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Fore! A look back at the easy tees and greens of Font Hill Golf Course in Ellicott City

As golf courses go, Font Hill was quaint, quirky and quick to play. How long could it take to go 18 holes when 17 of them are par threes?

Nestled on 55 acres west of Ellicott City, near the now-gone Enchanted Forest, Font Hill opened in 1961, a cozy concoction of short fairways, hairpin turns and tight greens. One hole measured just 100 yards. And while serious golfers surely sneered at Font Hill and its abbreviated layout, others saw it as a magnet for both young and graying duffers whose games were either ramping up or winding down.

“It was a public course, a neat place for beginners, old people, ladies and guys who wanted to sharpen their short games,” said Bob Fiander, 69, of Catonsville. He played Font Hill several times a week in the 1970s and remembered making four holes-in-one. Early on, to drum up business, anyone who scored an ace received a free bottle of champagne; otherwise, it was blue-collar golf.

“Augusta National (site of the Masters Tournament), it was not,” Fiander said. “It was a goat ranch, nothing pretentious. Its golf director, Tom Kernan, called it ‘The Hack, Slash and Chop Golf Club.’ ”

Scott Moyer, 65, was assistant pro at Font Hill in the early 1980s and remembers playing the course in an unconventional way.

“When it wasn’t busy, we’d tee up at the first hole but aim for the fourth green, to make for a longer drive. Then we’d tee up at No. 5 and shoot for the third green,” said Moyer, now the golf coach at McDaniel College. “Of course, the public wasn’t allowed to do that.”

Font Hill closed in 1986 to make way for a housing development.

“I miss the relaxed atmosphere of that place,” Moyer said. “It was a club where you could play inexpensively and dress how you wanted, in T-shirts and jeans instead of golf shirts and such.”

mike.klingaman@baltsun.com

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