Bulle Rock

Bulle Rock – Played April 2018

  • Rankings: Golf Digest Public #78, Golf Magazine Public #41
  • Location: 320 Blenheim Lane, Havre de Grace, Maryland
  • Year: 1998
  • Architect: Pete Dye
  • Course Access: Public
  • Walking Rules: Carts Available

Score Card Information:

  • Black: 7,375 yards, Par 72, 76.6 Rating/148 Slope
  • Gold: 6,907 yards, Par 72, 74.2 Rating/142 Slope
  • Blue: 6,410 yards, Par 72, 72.0 Rating/138 Slope
  • White: 6,055 yards, Par 72, 70.6 Rating/135 Slope
  • Green: 5,507 yards, Par 72, 67.8 Rating/129 Slope
  • Red: 5,320 yards, Par 72, 72.4 Rating/137 Slope

Every year when the calendar turns to January I am faced with the daunting prospect of tax season.  It is an extremely busy time of the year that doesn’t leave much time for golf, let alone golf trips.

To satiate my hunger for golf travel during this time I usually spend some free time trying to plan out the upcoming year’s golf trips.  Maryland was an area that had come up a few times as I have a good friend who lives there.

After looking at my map I knew I could hit Bulle Rock while I was in town.  So on the weekend after tax day we packed up and headed out north to Maryland.

Bulle Rock is a Pete Dye design in the northern Maryland town of Havre de Grace.  It is widely regarded as the best public course in Maryland (we’ll get to that claim throughout this piece).  It has received accolades from Golf Digest, Golfweek, Zagat, Golf Styles, and Golf for Women.

In addition to course-related recognition, Bulle Rock hosted the LPGA Championship, one of the LPGA Tour’s majors, from 2005-2009.  The five year run had a great run of champions including Annika Sorenstam, Se Ri Pak, Yani Tseng, Suzann Pettersen, and Anna Nordqvist.

The site is named for the first thoroughbred horse brought to America.  The course is known for great views and green contours.  Dye’s quote on the property states, “I did not undo God’s work.”  I’ll have to trust him on that since I didn’t see the property beforehand.

The facility has all the trappings of a large daily fee course.  I didn’t stop to check out the restaurant, but the pro shop was quite large with plenty of options.

There are some rumblings that the course may not be around forever.  The property has been up for sale and discussions have mentioned turning the course over to housing.  That would be an unfortunate happening, but it is something to keep in mind if you are thinking of going.  You may want to do it sooner rather than later.

Now that you are eqipped with all that knowledge let’s get into the tour.  It was a little brisk when we teed off so I chose the blue tees.  We originally started on the back side, but all pictures will be in normal order.

Hole 1 – 335 yards – Par 4

The first hole provides you with a birdie opportunity right out of the gate.  It plays short and driver is not a necessity.  A slight draw fits the shape of the hole.

Long and left is no good here so be careful with club selection.  Some bunkers sitting well below the putting surface guard the left side.

Hole 2 – 524 yards – Par 5

This tee shot is a lot tougher than it looks.  A creek runs all down the right side in front of the trees.  On the left the trees are in play and come at you quick.

The creek seen here is in play on your second shot so be cognizant of the yardage you want for your third.  The elevated green makes club selection important.  You don’t want any piece of the front bunker.

This view back up the hole gives you the scope of the land.  Two tiny bunkers on the back side are a nice Pete Dye touch.

Hole 3 – 156 yards – Par 3

As you can see, left is no good here.  The steep slope combined with bunkers makes for a difficult up and down.  Shots coming in from the right will funnel into the middle of the green and give you a great birdie chance.

Hole 4 – 364 yards – Par 4

The overall space is wide here, but concentration is needed when picking a line off the tee.  The left side is more favorable.  Play the fade if you have it.

Below is a look at the green.  I didn’t get a shot of the green, but I remember that you didn’t want to be right.

Hole 5 – 405 yards – Par 4

The stated yardage for this hole is just a suggestion.  It plays much longer due to the uphill grade.  The hole doglegs sharply to the left with bunkers guarding the corner. Long hitters can attack the corner for a shorter second shot.

Adding to the challenge on the second shot is the steep slope up to the green.  It is necessary to take more club to reach the green.

The green is big, but narrow.  Due to the slope of the fairway it is open in front to allow running shots.  Also with this area you have chipping options.

Hole 6 – 363 yards – Par 4

Usually when you climb a hill you have to go back down.  That is the case here as we descend down from the prior green.  Driver is risky here with a hazard crossing the fairway and occupying a large area on the right of the hole down near the green.

Looking back up the hole gives you a view of the wide and shallow green.  Notice the large bunker fronting the green as well as the hazard.

Hole 7 – 143 yards – Par 3

This uphill one-shotter can be a beast with wind in your face.  A sharp drop off looms on the left so bail right if you have to.  Once on the green there is some mild sloping, nothing crazy.

Hole 8 – 481 yards – Par 5

Birdie time here.  Playing under 500 yards, this one is ripe for the picking.  With the slope of the fairway a slinging draw will set you up to get home in two.

A view of the second shot is below.

The green is open in front for running shots.  Hopefully with two good shots you’ll be staring at an eagle putt.

Hole 9 – 366 yards – Par 4

This was one of my favorite holes.  I don’t know enough to call it a full Cape hole, but maybe Cape hole Lite.  There is a sliver of fairway on the right over the water that you can take on for a short wedge shot.  The hole gives you the conservative option as well with the large fairway.  I’m always a fan of options.

I took the right route up the hole and this is what I was left with.  I had about 90 yards to the green.  You are awarded a short shot, but a dicey angle.  Not so sure I love that, but you do have a wedge in your hand.  The bunker must be avoided as well as the deep rough around the green.

Hole 10 – 358 yards – Par 4

The landing area is wide open.  If you’re hitting driver a line up the left allows the most room.  Notice and steer clear of the fairway bunkers on the left.

From the fairway, the approach shot is not too difficult.  You should have a short iron to attack the flag.

Below you can see some of the internal green contours that make for tricky putting.

Hole 11 – 596 yards – Par 5

This one will take three shots for most people to get home.  It plays slightly downhill from the tee to a wide fairway.  Muscle up and crank one here.

The downhill slope continues to the green with bunkers present along the way.

The green is very long with sand guarding it.  Some of the slopes are seen below, but the green is not crazy undulating.

Hole 12 – 155 yards – Par 3

This wouldn’t be a Pete Dye course without railroad ties and we have some here!  The green runs right up to the water so avoid the miss to the right.  Bunkers lurk to the left ready to snare bailout swings.

Hole 13 – 428 yards – Par 4

This is one of my favorite holes on the course.  It’s a solid hole that requires good shots.  It bends slightly to the right to a blind landing area.

The progress of the hole is shown below.  The safe shot here is a fade into the green.

If it’s firm you can run your shot up onto the putting surface.

The large bunker below guards the left side of the green.  It is a tough up and down from here as the green slopes away.

Hole 14 – 331 yards – Par 4

You have options on this tee depending on what you desire for a second shot.  If you lay back you can approach the green from the top of the hill in the fairway.  If you bomb one it will catch a downslope and get pretty close.

The approach is seen below.  While open in front, sand guards the rest of the green.

This look back up the hole shows the slope of the fairway and the progression down to the green.

Hole 15 – 493 yards – Par 5

The drive here is critical to set you up for a birdie.  The best line is hugging the left side just inside of the cart you can see on the left.

The long second shot is viewed below.  You will want to come into the green from the left side due to the sloping.

Below you can see the slopes going into the green.  A good second shot will be bounding along this grass to run up on the green.

Hole 16 – 330 yards – Par 4

A straight drive is important here.  Tree trouble looms on the left with long grass and bunkers on the right.  At this length, the driver can stay in the bag.

The second shot plays into a green tucked back among the trees.  You will not want to go long.

The putting surface is quite narrow as seen below.  You can see the overall slope from left to right (opposite from the photo).

Hole 17 – 160 yards – Par 3

This hole feels similar to the 12th minus the water.  The large bunker takes the water’s place as the hazard.

This view from the left of the green shows the small fall off and the overall slope.

Hole 18 – 422 yards – Par 4

The final hole is demanding.  Water all down the left is the major trouble.  The fairway is ample though.

The water continues all the way to the green.  It also cuts in the front of the green as well so shorts cannot come up short on the left side.

I didn’t get a shot of the green, but I did get a look at the clubhouse.  It is quite large as you can see below.

Bulle Rock is a very fine track.  I can certainly understand its high regard among the public courses in Maryland.

That being said I don’t know that it is a place I am dying to get back to.  I would play it often if I lived in the area, but it is a bit pricey.  The best summary I can give is that it is a solid golf course with demanding holes.  Make sure to play it at a time of the year when the greens are at their best to get the best experience.

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