An open message to those golfing motorists on Route 108 (near the intersection of Route 29) in Howard County: Patience, please.
Those golfers you may see occasionally are simply getting a preview of the first nine holes of the new Fairway Hills Golf Club. The official opening is set for the weekend of Sept. 2-3, with the second nine expected to open in the spring.
The Columbia course is not long by today's standards (four sets of tees giving an 18-hole yardage ranging from 4,454 to 6,206), but it is relatively tight and demanding.
The length from the back tees may not sound like much, but several of the holes will give players all they can handle, and, overall, the likelihood of hitting every club.
"It's not long, but it calls for a variety of shots, and the need to keep the ball in play is easier said than done," says Bill Neus, the supervisor of maintenance for the new layout and Hobbit's Glen GC, its Columbia neighbor.
Neus remains as course superintendent at Hobbit's, where the Catonsville native has been for 14 years, and Ryland "Chappie" Chapman, former Hobbit's assistant, moves over to Fairway Hills as head superintendent.
Joan Lovelace, the first girl to play on a boys golf team in Howard County when she was a student at Howard High School, and more recently an 11-year pro at Hobbit's Glen, is the new head professional.
The course covers much of the same property as the old Allview course, which closed some 10 years ago. At that time, houses, and the eventual rebuilding of the course were in the master plan.
"Two things we wanted to accomplish were to make it affordable and to provide juniors and beginners with an entry to the game without the feeling of being intimidated or overwhelmed," said Bob Bellamy, the Columbia Association's director of operations. "It's not a classic, but it is going to provide enjoyment for a lot of people."
Various membership plans are available, either by joining Fairway Hills GC or by being a member of the Columbia Association.
Information is available from (410) 730-1112.
New amateur tour
At first glance, the concept seemed plausible, but the logistics appeared unworkable, and there were questions as to the supply of players. Three months later, the new Chesapeake Bay Amateur Tour is flourishing.
Players are divided into four groups by handicap, with as many as 40 playing in each group, two groups to a site. There have been four tournaments -- all on weekend dates -- so far, and almost all have had full fields.
Among the top Division I players (0-6 handicaps) are Vance Welch, two wins and a tie for second, and Jim Grigsby, two wins; Division II (7-10) -- Larry Den has had four top-five finishes. Division III (11-14) -- The leader is Jonathan Ziegler, a first and a second; Division IV (15-18) -- Scott Glaze has had four top-five finishes, including a victory.
The winners (including ties for first): Grigsby, Welch, Bart Mease in I; Randy Vernet, Shelvie Holmes, Pat Simoneau, Gene Gavin in Ziegler, Russell Hall, Charles Lahatte Jr., Malcolm Gwynne in III; Glaze, Glenn Martin, James Curl, Gary Arter, Paul Holt in IV.
Tournament information is available from Jeff Stetler (410) 203-0326.
Maryland Team Cup
Qualifying is under way at area clubs to choose two-man teams for this second annual tournament. Information is available from Alec Brogan at (410) 581-9700.