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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Baltimore Country Club (West) - by Bob Cupp and Tom KIte

Baltimore Country Club (West Course)
4712 Club Road
Baltimore, MD 21210

Par 72
Architects: Bob Cupp and Tom KIte
Design: Four stars (all stats out of seven)
Natural setting: Four stars
Conditioning: Excellent for spring
Value: Six stars - (when combined with east course) the initiation fees are reputedly a fraction of those asked by clubs in the northeast and the yearly fee for couples and families is one of the best country club bargains in the country.
Overall: Four stars (West course only)

OK so it's not the East Course, but this hilly parkland layout does what a second course is supposed to do...a) alleviate play on the primary course enough to "give it a rest," b) provide a fun low key, low impact challenge and c) have asome personality of it's own.

The yearly rounds are split 18K on the east, 16K on the west, so it's serving purpose a. The women, kids, seniors and everyone else will find it eminently walkable, quick to play and very player friendly. There's b.

As for c, well the whole seems to be greater than the sun of the parts. There are a few good holes and a few average holes, nothing life changeing, but nothing awful. It's a 1991 redisgn of a local designer's work (Ed Alt...sp?).

Some holes feel very natural and are the ones that work the best, notably 2 and 4 with nice natural looking dells and sculpting, 8 for its great false front green and opposing bunker (Cupp/Kite pose some good approach shot strategic problems), 12 with its great green swales and 15. There is a nice mix of uphill and downhill approaches and shot shaping requirements. Some r to l, some l to r.

When they get too "moundy" and add cops (OB on 5), things devolve a bit. Also, 6 and 11 seem too similar for my liking.

One person once opined in their book that they thought there was a warrant out for Cupp/Kite's arrest after doing the redesign. Back in 1991 that may have been true as the west has the same setting as the east, but is far more modern. With 15 years hindsight, it's fair to say the difference now is comparatively tame...what would the members have done if the pair gave them Liberty Nat'l? Probly draw and quarter them.

All in all I was expecting something more modern, but was pleasantly surprised. The club could not have been more friendly and inviting and the overall experience was exactly what a great golf day is supposed to be, fun and relaxing.


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