Golfers say new course is a hit

Compass Pointe opens to welcome crowds, but greens fees raise eyebrows

October 26, 2003|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

Golfers often aren't very good with numbers.

On Friday at the new Compass Pointe golf course, David Charon hit two shots from the tee, one from the fairway, took two putts on the green and wrote down "4" on his scorecard.

But at the new Pasadena course, here are some numbers that are drawing golfers' attention:

34 - That's how many years it has been since the county government was last involved in opening a golf course.

36 - That's how many holes Compass Pointe will offer. The first 18 opened Oct. 10; the next 18 are scheduled to open in the summer.

It will consist of 18 holes of links golf - Scottish-style holes without trees - and 18 holes of traditional American layout, through trees and across water. Nine of each are open.

5 - That's how many miles Norm Murphy, a 28-year resident of Pasadena, says he drives to reach the course. "There's been a drought in terms of [nearby] courses we can play," he says. "For a local guy we're talking five miles vs. 20."

Lots of 8s - To golfers they're known as unwelcome "snowmen" for the curved features they cast on a scorecard. They dotted the scorecards last week of several golfers who were putting on Compass Pointe's fast greens, hitting across its muddy creeks or blasting out of its deep sand bunkers.

$65 - That's how much it costs to play Compass Pointe on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. It's $55 during the week.

Those fees have caused a little bit of a stir.

"The only drawback is price," said Tom Rigney of Bel Air before he teed off Friday on the 10th hole.

The only other county-affiliated course, the 34-year-old Dwight D. Eisenhower course in Crownsville, costs $46 per round on weekends.

Baltimore County has two courses that cost $60 or more per round to play on weekends. Howard County's course costs up to $42 on weekends.

"I'd say we're midrange," said Brian Rhodes, general manager of Compass Pointe.

A little less than two years ago, Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks Director Dennis M. Callahan told The Sun that a round of golf at Compass Pointe would cost $35.

He said last week that he wasn't aware of the $65 price until recently. "I personally would hope that at some point in time that price would be lowered," Callahan said.

Though the county government has taken a keen interest in the course - County Executive Janet S. Owens dropped by for a checkup Friday - its officials don't run the course or set the fees, Callahan said.

The county purchased land for it more than a decade ago and acquired more through a deal with developers. The Maryland Economic Development Corp. - a quasi-public nonprofit - developed the course.

MEDCO sold about $17 million in construction bonds to finance the project. When those bonds are paid off in 25 to 30 years, MEDCO will turn over the course to Anne Arundel, county officials said.

For now, Casper Management, which manages the Eisenhower golf course, also runs the new course. It will hold an official grand opening after it opens the driving range and expansive putting green, Rhodes said.

The course has been a long time coming.

Its development was delayed in 2000 when a golf course development company threatened legal action against MEDCO's involvement. The General Assembly passed a law in 2001 that allowed development to move forward.

In August, the county issued a stop-work order after receiving complaints of sediment running into nearby waterways.

David Charon's threesome had water troubles of its own Friday. Ed Monteiro skipped his ball across the lake on No. 14, landing it in high grass. But the three golfers will return, they said.

"Sixty-five dollars may be expensive," said Charon, 41, of Ellicott City, "but it's going to be worth it."

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