Give Renditions golf course a few hours and it will transport you around the world.
Labeled as “Golf’s Grand Slam Experience,” the course in Davidsonville features 18 replica holes from courses that have previously hosted at least one of golf’s major tournaments. Players are afforded the opportunity to try to hit an island green designed to mirror the 17th at the TPC at Sawgrass in Florida, or navigate past a smattering of pot bunkers found on a hole like the 15th at Royal Birkdale in England.
And every once in awhile, such as the case in 2018, the featured layouts at Renditions and the PGA tour’s major tournament venues sync up together for what head golf professional Dave Long calls the “perfect storm.”
“We are fortunate that we have Augusta, where they play every year, so we can always say we are hosting a major. But to have three this year, it’s a first since I’ve been here, and it’s a great talking point for our guest services staff,” said Long, who has been at the course since 2015. “Even if it’s just one hole from that particular course, I think it’s a huge draw and definitely adds a little extra to the round for all our players that year.”
Renditions features at least one replica hole from the courses hosting this year’s Masters (Played at Augusta National), U.S. Open (Shinnecock Hills) and British Open (Carnoustie). The last time three of the four major championship courses in a single year were represented among Renditions’ par 72 layout was in 2013.
Ultimately, it’s because of that unique opportunity for golfers to experience first hand what the professionals on television do, that the course — which opened in 2002 — still hasn’t lost its luster, according to Long.
“I think it’s only natural to want to see how you might fare on these famous holes, especially the more recognizable ones. And more than that, there’s a reason these holes were chosen … they are really good golf holes,” he said. “Here, you get the chance to experience all of them in a single round.”
From the minute a golfer arrives at Renditions, it’s all about establishing that immersive championship atmosphere. The clubhouse is filled with pictures of past major champions and the courses from which its own holes draw inspiration.
There are little touches around every turn as well. The lockers have nameplates with the names of golf’s most decorated players. An all-time leaderboard featuring the players who have won the most majors hangs on the wall in the Players Grill.
The details spill onto the course too. Next to the sixth hole, which mirrors the 11th at Augusta and the start of Renditions’ own “Amen Corner,” there is a giant Masters-style scoreboard with the name of that particular year’s winner. The pin on the 14th hole, a replica of the 11th at Merion Golf Club, usually features a wicker basket instead of a flag.
Every spring during Masters week, the Grill serves pimento cheese sandwiches — an Augusta National concession favorite — and the cart staff wears the same white boiler suits that the caddies wear during the tournament. And during the Open championship, when one of the Rendition holes matches up with that year’s venue (as it did in 2017 and will in 2018), someone is brought in to play the bagpipes at that tee box during the morning rounds.
“It’s not just the holes themselves, we want this to be a championship-like feel from the moment players step out of their car,” Long said. “We are all about the full experience.”
Gimmicks aside, though, Renditions provides a unique test of golf in that no two holes are the same. There are places where accuracy is at a premium and others where players can grab the driver and let it rip, which means it caters to a wide range of skills and ability levels.
Whether it’s holes with water, unique sand traps, sloping greens, dog legs or blind tee shots, there literally is a little bit of everything all rolled into a single round.
What’s consistent, though, are the lush fairways and well-conditioned greens throughout. The course has made a concerted effort in recent years toward improving playability, particularly in terms of drainage so that carts are able to go off the path more frequently. Long said it was already well maintained when he arrived and yet it seems to keep improving every season.
“People might come out once for the unique layout, but the only way you are going to get them to come back is the course conditions. So that’s why we are constantly upgrading, constantly getting better by adding things like fans around the greens or trying different drainage projects,” he said.
The rates, which currently peak at $79 on weekend mornings, have held fairly steady over the last half-decade. But there are several specials available during the week, along with the option to play nine holes after 5:30 p.m. for the first time, that Long says are making the course as busy as ever.
Senior golfers on weekdays, for example, can play 18 holes with cart for $39 during the month of June. That rate is even cheaper than it costs ($45) for the general public to play during twilight, which starts at 3 p.m.
The Grill has its share of specials as well. After a round, golfers can get their first domestic draft for whatever their score was. Every Friday, there is happy hour available to players and non-players from 4-7 p.m. that features discounted drinks and a taco bar.
The full-service bar and restaurant has ample seating inside the clubhouse, but there is also a sizable outdoor patio with covered seating overlooking the putting green. For outings, there is a 200-seat “Champions Room.”
Address: 1380 Central Ave, Davidsonville, MD 21035
Miles from downtown Baltimore: 34
Driving Range: Yes (25 stations for mats; grass stations open on weekends starting in mid-June; range not included with greens fees)
Putting Green: Yes (One green next to clubhouse and first tee)
Chipping Green: No (Chipping allowed on putting green)
In-season weekday morning round 18 holes with cart: $59
In-season weekend morning round 18 holes with cart: $79
Full rate breakdown: https://www.renditionsgolf.com/golf/rates/
Locker room: Yes (22 lockers and two showers in both the men’s and women’s)
Best Par 3: 13th hole
The 7th hole, which is a replica of the 12th at Augusta, is a close second, but this island green built to mirror the iconic 17th at the TPC at Sawgrass is the one that almost everyone is going to be talking about after the round. It’s a short hole — only 140 yards or so from the back tees — but the green looks so tiny and the wind just whips across the water. And if you are lucky enough to find dry land, it’s still no bargain on what is arguably the toughest green on the course. There are three very distinct tiers and if you find the wrong one, a three-putt is almost guaranteed. As far as replica holes go, this one more than lives up to the hype.
Best Par 4: 6th hole
There are several really strong par 4s, but this is the first real “wow” moment on the course and transports players into the start of “Amen Corner” at Augusta National — one of the most famous three-hole stretches in golf. The tee shot comes out of a chute of trees into a generous landing area. Then it’s downhill to a green guarded by ponds both behind and to the left of the green. There’s a huge bailout area to the right of the green, but the putting surface slopes severely down toward the water so chipping can be extremely treacherous. The array of flower beds behind the green, the stone bridges in the distance and the large replica “Masters Scoreboard” are nice added touches.
Best Par 5: 12th hole
This replica of the sixth hole at Carnoustie, which is the host to the 2018 Open Championship, features out-of-bounds running down the entire left side. The distinctive and large out-of-bounds stakes that are used the length of the hole tend to naturally force players to bail out right. Even tee shots right down the middle, however, are in danger of finding one of the pot bunkers that intersect the fairway. The green has its share of pot bunkers as well, including one just short left that guards against approach shots of any length. It’s not overly long, so if you can avoid the hazards then this is a birdie hole, but mishits can prove very costly.
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Overview: For golfers that enjoy variety, this course is perfect. The types of holes are so drastically different and the types of shots that they require are so varied. Renditions literally keeps your attention from start to finish and provides more memorable shots than you get in several rounds at other courses. And, while you can certainly nitpick some minor differences between Renditions’ holes and those that they are depicting, the number of similarities are really rather remarkable. It’s the little things, like footbridges across creeks or the depth of some of the pot bunkers on the links-style holes, that really make the experience. It’s also fun to read the brief history of each of the original holes that are displayed on the placards next to the tee boxes. From a playing perspective, this is a great test of golf —particularly around the greens. There are some downright diabolical pin positions and slopes that will test even the most-skilled players’ patience. But when you think about it, considering the inspiration comes from some of the greatest holes in the sport, the challenge seems only fitting.