All four of Carroll's 18-hole public golf courses are open pretty much year-round, from morning until near-dark, as long as the weather is good. They vary wildly in terms of difficulty, conditions and cost. The recommendation is to call to check on tee time availability before heading out to enjoy a fun round. Beginners or those just looking to play a quick nine holes, should check in at the McDaniel College course (410-848-7667).
It's golf, in that you're trying to get the ball into a hole in the fewest number of strokes possible, but rather than clubs you use your feet, rather than a tiny golf ball you use a soccer ball and rather than 4.25 inches the holes are 21 inches in diameter. At McDaniel College, there's an 18-hole, par-70 footgolf course that runs alongside the college's nine-hole golf course. Players use the side of their foot, or their toe, to kick the ball from the tee markers until they are able to hole it. Pushing it with the bottom of your foot is not allowed. The length of the holes at McDaniel runs from 48 yards to 168. Leave your golf shoes at home. Sneakers or indoor soccer shoes (no cleats) are needed. Adults play for $10, kids for $8. Bring your own soccer ball or rent one from the course for $3.
Again, the rules are pretty much the same as regular golf, but instead of a pricey set of 14 clubs, one needs only a Frisbee-type disc. A typical golf disc is smaller and heavier than a Frisbee, designed for control and accuracy. The object is to deposit the disc into a basket in the fewest "shots" possible. The Creeping Creek Disc Golf Course, which can consist of 18 to 20 holes depending on the time of year, is set on the hilly farmland of the Ruhlman Brewery in Hampstead. It is open Thursday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Expect to see plenty of trees and some significant elevation changes during your round. For $5, you can play all day. The total distance of the course runs to somewhere around 2,000 yards. The par is right around 60. Adult beverages from the brewery are available for consumption on and off site.
There are several miniature golf courses in the area, from the indoor, black-lit track at Players Fun Zone in Westminster to the island-themed layout at Westminster's Island Green Family Fun Center to the three longstanding courses just over the county line at Mitchell's Golf Complex in Reisterstown, but the 18 holes outside Four Seasons Sports Complex have been around for about two decades, with players hitting into hazards and rocks lining the slick artificial-turf course. According to the website, it's open from Monday through Friday, sunrise until sunset, and from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. The cost is $5 for adults, $3 for kids (12-under) and free for those under 2 as well as Four Seasons gym or pool members.
The driving range is not just a place to warm up before a round of golf, although all of Carroll's 18-hole courses do have driving ranges open to the public. According to Forbes, about 7 million people swing away at driving ranges and other practice facilities without ever venturing out to the course. That makes Westminster's Island Green facility a good choice for avid golfers and those just taking up the sport. There are more than 50 hitting bays, many of them covered to allow for swinging in the rain. There are numerous laser-measured distance markers and, of course, a green about 150 yards away completely surrounded by water. For $8, you get a small bucket of 45 range balls. For $13, a large bucket of 105. And after you're done? There's also a practice green, an 18-hole miniature golf course or, if you want to get in a few more swings, a baseball and softball batting park.