By: Tim Baines
No need to wistfully look out your window in March, staring down snowbanks and wondering when you can put your golf clubs to good use again.
An underrated, but much appreciated golf destination is just a few hours away – you can hop in the car and drive there and for those in Ontario and Quebec, it’s about half the distance it is to get to Myrtle Beach.
Golf in Ocean City, a wonderful seaside Maryland town, is a good way to get rid of the winter blues from March into April and beyond.
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 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. The courses, with nice touches from a Who’s Who 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 have kept regulars going back for more.
“I know a fella who’s from Quebec and he has a timeshare down here,” said Hunt Crosby, general manager of the River Run Golf Club. “He comes down here for the whole month of February. ‘I said to him, ‘Dude, why on earth wouldn’t you come down in May?’ He says, ‘Hey, compared to up there, this is not too bad.’
“Obviously anything can happen any day, but compared to having snow on the ground … by mid-March, the golf courses are very playable here in Ocean City. April can be fantastic. We’ve got some terrific golf courses in our area. You can find a day to play almost any week of the year down here. It may not be perfect, but it’ll be okay.”
Turns out the ocean has a warming effect on the area. “It sounds odd, but one of the reasons why people like coming here in the summer time is the ocean makes it about 10 degrees cooler,” said Crosby. “The reverse is true in late winter, early spring. There’s a town 20 minutes from me – Salisbury – where one day they get a snowstorm and we only get a little rain and we’re playing golf.”
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.”
“For some golfers, you can come here, you drive in the morning, you play golf in the afternoon and you’re home for dinner,” said Crosby. “That has a big appeal to folks.”
Another thing going for Ocean City is the proximity of everything to the golf courses. “I used to take groups to Myrtle Beach, we’d get up in the morning and drive an hour to get to a golf course,” said Crosby. “That just doesn’t happen here. You stay in Ocean City and you’re teeing it up in 30 minutes.”
If you’re Canadian and sweating the exchange rates, consider that gas prices are considerably cheaper, along with things like food and beer – hello, Happy Hour. There’s 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 by Gary Player, 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 Resort (a Nicklaus Signature property on the water, with great views), Rum Pointe (13-of-18 holes have views of the water) and Baywood Greens with its arboretum-like setting and is called the Augusta of the North.
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.
Said Crosby: “Because it’s a vacation destination on its own, there are a ton of terrific restaurants down here, some pretty cool bars and nightlife. There’s lots of stuff to do and everything is close. Ocean City has always prided itself on being a family destination. It’s a safe, nice, laid-back environment. We’re in the south so southern hospitality certainly helps as well.”
As for the golf, well, there’s something for everyone.
“River Run is a terrific golf course, it’s strong enough that a good player can enjoy it,” said Crosby. “The average guy plays River Run and has a great time. It doesn’t beat you up. But I’ve got news for you, you go to play Baywood or Bayside or Lighthouse Sound – you play those from the back tees, you’d better bring your game with you.”
Then there’s the beauty of the courses and the area. “Scenery helps, we’re near the water and we’ve got several golf courses overlooking the bays and tributaries,” said Crosby. “They’re just beautiful settings.”
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 that has its own distillery you can tour. There are also some fantastic sports bars like the Green Turtle and BJ’s on the Water.
Canadian visitors are very important for Ocean City – for years, many groups and individuals have found out what a treasure the area is for golf and so much more.
If you’re looking to book a trip to Ocean City, check out www.pamsgolfoc.com or give them a call at 1-800-447-0109.
There’s a terrific bargain in March that includes three rounds of fantastic golf, two nights, carts, green fees and taxes for only $139 per person.*
Or you can take advantage of another sweet spring deal for only $86 per night per person**. The Golf Gods Deal includes:
- Three rounds of golf (one at River Run by Gary Player)
- Three nights in a four-bedroom, three-bath River Run Golf Villa
- Unlimited range balls and use of the practice facilities
- Complimentary snacks & a complimentary drink voucher for each person at the Starr Restaurant at River Run
- 20% merchandise discount at the River Run Pro Shop,
- Unlimited afternoon golf at River Run for only the cart fee
- Use of tennis and swimming facilities, housekeeping service, carts, green fees and taxes.
No matter what courses you play or what accommodations you choose for your Ocean City Golf Vacation, one thing is guaranteed – you will have a fantastic time!
*Price based on groups of four with double occupancy traveling weekends in March. Price may vary based on dates, courses and accommodation. Other restrictions may apply.
** Price point based on eight occupancy traveling weekdays in March. Price will vary based on dates of travel and courses selected. Afternoon Unlimited Golf requires at least one scheduled round of golf at River Run in the package. Unlimited Golf is based on space available and must be played after 12 p.m. Afternoon round is paid to the pro shop on the day of play. Unlimited Afternoon golf cannot be used with any other River Run course special. Certain restrictions apply.