreciated here because players are too frightened by the water hazards on the opposite side of the green. Then they end up in the bunker on the other side and have to play a sand shot back toward the hazard they tried to avoid in the first place!
Other good options in Maryland include Blue Mash, an Arthur Hills design with the toughest opening four holes in all Maryland and some of his best green contours, and Whiskey Creek, a funky Ernie Els design with a stone wall hazard blocking your drive on the home hole.
In Virginia, those who are willing to drive to Williamsburg will see the best golf in the state. The two boldest and interesting designs are Mike Strantzs twins which sit a mere six miles from each other 'Royal New Kent, and Stonehouse. Strantz and his design team used to play a fun-filled Ryder Cup style team match against the grounds crew of Irelands world-renowned Royal County Down at Royal New Kent. Both courses are now run by Traditions Golf.
For other options, Pete Dye recently restored sections of his own River Course at Kingsmill Resort. D.C. locals also like Raspberry Falls Golf Club in Leesburg, Va. and Westfields G.C. in Clifton, VA, a Fred Couples signature design for low-impact rounds on weekends that dont cost an arm and a leg.
Since launching his first golf writing website in 2004, Jay Flemma's comparative analysis of golf designs and knowledge of golf course architecture and golf travel have garnered wide industry respect. In researching his book on America's great public golf courses (and whether they're worth the money), Jay, an associate editor of Cybergolf, has played over 260 nationally ranked public golf courses in 39 different states. Jay has played about 1,649,000 yards of golf - or roughly 938 miles. His pieces on travel and architecture appear in Golf Observer, Cybergolf and other print magazines. When not researching golf courses for design, value and excitement, Jay is an entertainment, copyright, Internet and trademark lawyer and an Entertainment and Internet Law professor in Manhattan.
Photo: Whiskey Creek ' 18th hole. Courtesy of whiskeycreekgolf.com