Walden Golf Club blends picturesque holes, history


It is only one mile east of the commercial corridor that is Route 3 in the Crofton section of Anne Arundel County, so it is hard to believe there are some 175 acres of farmland taking shape as an 18-hole golf course in the neighborhood.

It is even more surprising to learn this is part of an original tract of more than 350 acres that includes the now-restored house in which Johns Hopkins was born in 1795.

Each is an interesting story in itself, although they have become entwined since Stephen W. Duckett, former owner of an Annapolis laundry and dry-cleaning business, bought the property in 1941. He and his wife, Thelma, restored the house -- it is now part of the National Historic Trust -- and farmed the property, raising Black Angus cattle.

A charter member of Chartwell Country Club, Duckett had the idea of using part of his property for a golf course, and saving the Hopkins birthplace. Twenty-five years ago, the golf course got as far as a name, Golden Triangle, and architect Robert Trent Jones laying out the routing, but a premature end came when a buyer ran into financial difficulties.

"Mr. Duckett talked to me about getting it going again 15 years ago, but the time wasn't right and I didn't think I had the expertise to handle it," George Jakovics said yesterday before an informal preview of Walden Golf Club for invited guests, a party that attracted more than 600 to the Hopkins estate.

During the festivities, a brief ceremony was held to announce Duckett as the club's first honorary member.

Jakovics, former director of golf (among other titles) at Chartwell CC, was asked to do some consulting work two years ago when the Ameribanc Development Corp. of Annandale, Va., purchased portion of the Duckett land to build a golf course and develop real estate properties.

"It got to the point where I was spending a lot of time here. I didn't intend it that way, but later, I knew it was something I wanted to do," Jakovics added, referring to the transition from his Chartwell position.

Anyone who knows Jakovics is aware of his unbridled enthusiasm for any job he tackles. This project has become a passion with him and he doesn't need any prompting to extol its virtues.

"There are a dozen bridges over wetlands, five ponds, concrete hTC cart paths, and we left most of the trees," he says in rapid-fire order, heading for his four-wheel vehicle and another trip around the job site. The owner has driven 10,000 miles since June and estimates 6,500 of them have been solely on the property. Until a flurry of recent fliers, it was his only form of advertising, too, as the club's name and telephone numbers are prominently displayed on the sides of the vehicle.

Architect Lindsay Ervin, who did Hog Neck and Queenstown Harbour on the Eastern Shore, is handling the project, taking apart the Golden Triangle tract and putting it back together as a picturesque layout, with definition to the holes and elevation, particularly on the front nine. Work started two months ago, and the optimistic Jakovics already is making plans for the first club championship in November or December.

"We've started seeding and should be completed by mid-October," he said. "It is unbelievable the way this is going. There'll have to be a few tournament ground rules, but we'll be ready to do something," the general manager/golf director said with a laugh.

When completed, the course will have four sets of tees on each hole and may be played from 5,000 yards to 6,600 yards with a par of 71. Tees and greens will be bent grass and a double-row irrigation system will line the perennial rye and bluegrass fairways.

"Our golf staff and superintendent's staff are in place, although we haven't announced them yet. And, eventually, there will be a clubhouse, tennis courts and a swimming pool. For now, though, the golf course is the feature attraction," Jakovics said.


Charity events:

* Jockey International/Jim Palmer Cystic Fibrosis event, Sept. 23, Turf Valley CC. Information from Marc Kantrowitz, 771-9000.

* Retinitis Pigmentosa Celebrity scramble tournament, Sept. 26, Eagle's Nest. Information from RP Foundation, 1401 Mount Royal Ave., 225-9400.

* The second Mount St. Mary's invitation pro-am will be held Sept. 26-27 at Holly Hills CC. A top field is expected for the $15,000 event, with proceeds going to the school's athletic scholarship fund. Information from Chris Baumann at Mount St. Mary's (301) 447-5227 or the club.

* Bruce Crampton Invitation to benefit Ciccarone Center (specializing in prevention of heart disease) at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Sept. 30, Eagle's Nest. Information available from Dave Huntley, 296-1081.


NOTES: Joe Wilkinson, an assistant professional at Chartwell Country Club for the past 7 years, has been appointed head professional, succeeding Jakovics. . . . A team representing Chestnut Ridge CC will participate in the net division of the national Oldsmobile Scramble at Walt Disney World, Thursday through Sept. 23. . . . The field has been filled for the Baltimore 2-man team championship at Mount Pleasant Golf Course on Sept. 28-29. . . . The first Frederick County stroke-play championship will be held at Glade Valley GC in Walkersville, Oct. 5-6 (entry forms available from the club).

This week's schedule: Tomorrow-Tuesday -- Middle Atlantic PGA Northern Chapter championship, Cumberland CC, 8 a.m. Tuesday -- Women's Golf Association, Maryland Golf, 9 a.m. Friday -- Middle Atlantic PGA pro-am, Montgomery CC, 8 a.m.

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