Unfortunately for Orioles fans, by the time we reach the month of August, it’s already time to turn our focus from baseball to football. For Ravens fans, this means one thing – Training Camp in Westminster, MD. For over a decade now a group of friends and I have ventured out to Carroll County to catch the morning and afternoon practice, but in recent years, we have been mixing in a round of golf in place of one of the practices. This year, our annual trip to Ravens Camp also led us to Westminster National Golf Course.
It’s been a little more than two years since new ownership took over this golf course and renamed it Westminster National (formerly Bear Creek). However, changing the name isn’t the only thing that they’ve done to begin to redefine the course and, most importantly, the golfing experience they help provide.
Now, we’re not talking about major renovations to the design & layout as the course takes advantage of the natural lay of the land with lots of elevation changes and well-maintained fairways. Instead, the owners have decided to reinvest in the course and maximize their budget for improvements. New sprinkler heads have been added throughout and the grounds crew is ever-present on the course. In fact, I spent the entire front 9 on the heels of the Greens Keeper, and it was fun knowing that I would be the first to hit onto the green after he finished the manicure.
One of the Superintendent’s top priorities was to improve the area around the greens on the 9th and 18th holes, both of which are visible from the clubhouse. Both undertakings were completed prior to the 2009 golf season and all the hard work is more than noticeable. With all that said, where you see the greatest impact of the ownerships’ efforts are in the clubhouse and on the greens.
When you talk about the clubhouse, it’s important to begin with the staff, and the group at Westminster National is friendly and informative. There’s no better way to get your round off to a good start than leaving the Pro Shop with a smile on your face. The next thing you will notice is a new Cart Garage for the fleet of (relatively) new carts. Again, the staff is there to greet you, talk about the course and get you on your way to the first tee.
In total, Westminster National is less than 6,000 yards from the tips, but it plays much longer. On a weekend afternoon, my foursome was able to finish in 4:40, and that included a casual snack at the turn. The course is in good shape from tee to fairway, and the condition of the greens will truly impress. It’s very rare to find a course will all 18 greens in near perfect shape, but the putting surfaces at Westminster National are immaculate.
So, if you’re heading out to Ravens training camp, make sure to pack the clubs in the trunk and make a day of it. Personally, I can’t wait to make it back to Westminster National; football or no football, the golf experience is worth the drive!