By TIM BAINES
When the temperatures are starting to drop and it’s getting cool in these northern parts, the deals are heating up in a terrific resort town in Maryland.
No need to put the golf clubs away, there’s fantastic golf with a southern feel – and you don’t have to drive all day and night to get there.
If it’s not on your radar, Ocean City should be. It’s not just about the golf – the restaurants, the nightlife and the natural beauty of an oceanside destination are all off the charts – but if you’re a golfer, you’re going to find an awesome selection of courses, more than 20 of them. We’re not just talking average pastures, many of these courses – with the genius of designers like Arthur Hills, Jim Furyk, Pete Dye, Gary Player, Robert Trent Jones and Jack Nicklaus – have won awards, they’re on national hot lists and for years, they’ve kept regulars coming back for more.
With breathtaking views of the Assawoman Bay at Lighthouse Sound to the spectacular landscape found at the historic War Admiral, the courses offer an experience you won’t soon forget.
Ocean City is a day-time drive away for many – it’s less than 10 hours from Montreal and Ottawa, about 11 hours from Toronto and it’s even closer for many in the northeastern U.S. The proximity to Ocean City for Canadians is summed up in a tagline: “Save the long drive for the golf course.”
“We’re half the distance to Myrtle Beach … at least for you guys. So there’s a geographic reason people want to come here,” said Hunt Crosby, general manager of the very-nice River Run Golf Club. “We’ve got some really terrific golf courses. And we’re just far enough south that you get a little taste of southern hospitality. It’s a friendly area.”
You already get plenty of bang for your buck, but Ocean City’s Harrison Group has stepped it up with promotions and some smoking-hot special packages. Among the specials you can find The Works package (“everything thrown in but the kitchen sink”) that will cost you $100 US per night per person for groups of eight or more. You get three “superior” rounds of golf, three nights accommodation, daily breakfast, a free appetizer, a free $50 gas card for the group, a free Wilson sand wedge for each golfer, free $10 course bucks which can be used at Bayside Resort, free $10 course bucks for Bear Trap Dunes and a free Happy Hour.
As it turns out, September, leading into October, then into November are great times to pack a suitcase and your golf clubs and book a golf trip to Ocean City.
“Ocean City itself is seasonal, primarily a beach resort, but there are still plenty of places open in October and there’s no summer crowd,” said Crosby. “You get good golf, decent prices and typically good weather.”
Golfers from Canada and the northeastern U.S. have long been strong customers for Ocean City. There are fantastic accommodation options, a great selection of restaurants, eight miles of nightclubs, 10 miles of beautiful beaches and a three-mile boardwalk.
If you’re Canadian and sweating the exchange rates, consider that gas prices are considerably cheaper, along with things like food and beer – yep, Happy Hours are alive and well. There’s definitely a fun factor in a town that’s built to host about eight million visitors annually. Close by for sightseeing and major sporting events are Washington, Philadelphia and Baltimore.
Among the golf courses you can play in the Ocean City area: River Run, Links at Lighthouse Sound (the Pebble Beach of the East, with 16 holes having views of the bay and sound – it’s been ranked 75th on Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Courses you can play in the U.S ), Eagle’s Landing, Bayside (a Nicklaus Signature property on the water, with great views), Rum Pointe (13-of-18 holes have views of the water) and Baywood Greens.
River Run very much has the Gary Player feel to it.
Said Crosby: “When Gary designs a golf course, he designs something the average golfer can play. It’s very player friendly. It doesn’t beat you up either in terms of length or forced carries. He’s a big believer the average golfer ought to be able to run the ball up on the green most of the time.”
What makes the Ocean City story more amazing is the amount of punch a town with such a small population most of the year can pack. The 10-mile island is home to about 12,000 people, a number that explodes to about 400,000 during the summer tourist season.
There are craft breweries, vineyards and plenty of other things that make the après-golf experience enjoyable.
“We’re fortunate because Ocean City is such a boom town in the summer, that supports some great restaurants,” said Crosby.
Among the places you should check out when you visit: The Sunset Grille and Ristorante Antipasti, a “world-class Italian restaurant.” Another must-visit is Seacrets, an extremely popular restaurant, bar and nightclub. There are also sports bars like the Green Turtle.
Canadian visitors are very important for Ocean City – for years, many groups and individuals have found out what a treasure it is for golf and so much more.
There are plenty of golf packages available – some of the deals include breakfasts, lunches and dinners – check out tee1off.com for more details, or call 1-800-833-1633.