6,523 yards, 118 slope from the Blues

Course:  Down in Ocean City, Maryland, Rum Pointe is a collaborative design by Pete Dye and his youngest son, P.B. Dye.  Locally, P.B. is responsible for the favored Iron Valley GC while Pete Dye certainly needs no reference because, well, he’s Pete Dye.  The father son duo have teamed up a few other times, including at Nutters Crossing also in OC, Prestwick CC in Myrtle Beach and West Bay GC in Naples, FL.

Before getting to the course, let me just say that Ocean City, MD is a very underrated golf destination.  From Northern DE about 25 minutes away down to where Rum Pointe is located, there are a handful of very well designed courses down here by the likes of Robert Trent Jones, Nicklaus, Player and Arthur Hills.  Green fees are quite reasonable and so are lodging options for the most part.  Off season, such as late September, you get less crowds and everything else costs much less.  Just a couple hours from Philly, OC is an attractive alternative to the NJ shore.

I used to vacation in OC every summer and have played many of the area’s courses.  Rum Pointe is my favorite.  Those that tense up and prepare for a battle every time they hear they’re playing a Dye design will be pleasantly surprised here, as the Dyes favored fun over challenge, all while maintaining enough subtlety with the approach shots and greens to keep the round intriguing.  It can be characterized as a links style course, as the front nine is open and relies on water hazards, contouring and bunkering for shaping while the back nine loops into the surrounding woods until coming back out to the bay for the closing few holes.  Most tee shots are generous, but the fun here comes from managing the short par 4’s, as well as most approach shots and short game decisions.  The greens here are the most subtle challenge, and while many may be happy with getting on in regulation, the work is usually far from over to get that par.  The course is set along Assateague Bay and provides a scenic backdrop, while winds can gust through the area, providing another level of challenge that definitely commands attention. With great conditions and a course that fits my eye, I find Rum Pointe to be an enjoyable course that requires enough strategy and skill to stay interesting every time I play it.

I was in OC recently and had the fortune of playing 45 holes here over a couple days, from early morning to being one of the last players on the course at the end of the day.  I enjoyed every hole, whether good or bad score, and was never bored or wondering if I should go elsewhere.  That’s worth a lot as far as I’m concerned.

After waking up in my room that overlooked the boardwalk and ocean, I was able to catch the sun rise before heading over to RP, which was about 15 minutes away.  After warming up the range, waking up with some coffee and fine tuning my putting, the OC golf marathon began.

The First is a 396 yard par 4 (from the Blues).  The fairway is wide, but there are bunkers tucked in to the left while rough is wide right and if you’re very long off the tee, there are bunkers that come into play on the right center, where the fairway turns left to a green well protected by bunkers with a run off area to the left.  It’s a nice opening hole and typifies what you’ll face throughout the round; a generous tee shot, then the difficulty increasing as you get closer to the hole.

The First

Approach shot territory

A closer look at the green with the run off area

The Second is a 153 yard par 3.  The green slopes left to right towards a slew of bunkers, while mounds with rough are along the left of the green, making for a tough chip shot.  The green is deep and bends to the right around the bunkers.  I personally like hitting to the front of the green, erring on short, to avoid all the other trouble.

The Second

From the green

The Third is a 484 par 5.  I like getting a taste of a par 4, 3 and 5 on the first three holes.  It’s a dog leg right, with water along the entire right side and mounds along the left.  Again, things don’t get too dicey until the approach shot with the green, which creases at the middle and falls off both the front and back.  Strokes can pile up if you mis hit your approach and putting will be a challenge, but generally it’s a nice scoring hole.

The Third

Moving down the fairway

Approach shot territory

The Fourth is a 367 yard par 4.  The tee shot is a bit of a risk reward, as there is a bunker on the inside of the dog leg left, tempting those to try and cut the turn for a shorter approach.  Hitting it straight out from the tee probably takes driver out of play for many, so either shape that tee shot or hit something shorter for a longer approach into a green that has bunkers on the right.

The Fourth

Approach shot territory

The Fifth is a 153 yard par 3.  Yep, same exact distance as the par 3 Second.  This hole brings water into play on the left side while mounding protects the right side and makes for some tough downhill chip shots from that side bringing the water back into play.  In many ways, this hole is set up like the Second.

The Fifth, from the Sixth tee.  The Fifth tee would be off to the right of the photo

The Sixth is a 372 yard par 4.  A deceiving tee shot, as it appears with water on both sides you need to thread your tee shot, but the fairway is actually quite wide.  And while there are bunkers along both sides of the hole, they really don’t come into play unless you really mis hit it.  The green is nice and open as well.  Another nice scoring hole and although the Fourth through Sixth seem a little trite, the next three holes close out the front nine very well.

The Sixth

Approach shot territory

The Seventh is a 434 yard par 4.  The course starts stretching its legs a little, with a tee shot where a bunker on the right and OB on the left come into play.  The second shot is a little longer than seen on prior holes, and anything in the rough almost makes it a bogey hole.  The green is wide though, almost making up for the hole’s length and the rough.

Second shot territory of the Seventh

The Eighth is a 517 yard par 5.  It’s a great par 5, as you tee off with the bay on your left, and the fairway turns slight left right around where your tee ball lands if you hit straight, forcing you to consider shaping your tee shot so it stays on the fairway.  There is then a decision to be made about what type of second and third shot you want, as the green is raised and well protected by a bunker on the front left, with bunkers on the right as you keep getting closer to the green, making an aerial approach almost mandatory.  It’s one of my favorite holes on the course.

The Eighth

Second shot territory

Approach shot territory

The Ninth leads you back to the clubhouse as a 396 par 4.  The tee shot looks more intimidating that it is, although anything left is in water.  Likewise, water encroaches into the front left side of the green, which is enough to raise hairs on your approach.  And there are enough mounds and rough to keep you honest along the right, keeping the water relevant throughout the hole.  Another one of my favorites.

The Ninth

Approach shot territory

The front nine is a nice loop cutting into the woodlands a little before marching out to the bay and along it, before heading back to the clubhouse.  There’s a lot of variety and fun shots to be had, along with nice scenery, although a few of the middle holes felt slightly contrived.  Ranking them, I’d go 8, 9, 1, 7, 3, 4, 2, 6, 5.

The back nine starts with the 485 par 5, a perfect opportunity to start off with a good score.  The hole dog leg slightly to the right, then runs right into the green, with woods on the left and water on the right.    I’m a big fan of one of the yardage markers on this hole as well.

The Tenth

The Eleventh is a 346 yard par 4.  The course is now right in the woods, so the fairway is treelined on both sides.  The approach is to a terrific green, which has a little nook on the front left and with the pin some times located down in that area, makes for some fun approach shots and putts.  We played from the White tees a couple times and a guy in my group drove the green, but was above the pin when it was in that nook and three jacked for a par.

The Eleventh

Approach shot territory

The Twelfth is a 357 yard par 4.  The hole turns left early and with a bunker on the inside of the turn, there are choices to be made on the tee.  The green is small, demanding a more precise approach shot, or else you’ll be in the rough.

The Twelfth

Approach shot territory

The Thirteenth is a 481 yard par 5.  It’s a severe dog leg right that tempts you to cut the corner, but there is a bunker that wraps around the entire left side of the hole.  The green is also raised and well guarded, and with the tee shot, adequately ensures it stays a three shotter.  I enjoyed playing it, and did so differently each time I teed it up.

The Thirteenth

Making the turn and the green straight away

Approach shot territory

The Fourteenth is a 203 yard par 3, yet can play even longer when the wind is up.  I think this hole has changed in the last few years; I remember a lot of real tall grass on the right where there is now a very large bunker, but either way, the hole favors the left side, yet the raised green ensures you need to hold it or else are left with a challenging pitch from the rough.  Probably my favorite par 3 on the course.

The Fourteenth

The Fifteenth is a 384 yard par 4, yet feels like one of the tougher holes on the course.  The tee is set straight out at a tangling of bunkers, while the fairway is on the right.  The green is hidden in raised mounds and has numerous tiers, giving a lot of options for pin placements and generally making the approach shot something to really consider.  The green reminded me something you’d find at PGA Stadium, but it fit in here with the right amount of fun versus challenge.

The Fifteenth

The aforementioned tanglement of bunkers

Approach shot territory from the only spot you get a clear look at the green, the rough over on the right

The Sixteenth is a 425 yard par 4.  You are officially out of the trees and again along the bay.  If the wind is up, this turns into a much more vicious hole.  The bay comes into play along the entire right side while the left is fairly open.  The green is tucked more into the bay, forcing most shots to either make sure you don’t over hit into it or you’ll have to try to draw it over the water onto the green.  Again, if the wind is up, all bets are off.

The Sixteenth

Approach shot territory

Further up the fairway

The Seventeenth is the last par 3 at 158 yards.  There are bunkers on either side of the green, but otherwise it’s a straight shot onto a rather large green.  I suppose this is on purpose, because again, if the wind is up, this is one of those holes where you could go 3 clubs up.  If the wind isn’t up, it’s a nice scoring opportunity.

The Seventeenth

The Eighteenth leads back to the clubhouse and is a 412 yard par 4.  It’s a dog leg right around water with not too much trouble on the left.  Bunkers are then protecting the green on both sides, along with mounds for good measure.  The green is deep yet narrow, so plan your approach shot accordingly and take in the great surroundings before tapping in that birdie.

The Eighteenth

Approach shot territory

I like the back nine more, because of the diversity of surroundings going from the woods to the bay and facing different elements of nature in the process.  The holes are a little more distinct and require creativity, along with a little recovery magic if you end up in the wrong spots.  I’d rank them 18, 13, 15, 16, 14, 10, 11, 12, 17.

Generally, Rum Pointe is a tamer Dye design, although I have no point of reference for courses designed by the father-son Dye duo.  I really enjoyed the bentgrass fairways and greens, which is a rarity in this area.  As a vacation destination, the course does a great job with its presentation while still holding interest and challenge without any rage inducing difficulty you can find else where.  As I have said, it’s my favorite course in OC and maintained its interest even with the extensive repeat play I put on it.

Gripes:  They need something to scoop the balls at the range.  I got tired of trying to pick up enough balls to hit with my hands.  Cart girl beer prices were a little rich.  Playing in the late afternoon, I was essentially slaughtered by blood thirsty mosquitoes, which caused intense scratching for like a week.  It was pretty bad.

Bar/grill:  A nice outside seating balcony and indoor area with a couple t.v.’s and a simple bar menu.  It’s meant for the golfers and is good by me.

Clubhouse:  A nice selection of gear for sure.

Practice area:  A nice putting green where you can chip, as well as a grass range that comes with unlimited balls with the price of the green fee.

Nearby:  A couple other courses, but that’s pretty much it.

Getting there:  About 15 minutes off the boardwalk, you take the bridge back out of OC, then make a left after passing Hooper’s.