Where else would a course be built in homage to two of the greatest thoroughbreds of all time, Man o’ War and War Admiral? Man o’ War has been ranked history’s top horse, once winning a race by 100 lengths (think Michael Jordan with four longer legs). His son, War Admiral, may be most famous for his battle with Seabiscuit (Man o’ War’s grandson), as dramatized in the film of the same name.
GlenRiddle Golf Club (named for the original horse farm) is located just minutes from Ocean City in Berlin, Md. The club features two 18-hole championship courses: the daily-fee Man o’ War course and the private War Admiral (sometimes a part of area golf packages). The main clubhouse building that now houses the golf and restaurant facilities (including a Ruth’s Chris Steak House) was once the main stable area (where Man o’ War and War Admiral once galloped). The preservation of this rich horse-racing legacy is first-rate throughout the facility and grounds.
Joel Weiman, the architect of the Odessa National Golf Club in Delaware, designed both courses here. The Man o’ War course plays 7,163 yards and a par of 72 from the rear tees. The historic racetrack, used to train champion thoroughbreds is utilized as a strategic cross-hazard on three holes. You’ll think you’re in Scotland with the many design touches, including large greens, split fairways, bunkers/dunes and the added challenge of year-round Eastern Shore breezes.
Sister course War Admiral offers a completely different feel, routed through mature forests (which help block the wind). The beautiful tidal marshlands come into play on five dramatic holes, many offering amazing views of Ocean City. It’s hard to imagine that kind of development off in the distance as you putt in serene isolation. Bunkers provide a dramatic backdrop for your shots, while also proving penal. From the rear tees, the course plays to a par of 72 and a length of 6,889 yards.
Jim Furyk was the design consultant for War Admiral, and the only complaint about the course is the 18th hole, which is reminiscent of Furyk’s golf swing; it works, but you wish it looked better.
GlenRiddle is owned by Thomas H. Ruark, the developer and owner of other great golfing destinations in the vicinity, including The Links at Lighthouse Sound and Rum Pointe Seaside Golf Links in Ocean City, plus Nutters Crossing Golf Club in Salisbury. All Ruark courses are well run, well maintained and well staffed.
Greens fees: $69-$159. www.ruarkgolf.com.