Say `timber' to trees at Troy

Alterations: The county-owned Elkridge golf course is getting a makeover with a new road, its first water hole and woods removal.

Howard At Play

April 25, 2004|By Lowell E. Sunderland | Lowell E. Sunderland,SUN STAFF

Golfers teeing it up on the 10th hole at Timbers at Troy Golf Course in Elkridge have been accustomed to seeing a veritable wall of tall trees on their left, defining a long, straight fairway that slopes continuously downhill.

Pull your drive not very much left, and forget it; the woods ate your ball.

No more.

This spring, the trees are gone, dozens of them, and golfers on their first outings of spring are finding unexpected companionship at the popular public course, which is owned by the county's Department of Recreation and Parks.

A $1 million road is being built -- a long-planned extension of Marshalee Drive, which still dead-ends into Timbers at Troy's parking lot and its clubhouse.

And, coincidentally, several other alterations are going in, the most significant being construction of the course's first water hole.

In the words of Gary J. Arthur, recreation and parks director, Timbers at Troy -- which he loves to play -- is undergoing "a change in complexion" that will make it "a little noisier in places," though essentially the same course competitively.

"We're anticipating that people will be patient with us," Arthur said.

By late summer, golfers on the par 4 third hole will have to drive their first shot across a deep, maybe 50-yard-wide storm water pond that has been gouged out to catch water runoff from senior citizen housing being built on higher ground north of the course.

Across the pond and backing up the fairway there, they'll also find themselves confronted with a new, high sand bunker, a better target from new tees that have been roughed in, said Kyle Warfield, the course's PGA pro and general manager.

Temporarily, that hole has been reduced to a par 3 because of nearby road work; on weekends, it reverts to being a par 4. Arthur said that work has a budget of about $130,000.

One hole, the short, par 4 sixth, is temporarily closed because its green has been rebuilt since last fall -- for about $50,000 -- to correct drainage issues unrelated to road construction.

Greens fees have been reduced temporarily to reflect the missing sixth.

Warfield said he expects the hole to be reopened by early June, and golfers will have access again to the full 18-hole course.

Speaking of bunkers, the course's sand traps all have been renewed during the winter with bright white sand -- the order was for 996 tons -- that plays strikingly off the sharp green of spring grass.

Timbers maintenance crews also have new mowing equipment for greens, which Warfield said will speed up a ball's role considerably.

But even if, as Warfield insisted, the course will wind up relatively the same from a player's perspective, with the new third-hole pond something to talk about, that new road remains an inescapable big deal.

Maybe 150 yards from the Timbers at Troy clubhouse, mounded, reddish-orange dirt and gravel wind in a continuing scar northeastward into the distance, defining the route that will carry drivers by year's end through the golf course and out to Montgomery Road on the north.

Warfield took a reporter on an impromptu tour of the new roadway last week, building his case "that the most disturbing things for the actual golf course have already been done."

That appeared to be true, but Warfield acknowledged that for weeks to come, players on some holes will have to endure the grinds and growls of heavy earth-moving and shaping equipment, even though the width of fairways and other playing areas remain unchanged.

Work areas seem well-defined with bright orange, plastic fencing.

A few temporary cart paths have been built, some others have been or will be rerouted, and the course will have open shortly three tunnels to permit golf carts and players safe passage beneath the new road, even while it is being built.

Arthur said the Marshalee Drive extension through the course, which virtually surrounds an upscale housing subdivision, Lyndwood, had been in county plans for years. It predated the county's acquisition of land for the golf course, which opened to the public in August 1996.

Hallmarks of the course, which was carved out of 209 acres of mostly wooded land, are trees and extensive natural areas that range from thickets to small marshy areas and brushy streams.

The course is surprisingly hilly in areas.

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