For a beach town, Ocean City, Maryland boasts an unusually high population of golf courses, featuring almost two dozen accessible within a 45-minute drive.
Each one offers something a little different, from entry level courses to world-class challenges guaranteed to stump even the most seasoned scratch golfer.
“We have nearly 20 courses with accolades that include several national rankings,” said Walter Brooks, Chief Operating Officer at Ocean City Golf Getaway. “Lighthouse Sound [in Bishopville] is in the top 100 you can play in the U.S., according to Golf Magazine.”
Guide to Golfing in Ocean City, Maryland
Why Golf in Ocean City?
The advantage to golfing in Ocean City as opposed to, say, Myrtle Beach, is convenience. About eight million people live within a four-hour drive from the resort, meaning you won’t have to take five days off from work to accommodate a three-day golfing vacation.
“Everyone’s traveling south to play golf, and we’ve become a real popular golf travel destination,” Brooks said. “Myrtle Beach is the golf capital of the world, but as we’re half the drive, we’re very accessible.”
Hunt Crosby, from Pam’s Ocean City Maryland Golf Getaways, said the majority of golfers coming here are traveling from Baltimore, Pennsylvania and New York.
When’s the Best Time to Go?
The average stay is three days and two nights, and peak season is, surprisingly, in May.
“Ocean City really is three seasons,” he said. “The spring and the fall are really golfers coming on a golf vacation, summer is vacationers who might play golf, and winter is whoever lives here.
“The primary driving force for the spring, which believe it or not is much busier than the summer, is the latent demand from the north,” Crosby continued. “They’ve been through a tough winter. They want to get away with their buddies and play golf. It’s springtime and everybody has forgotten how bad they’ve been playing, so they’re optimistic for the year. They can’t wait to get out. They’ve got their new clubs for Christmas. They’ve been out and hit a couple of balls on the range, and they’re all fired up. So, spring is really the busy time for people traveling on a golf trip.”
The typical golf courses in the area actually see less traffic during the summer, when the beaches are flooded by hundreds of thousands of tourists. Then, activity picks back up during the fall, thanks to the milder temperatures – and cheaper rates all around.
“Summer is really a family vacation time. It’s not really the time to grab three of your buddies and take off,” Crosby said.
“If you’re a golfer and nobody else in the family is a golfer, it’s tough to say to the family, ‘alright, well we’re on a family vacation. You guys go the boardwalk. I’m going to go play golf.’ That doesn’t typically work out for you.”
Booking Your Round at the Best Time
For those who do chose to play during the summer, Crosby said activity is usually highest early in the morning, with players fitting a round in and then getting back to their families at the beach. Alternately, traffic can pick up later in the day after a long stay in the surf and sand.
“The middle part of the day is usually pretty soft in the golf business during the summertime,” Crosby said.
Most spring and fall vacations are booked in January and February. Summer is generally considered to be much more flexible.
“If you’re booking a week out, or even four or five days out, you’re going to have all the availability you’ll ever want,” Crosby said. “Plus, there’s a lot of golf courses and it’s not as busy.”
While traffic on the courses is much lower between Memorial Day and Labor Day, that’s where the vacationing golfer can often find the best value. Moreover, with the convenience of online booking, Brooks said golfers can even book in the car on the way into Ocean City – as long as they’re not the ones driving.
“Booking trends have changed a little bit, and [courses] are not booking as far in advance as they once were,” Brooks said.
“There’s great value in the summer for golf. Each course has a coupon out there. The courses reduce their rates in the summer and it’s reduced throughout the day, with attractive twilight pricing.”
You can also check to see if your hotel offers golfing packages when you book your stay with rounds at certain courses.
Finding the Best Golf Course for Your Game
A round of golf can cost between $35 and $175 during the summer. Spring and fall rates are a little firmer, generally between $80 and $190 for 18 holes.
For those coming to play in Ocean City for the first time, Crosby said the trick is to find the right course to match up with your skill level.
“There are some very hard golf courses, and there are some fairly easy golf courses,” he said. “I would try to match up how I play with how hard a golf course is.”
Along with the courses themselves providing distinct challenges, Brooks said most offer a range of tees, giving enough flexibility to accommodate all types of play.
The overall golf season in Ocean City is generally considered to run from March through November, give or take a few rainy days during the spring.
Whatever the season, and whatever the reason for your trip to Ocean City, Brooks said golfers will not be disappointed. Along with the wide variety of courses, the resort has plenty to offer on its own, whether you’re coming for the weekend with friends, or bringing the whole family for that once-a-year getaway.
“Once they come here they’ll be very pleased with the quality of golf, accommodations, the nightlife and the dining, and they’ll definitely be looking to come back,” he said. “Ocean City pretty much has it all. You won’t be disappointed.
“All of our courses are championship courses. Some are a little more scenic than others, being right on the waterways with the views and vistas of the bay, but wherever they play they will not be disappointed in their experience here in Ocean City,” Brooks said.
For more information on Ocean City Golf Getaway, call 410-213-7050 or visit www.oceancitygolf.com.
For more information on Pam’s Ocean City, Maryland Golf Getaways, call 410-213-7050 or visit www.pamsgolfoc.com.
If you’re looking to book a golfing vacation in Ocean City, stay at the Princess Bayside Hotel. The Princess Bayside offers premium golf vacation packages and is around some of the best nightlife in the city.