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Around the Greens

Thursday, May 4, 2006

FAST PLAY, OR ELSE In a novel attempt to speed play, Reston National guarantees those playing Saturdays and Sundays before 8 a.m. will finish their round in four hours and 13 minutes -- or get their money back. The trick? Marshals prod laggards with a three-strikes system: Fall behind once and get a warning. Second offense and you're moved up to the hole you should be at. A third offense wins you an escorted exit and a rain check to play at a less crowded hour. Compliance, said manager Tom Reilly, has been 100 percent -- and the policy has prevented backups from beginning early in the day.

PAR SAVE Two years ago it seemed the day would never come. But Gunpowder Golf Club, a scruffy, beloved layout in Laurel, celebrates its golden anniversary tomorrow , May 6, with a tournament and cookout ($75 per person). The course was rescued from development last year.

Mark Hardy of the Gunpowder pro shop said the event will celebrate "keeping golf affordable for 50 years" and raise funds for Prince George's County Council Chairman Tom Dernoga, who helped save the course.

WE HARDLY KNEW YE Robin Dale Golf Club , a Prince George's County track that had been suffering with lousy conditions and service for several years, finally gave up the ghost in December.

NO CURSING IN THE SANCTUARY, PLEASE Rock Creek Golf Course in Northwest Washington has signed onto Audubon International's Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program, meaning the course will be maintained in a way that limits environmental impacts and encourages habitat preservation . Aside from more deer on the course, players can expect bigger "no mow" zones.

IN MONTGOMERY GOLF, SMALL CHANGE In April, the Montgomery County Revenue Authority took over management of the four courses operated by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. The courses: Needwood, Sligo Creek, Northwest Park and Little Bennett. And what will this mean for you, the Maryland publinks rat? MCRA Executive Director Marc Atz says the change will be "seamless" to most golfers.

ROUGH WHISKEY NewsChannel 8's "Capital Golf Weekly" again named one of the Toughest Holes in area golf: No. 12 at Whiskey Creek Golf Course in Ijamsville . It's a par-4, 455-yard dogleg that requires a 180-yard-plus tee shot over a deep ravine and a long approach over a wetland area.

The program is taking nominations for this year's toughest holes at http://www.news8.net/ .

EAT YOUR GREENS There's no mistaking the concrete of Rockville Pike for a bent-grass fairway. But in easy sight of Tower Records at Congressional Plaza, the prototype PGA Tour Grill opened its doors on March 1 . It offers what the golfers' group calls a casual country club feel and a classic American grill menu.

Don't expect the over-the-top golfiness of the Caddyshack theme restaurant: No beer taps hidden in cart bags, no pimento cheese sandwiches (a la Augusta National) or Arnold Palmers (half lemonade/half iced tea) at the bar. You find cushy booths and decor that whispers rather than shouts golf: sleek lights suggesting balls in flight, a magnum of wine autographed by Tom Watson, a mural of tournament play at Congressional, staff in PGA crimson polo shirts. A few flat-screen TVs glow with the Golf Channel or other sports.

A grand opening is planned during the PGA's Booz Allen Classic at Avenel June 19-25.

Reporting by Meaghan Wolff

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