Ocean City’s Great Stay & Play This Fall
By Randall Mann
Throughout the northern States and Canada nightly temperatures are dropping, mornings are brisk and you know that the leaves are not far from change. If you are like most golfers the thought process is not that the season is over…it just needs to move south!
The Google search begins and of course the usual culprits show up: Myrtle Beach, Pebble Beach, Scottsdale, Hilton Head and of course any number of Florida properties.
But if you narrow your focus and insert words like ‘ocean’ and ‘boardwalk’ and ‘within easy driving distance of eastern Canada’ suddenly the choices multiply and become more eclectic.
So many more Canadians are settling on Ocean City, Maryland, a bucolic playpen, lovingly dubbed by locals and visiting golfers as the “Eastern Shores.”
There are 17, count’em, 17, Championship golf courses in the Ocean City area, the 4 we played – spectacular – paired with 10 miles of oceanfront beach, a smorgasbord of restaurants, nightlife and all the shopping you could ever want.
Our troupe of seven fellow Canadian golfers made our first visit earlier this year. While that trip whet our appetite, Ocean City’s Fall golf season offers the full meal deal.
While Canadian courses go into slow decline in the Fall, in Ocean City they reach full bloom, the courses are lush, the ocean offers moderate temps and courses offer a wide gamut of challenges.
But there’s an added extra about a trip to Ocean City…
Maryland is when you start to feel the first hints of the world famous southern hospitality. Yes, Ocean City offers a bridge between north and south, and it is its southern gentility that seeps through, whether you’re booking times at the pro shop or just enjoying cocktails in the hotel bar.
Service is second nature to those welcoming visitors to Ocean City. This was truly exemplified by our hosts of a magnificent week, Harrison Golf Group http://www.tee1off.com and Ocean City Golf Getaway http://www.oceancitygolf.com
“The Eastern Shores is a rare find for Canadians.” says Julian Bugledich, a former international hotel executive from Australia and director of the New Zealand tourist board. He now lives near Toronto, and has played golf in 11 countries. Ocean City’s generous amenities caught him by surprise.
He lauded both the weather and the conditions of the golf courses, and can’t wait to return this October when the whole area will be in full flower.
Maybe that’s the biggest draw about Ocean City: in the spring it gives winter-weary Canadian golfers both a chance to kick-start their season, and to extend it in the Fall.
Best of all, OC is within easy driving distance for visitors from the northeast. Only 11 hours from Toronto and 10 or so from Montreal.
Ocean City has a strange duality. For most of the year (September to April), it’s a quiet, restful and reserved community of 8,000 to 12,000 souls that sits in a tight pocket of land in the Delaware-Maryland-Virginia junction.
In the summer, it swells to 400,000, and this long stringy peninsula houses all the major hotels and boutique brands. Three bridges connect the spit to the mainland, and it’s there that you’ll find the championship layouts that make this area such a joyous jumping off spot for golfers.
Stay & Play Golf in Ocean City is ready-made for the ‘shoulder seasons’ especially the October-November. It’s the only community in Maryland with a bountiful beach (10 miles) and an animated boardwalk (3 miles), and visitors can get chummy with the ever-present Atlantic Ocean.
Check this out…Ocean City’s fall golf packages, 5 night/4 rounds of golf with cart (Sunday to Thursday) provide championship value starting at $216 per person. Our group stayed on a similar package at the Holiday Inn and Suites Oceanfront right off the Boardwalk. During the Fall shoulder season, hotel prices are a fraction of the mid-summer cost, and generally include breakfast.
Do not, not, not, overlook your Welcome Package which includes an Ocean City Golf Getaway card that offers you discounts and incentives to visit some of their supporting partners. FREE drink here, FREE appetizer there, more than a dozen or so to choose from. If you are staying with the Harrison Golf Group, which owns 10 or so properties, there is even more…with my favorite stop being the cozy Harrison Harbor Watch Restaurant and Raw Bar at the south end of the boardwalk overlooking the ocean. Perfect for a sunset.
Delectable delights abound in this seaside smorgasbord of dining experiences. From all you can gorge yourself with crabs at Waterman’s Seafood Co. to a more sensual atmosphere sipping cosmic cocktails rooftop at the Skye Bar or the more refined dining experience, a local favorite and must stop is Sunset Grill.
This strip of land is located in Chesapeake watershed and formed when the inland waterways were engorged by the last glacial melt, circa a long long time ago! In its wake is a kaleidoscope of landforms – swamps, estuaries, rivers, drainage basins, nature conservancies, and lovely grasslands that create some of the best conditions for building golf courses.
All the courses played were unique and spectacular in their own way. Eagles Landing completed my personal tour, proved far tougher than first thought. Views along the inlet only added to the full effect of this rare find. It was once rated the fourth best public/private course in Maryland by Golf Digest and is the first certified Audubon Sanctuary in the state. A variety of marshes and wetlands make this one of the Eastern Shore’s most unique courses.
A must play which requires a little venture north into nearby Delaware to take on the lush offerings of Baywood Greens, lovingly called “Augusta of the North.” It’s visually spectacular, right from its exquisite entranceway and clubhouse, practice facilities to the course itself, and is considered one of the best public facilities in the U.S. Note to self: You will pass one of the biggest “Tax Free” Outlet Malls in the USA!
Now retired and living in Toronto, Bugledich says, “I am surprised more Torontonians don’t put this on their list, Ocean City compares favourably with Myrtle Beach, but with one added bonus: the shorter drive.”
Concludes Bugledich: “While no one can deny the great golf courses in Myrtle, but I was really impressed with the quality of the golf, loved the extremely high caliber and standard of upkeep topped off by the friendliness of the people.”
Many of the golfers are repeat customers. Once you too find Ocean City, you come back again and again and again. Our group will certainly be back. Great golf, bang for your buck all around and relatively close to home.
For more information, we suggest that you visit: Ocean City Golf Getaway www.oceancitygolf.com or call 800-462-4653 Or Harrison Golf Group: http://www.tee1off.com 1-800-833-1633 and book your fall golf getaway package.