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Checking In On Some New Neighbors

Friday, May 5, 2006

Laurel Hill is the most noteworthy public course opening in recent years. But dial out a couple hundred miles, and you'll find several other newcomers that may be worth a visit.

Mattaponi Springs Golf Club

weekends, with cart: $89

22490 Penola Rd., Ruther Glen, Va. 22546

804-633-7888, http://www.mattaponisprings.com

Going into its second full season, Mattaponi Springs is the epitome of the "out of the way" golf experience. Located between Richmond and Fredericksburg, it's not in a place you're likely to be for any good reason. But for regional course collectors it's worth a day trip. Designed by Chicago-based architect Bob Lohmann and constructed practically from scratch by owner Jim Oliff, the course travels over some dramatically rolling terrain bordered by lakes and natural areas. Not a house in sight.

White Clay Creek Country Club

weekends, with cart: $110

777 Delaware Park Blvd.,

Wilmington, Del. 19804

302-994-6700, http://www.whiteclaycreek.com

Surrounding the Delaware Park racetrack area, White Clay Creek has woven the racing theme into its Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest design: Jockey helmets are used as tee markers and "flags" on the greens. Hills is known for difficult tests, and this is no exception, with two meandering creeks coming into play on 16 of 18 holes. Five sets of tees temper the challenge, as do GPS yardage systems on the carts. While in a busy suburban neighborhood, White Clay Creek retains a natural feeling with a bald eagle, hawks, fox and deer finding a home here.

Poplar Grove Golf Club

weekends, with cart: $69

129 Tavern Lane

Amherst, Va. 24521

434-946-9933,

http://www.poplargrovegolf.com

Located about an hour south of Charlottesville, Poplar Grove claims an association with the late Sam Snead: The course is the final design in which he had a hand. Snead and son Jack consulted with former Fazio associate Ed Carton to create a layout named to Golf Digest's "Best New Upscale Course for 2005" list. The elder Snead worked primarily on the front nine, with Jack and Carton finishing the back, which is set around a large lake with inspiring views. While visually intimidating, the course is fairly forgiving, especially from the forward tees. The development's homes do not disturb or influence play.

Bay Creek Golf Club -- Nicklaus Course

weekends, with cart: $70

1 Club House Way, Cape Charles, Va. 23310

757-331-8620, http://www.baycreek.net

Bay Creek made a splash five years ago with the opening of its Arnold Palmer design; last year it opened another 18 designed by Jack Nicklaus. The new design is somewhat longer and more challenging than the Palmer, while offering similarly serene views of the Chesapeake Bay and Old Plantation Creek. Sand is the word on the Nicklaus Course, with more than 100 strategically placed fairway and greenside bunkers.

Compass Pointe Golf Courses

weekends, with cart: $67.50

9010 Fort Smallwood Rd., Pasadena, Md. 21122

410-255-7764, http://www.compasspointegolf.com

Adding 800 acres of public golf to badly underserved Anne Arundel County, Compass Pointe completed its 36-hole complex last August. Designed by prolific mid-Atlantic golf architect Lindsay Ervin (Hilltop, Queenstown Harbor, Links at Gettysburg), the four distinct nines mix links-style and parkland play. Course conditions have improved steadily after a tough opening season, and the diversity of challenge supports repeat visits.

-- Jeff Rendall

For reports on other courses around the region, visithttp://www.washingtonpost.com/swing.

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