A shapely public course debuts in the D.C. suburbs

Buy a drink for a golf architect these days and you’re likely to hear a lament about the increasingly long odds against building a good course in a metropolitan area. Environmental regulations are stricter than ever, and land is so dear that golf is almost always an amenity intended to help sell housing. Consequently, golfers end up playing holes where the aiming point off the tee is the third Palladian window to the left of someone’s chimney. Lake Presidential Golf Club, a public course opening in May in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, about twenty miles from the U.S. Capitol, doesn’t entirely escape these kinds of problems. But thanks to its lead architects, Jeff Potts and Chris Cole of Landmark Land Company, it’s an engaging layout nonetheless.

The designers recognize that one measure of a course is its collection of short par fours, and they’ve created two excellent examples of the genre. The uphill eleventh hole, measuring 360 yards from the “back” tees (one set of markers in from the tips), tempts long hitters to drive the ball as close to the green as possible, but a less-than-perfect tee shot leaves a dicey little approach to a narrow target reminiscent of the tenth green at Riviera Country Club. For shorter hitters, clever bunkering presents three possible lines off the tee. At the 330-yard seventeenth, where the last forty yards play downhill, the correct line to some hole locations is via a slope left of the green, from which the ball will carom or roll toward the flag. It may bring to mind the third at Cruden Bay.

Other strong holes at Lake Presidential include eight, nine and eighteen, all of which play around a lake the architects created by damming a creek that ran through the property.

Lake Presidential Golf Club 2817 Crain Highway, Upper Marlboro, Maryland

Architect: Landmark Land Company, 2008. Yardage: 7,230. Par: 72. Green Fees: $80–$95. Contact: 301-574-3330, lakepresidential.com.