Baltimore Sun


Ruggles Golf Course , located on the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground, is an old-style, wide-open course. Its forgiving fairways and reasonable cost tend to encourage frequent visits, although nowadays that comes with some patience.

There are stricter security measures since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. You must stop at a heavily guarded visitor booth, provide your license and registration and then wind through a series of barricades to access the course. Allow an extra 15 minutes to go through the clearance process.

Ruggles used to be one of the longest courses in the state at 7,000 yards. In the past couple of years, new tees have been added, reducing the length from the whites to 6,247 yards and 5,546 from the reds.

The fairways are in excellent shape and the cart paths are smooth. The greens on the day we played, following heavy rains the day before, were sluggish.

The course starts out with a 390-yard par 4 that plays like it looks. Take advantage of an easy par here, because the par-4, dogleg-left second hole can be difficult. You need to decide whether to drop your drive over some trees on the left or hit straight out from the tee and sacrifice distance. The problem with either choice is that a stream bisects the fairway about 100 yards from the flag, so either your tee shot has to be placed precisely over the trees and before the stream, or else your second shot must clear the stream after a long carry. Fortunately, the green is wide and deep.

Water comes into play at Ruggles on the par-3 third hole with a stream that crosses two holes on the front nine and two holes on the back.

There are portable toilets on the course and the clubhouse is conveniently located at the turnaround. The clubhouse sports a small pro shop, restaurant, bathrooms, and lockers. The driving range, practice bunker and putting green immediately surround the clubhouse.

The 512-yard seventh hole is a monster par 5 and my favorite hole on the course. The stream comes into play again on your second shot. The challenge from the elevated tee box is that woods are located flush right. Any tendency to slice will cost you on this hole. Even with a solid drive, fairway shot and approach, you face two big bunkers flanking the elevated green.

The back nine at Ruggles tends to be even more open, with wide, flat fairways. The par-5, 477-yard 16th starts out with a forgiving fairway, but be careful of the blind roadway that bisects the fairway about 150 yards from the green. It includes two ditches on either side that draw balls like magnets. Don't miss the green long or to either side on this one. Woods surrounding the green can easily add a stroke or two.

The fairway bunkers at Ruggles shouldn't present much of a problem. All greenside bunkers are filled with good quality sand and none appeared to have any stones in them. In all fairness, there is one aspect of golf at Ruggles that all golfers should be aware of before they arrive. Since the course sits on the grounds of the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground, expect your round to be noisy… in fact, very noisy on some days. The day we played there was intermittent 50-caliber machine gun sprays, lots of cannon blasts, a C-130 cargo plane taking off and landing, constant helicopter runs and the high-pitched whine of motorcycles on a nearby practice track.