P. B. Dye Club — Heavyweight Ranked
Maybe it would be appropriate for the owners of the P.B. Dye Golf Club in Ijamsville, Maryland, to hire ring announcer Michael Buffer to greet golfers at the first tee. You can hear him now. “Ladies and Gentleman, in this corner, one of the Toughest Courses in America . . . P.B. Dye Golf Club . . . Are You Ready to Rumble!” I do this all with tongue in cheek, not discrediting what is a powerful ranking for any golf club to wear around their waist. When the March edition hit the streets nationwide, this course was included in the Golf Digest’s rankings of “America’s 50 Toughest Golf Courses.”
P.B. Dye Golf Club ranks in as the 26th Toughest Course in America. The course has achieved other notable rankings, being listed as one of the top daily fee, public golf facilities in Maryland and in the entire mid-Atlantic by various publications. But this one has some pizzazz to it. Look at the other courses listed. It’s a virtual who’s who of America’s most recognized courses. Number one: The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island…Number Five: Oakmont, site of this year’s U.S.Open…Number Fourteen: TPC Sawgrass. Other famous courses that made the list were Bethpage Black, Winged Foot, Medinah, and Pine Valley. The only other regional course that made the list was Royal New Kent: the late Mike Strantz designed tribute to Ireland golf in Williamsburg, VA.
It didn’t take this latest ranking for most area golfers to realize the challenge level found at P.B. Dye Golf Club. In fact, the owners tweaked down the difficulty meter shortly after the course’s 1999 opening. Set on 250 acres of farmland just southeast of Frederick, the course is nothing short of spectacular. Dye throws obstacles and tests at your game like two boxers throwing haymakers at the end of a great prize fight. In the Golf Digest article, Dye was quoted as saying “I’m a golfer’s worst nightmare−a bulldozer operator with a scratch handicap and an Irish sense of humor.” P.B.’s unmistakable trademarks are all there including moguls, mounds, pot bunkers, and railroad ties, which I have affectionately dubbed “Dye-Tie’s.” The par 72 plays over 7000 yards from the back tees, but four other sets provide ample selections of the right ones to fit your game. The Sugarloaf Mountains serve as the backdrop as well as an impressive clubhouse which sets above both the ninth and eighteenth greens. Everything at P.B. Dye Golf Club is built on a grand scale with wide fairways, huge greens and immense bunkers. The bentgrass playing surface is normally fast so expect a lot of roll and the Penn G-2 greens are some of the best in the area. Since we have been talking about the course, and its toughness, why not highlight the hard-hitting holes that will definitely leave an impression on your golf game. The front nine features a trio of par 4’s on holes four through six that are equally difficult. The fourth has what may be the most treacherous approach shot on the course. A good drive will leave a short iron into a green protected by a pond to the right and cavernous bunkers around the remainder of the putting surface. Anything on the arena floor here is good. The tale of the tape shows the fifth hole measuring 483 from the tips, while the sixth clocks in at 463 yards. Those heavyweight distances provide strong tests. The closing hole on the front, also a par 4, has a pond tucked next to the green on the right side. Anything left or long around the green is safe, so choose wisely from the fairway.
The back nine starts with a couple of visual delights that Chef Dye has cooked up for you. The tenth is a par 4, not long in length, but intimidating from the tee box with heavy bunkering all over the place. The formula here is fairway, green, two putts, and walk to the next tee. The par 3 eleventh is an island green and unlike most that are bulk-headed, here Dye uses railroad ties to accent the fortress. To access the green, you must walk the plank, I mean wooden bridge. The only thing missing at this creative hole is Johnny Depp in a puffy shirt. ARRR! A mighty drive is needed on the par 5 twelfth. Aim your tee shot over the rock at the crest of the hill. From there you can either chose to lay up or be a contender and go for the green in two. The par 4 sixteenth has a ton of sand and more of those railroad ties. Steer clear of the trouble, and par can be had. The closer is a wonderful par 4 where a good drive sets up your final approach. Don’t let the waterfall to the left of the green distract you. Clear the ravine, avoid the ponds and deep bunkers and see if you can make it to the final bell. It’s the type of hole that can provide a knock-out punch to your round.
In my business, I’ve had the pleasure to send many golfers from all over the East Coast to P.B. Dye Golf Club as part of their golf trip to the Frederick area. When they ask me about the golf course, they are told right up front that this is a tough test that will challenge all facets of your game. To be honest, it’s that type of course that adds excitement to your round. So, strap on your golf gloves, and step into the ring with a true heavyweight, P.B. Dye Golf Club, and give it your best shot. Besides, isn’t it the challenge that makes this a GAME!