New clubhouse unites 2 golf courses

Players: A 6,000- square-foot facility that opened last year brings amenities and an upscale feel to The Woodlands and Diamond Ridge.


September 26, 2004|By Anne Lauren Henslee | Anne Lauren Henslee,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Golfers at The Woodlands/Diamond Ridge courses in Woodlawn are enjoying the new clubhouse, a $1.8 million project that opened in October after nearly 1 1/2 years in planning and construction.

Almost all Woodlands/Diamond Ridge regulars had long tired of the small structure that had been the makeshift clubhouse since the birth of Diamond Ridge in the late 1960s. With the inception of The Woodlands, in its seventh season, came added expectation.

It was only a matter of time and money, said Tim Butler, assistant general manager for the Diamond Ridge and the Woodlands courses, who described the former clubhouse as small but functional for one course.

"But now that we have two [courses], it just wasn't able to handle the amount of players we have coming through," he said.

With backing from the Baltimore County Revenue Authority's Golf Division, which oversees The Woodlands, Diamond Ridge, Greystone, Rocky Point and Longview, the improvement project was approved in 2002.

The 6,000-square-foot clubhouse replaced a facility built decades ago on the 400-acre site. It serves both 18-hole courses and features an expanded pro shop and a grillroom with inside and outside seating.

Wheeler Goodman Masek & Associates Inc., an Annapolis architectural firm, designed the clubhouse. Century Engineering of Towson served as the engineer for the project.

Without adequate amenities to house larger groups, the courses were missing an opportunity to fully promote the themselves and to serve the large numbers of players - about 40,000 a year at The Woodlands and 60,000 at Diamond Ridge, according to Butler.

"The old shack cheapened the experience and didn't fit in with the caliber of the courses," said John Samoryk, a lawyer for the Maryland Stadium Authority.

Samoryk has played the courses about 15 times in the past few years, three times since the opening of the clubhouse.

"The Woodlands, in particular, has always been considered to be one of the nicest courses in the Baltimore area," he said. "Not only is it a really nice course, but it also is reasonably priced. The clubhouse gives it a more upscale feel and adds to the quality overall."

"We tried to focus on the golf experience, taking into account the way the course and the returning greens were all programmatically laid out," said Edward J. Masek Jr. of the architectural firm.

The clubhouse kitchen is on the east side of the building, near the ninth green, and the pro shop and administrative offices are on the west side. The pro-shop windows look out to the first tee-boxes on both courses, for "visual control," Masek said. Common areas, such as the locker and grille room, are in the center.

The courses also were upgraded, with a $100,000 bunker restoration project and a $60,000 cart-path renovation project at Diamond Ridge and fairway top-dressing at The Woodlands.

Samoryk and other area golf enthusiasts proclaim The Woodlands to be one of the finest courses in the county. With well-manicured fairways and greens, it offers a grander game compared with Diamond Ridge's shorter length and more forgiving rough. But both have their followings.

Masek said the clubhouse was designed to bring together both worlds and provide amenities that had long been missing.

Initially, David Wilson, a research scientist for the National Institute on Aging, didn't realize that he had seen the former clubhouse, until someone mentioned the new one. Wilson had played the courses several times before but overlooked the small, one-story metal and frame structure that had housed mainly restrooms.

"The new clubhouse is a vast difference, and within the realm of what the course is trying to portray," said Wilson, who plays the courses about eight times a year. "From a player's perspective, it's nice that it's there."

Allan Krausz agreed. A financial adviser with A.G. Edwards, Krausz attended an event at the clubhouse in the spring. It was his first time at The Woodlands. He was so impressed that this summer he returned with three friends for a round of golf.

"I had a pleasant time at the event," Krausz said. "Everything was done very nicely. It resembled a clubhouse in a private club. The people were professional and courteous. The pro shop appeared to be well-appointed and had lots of inventory. All in all, it was a nice experience."

Krausz's experience is one that Butler and others at the courses hope to duplicate many times over. With its first year almost complete, the clubhouse has helped draw an expanded customer base to the successful courses, said Butler, who estimated that it has been used for about 50 corporate and charity golf outings this year.

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