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Early reviews put Walden squarely on the fairway New Crofton course set for July opening


Ronald G. Moore lined up a 12-foot putt on the eighth green at Walden Golf Club on Wednesday morning and debated whether the ball would "break to the right" or "stay true to the hole."

"I think it's going to break a little to the right, but I don't want to give away the hole," he said, standing on the fringe 395 yards away from his initial tee shot.

After a brief delay, the Leesburg, Va., native stroked the ball, sending it gently to its destination in the bottom of the cup.

"Yes," he muttered, while walking to retrieve his birdie putt. "These greens are great."

Moore's assessment of the putting surfaces is shared by the members who have played the 6,625-yard, par 71 course in Crofton.

"We can put our tees and greens up against any course," said George Jakovics, who left his post as club professional at Chartwell Golf and Country Club in Severna Park to assume the position as general manager and director of golf at Walden.

"It's going to take a little while for the course to mature, but we've had nothing but good reviews so far."

The mounds of clay and topsoil that lined the fairways just nine months ago are gone, along with the heavy excavating machinery that helped mold Stephen W. Duckett's concept into a reality.

The course features four par 3s, two par 5s and 10 par 4s, with at least four tees at each hole to meet the needs of golfers of all levels of skill and strength. It features 10 lakes and an island green, and circles the historic Johns Hopkins mansion, built in 1795.

Located in the Walden residential community off Johns Hopkins Road, the course is a private facility available to anyone who

wishes to join -- whether or not they buy into the community of Walden.

The course is an original Robert Trent Jones design with modifications by Lindsay Ervin, a local golf course architect whose accomplishments include Hog Neck Golf Club in Easton and the recently opened Old South course in Lothian. It houses a practice range, full-service clubhouse, banquet facilities, locker rooms and pro shop.

"It's a little immature yet, but it's going to be a fantastic golf course," said Robert Shanower, whose limited membership allows him to play any weekday and after 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

"This club is such a bargain, especially for a guy like me whose wife is still working. All they want you to do is enjoy playing golf, and they make it so a guy on a limited income is still able to play."

Although the club will not officially open until July 19, Jakovics has a "soft opening" that will enable its 183 primary members, 70 secondary members and 40 junior members to use the facility while allowing the club's staff to "fine-tune services."

The club has already established a senior men's group that tees off Thursday mornings, as well as nine- and 18-hole ladies groups that meet at 8 a.m. on Wednesdays. Starting in July, the club will conduct a junior program with clinics and golf tournaments every Monday.

"We're running this course like a cruise ship on land," said Jakovics, who in his 21 years at Chartwell drew 650 members, and an eight-year waiting list, to the club.

"We're supplying the members with constant recreation, instruction and a competitive schedule."

Marian Geist, a Millersville resident and former member of Crofton Country Club, has worked for Bay Hills Golf Club in Arnold and has seen the business from both sides of the counter. She thinks the staff at Walden is doing everything right.

"It's a first-class operation and the people who work there are wonderful," said Geist, a 12-handicap golfer. "The staff is 200 percent service-oriented. The way I see it, it's another Chartwell Country Club, without the eight-year waiting list."

On any given day, Jakovics says the club fields 15 to 25 inquiries on memberships.

The staff at Walden gives daily introduction to the golf course and clubhouse -- with a day's advance notice.

Anyone wishing to tour the facilities is asked to contact George, Carole or Brendan at 721-8268.

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