When Mark Branch first saw Woodmore's tranquil 67-acre lake, rolling golf greens and stately homes several years ago, he told himself that he was going to live in that neighborhood someday.
"I'm just a peaceful guy," said Branch, 36, a NASA engineer and part-time disc jockey. "I just like a peaceful setting. . . . I can't control everything that goes on around me, but I can control my home."
It's worth practicing in Woodmore, a luxury Prince George's County community intertwined with a country club's 18-hole golf course.
(Photos Dennis Drenner For The Washington Post)
BOUNDARIES: Woodmore Road to the south, Country Club at Woodmore to the north and west, Spriggs Request Way and connected cul-de-sacs to the east.
SCHOOLS: Woodmore Elementary, Ernest Everett Just Middle and Charles Herbert Flowers High schools.
HOME SALES: 26 homes have sold in the past 12 months at prices ranging from $407,500 to $2.1 million, said Beth Tyler, an agent with Long & Foster Real Estate. No house are on the market now; four houses are under contract, with list prices of $529,900 to $1.6 million.
WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE: Country Club at Woodmore.
WITHIN 10-15 MINUTES BY CAR: Newton White Mansion, Enterprise Golf Course, the Boulevard at the Capital Centre, Largo Town Center, Bowie Town Center, FedEx Field, Largo Metro station, Woodmore Road Community Park.
Woodmore is considered one of Prince George's County's premier subdivisions, a golf course community that is home to some of the county's wealthiest residents. With houses that sell for as much as $2 million, the gated Mitchellville enclave represents prestige and accomplishment for some, while for others it is a serene haven. Loads of deer roam the area; ducks paddle on the lake. There are plenty of trees and large lawns.
"The minute you go through the gates everything calms down -- even if you've been stuck on the Beltway," said resident Donna Wiseman, who is associate dean of the College of Education at the University of Maryland.
Woodmore consists of almost 400 homes, many very large, in clusters of single-family houses and townhouses, some called villas. Homes sell from the $400,000s for a townhouse to $2.1 million for a single-family Colonial; $1 million houses are not uncommon in Woodmore.
The predominantly black neighborhood has been home to entrepreneurs, athletes, lawyers and educators. It is intertwined with the 18-hole golf course of the Country Club at Woodmore, a private facility that also offers swimming and tennis. The country club is the community's most obvious feature, but only about a third of Woodmore residents are members. While the country club and the community of Woodmore are separate entities, they harmonize to create an atmosphere where residents can relax or play.
The greens helped lure Diane Franklin to Woodmore. The 54-year-old real estate agent said she has found the country club a good place not only to dine and play golf, but also to schmooze and do business. "When I came out here, I just fell in love," she said.
With a guard booth staffed around the clock, restricted access in and out of the community and a roving weekend guard, residents feel a measure of ease while they are at home or taking their morning jog.
Wiseman, who has a long-distance marriage -- her husband lives in Hawaii and she's in Maryland -- wanted to be someplace where she felt secure when she was home alone.
"My husband feels so much better that I'm in a gated community," Wiseman said. "I feel very, very safe."
Living in a gated community also factored into Franklin's decision to move to Woodmore, she said. She takes her early morning walks with peace of mind.
"It's not like where I used to walk, where I walked with a stick," she said.
Frank Zieziula said he and his wife moved to Woodmore from Cheverly after their children had grown up and left home, downsizing from a single-family house to Woodmore townhouse.
"I looked in Montgomery County, I looked in Anne Anne Arundel County . . . this offered me the best for my money," said Zieziula, 58, a Gallaudet University professor.