pure joy when you find a momentary secret…




I don’t know about you. There are many times when I stand on the first tee and peer down that fairway with no clue as to where my shot may end up. I do all the visualization. I picture the ball soaring off, down the middle and landing softly, positioned for my shot to the green.

Then, I tee it up and stand over the ball and my mind goes on a rampage. I remember that there are trees on the right and left. I am dead if I push it right.  I inhale and exhale and begin my back swing………….I am thinking slow and smooth.

         evil-angel              Then that evil angel whispers….””Let it rip”

                                                                                               Let it RIP !!!!!

and my body uncoils like a dysfunctional cat………………..knees shifting, hips turning trying to keep pace with hands that are moving like an out of control freight train. Contact is made and the ball explodes off the tee.

This momentary abdication of control leads to the most asked question on the tee. “Did anybody see where it went?’

Just to be sure you understand, this is not a first tee jitter ailment. No, this foible creeps it’s ugly head at various times through out the day. You can be rolling along, parring a few here and nothing worse than a bogey there. Then out of a clear blue sky, you are faced with a twenty or thirty yard chip shot. Nothing major. Just a little soft wedge to a green. You have made this shot about a thousand times. 

You stand over the ball and suddenly visions of a dead shank race into your mind. You step back and inhale focusing on exhaling slowly. You stand over the shot, take the club back slowly and the angel whispers again…SHANK……….and it happens. You rush the downswing and the ball does a crazy wild bend to the right, leaving you the same distance from the green.

You walk over and it happens again. You may chuckle (while your insides are doing a battle between fury at yourself and fear that you may never hit another ball straight again) and walk to the ball. This time discretion becomes the better part of valor and you take your putter out of the bag and resort to the old Texas wedge.

I have suffered. It continues. Then I was at the range hitting balls. Just your average evening of hitting 165 balls with a soft wedge. Just a night full of watching one after another jump from the club face and go dead right.



Then on one frantic attempt the ball soared straight. It rose fifty yards straight up and landed forty yards away. I quickly did a mental check list and realized that I felt my right elbow brush my chest as I came through the ball. I dropped another ball. I focused on the feeling. Bingo, it also took off  in a perfect line.

Another momentary secret discovered. Pure joy.


Gunpowder Golf…..experience yesterday today


Welcome to Gunpowder Golf Club

Back in the late 80’s, I moved to Burtonsville, Md. On a late fall, Saturday afternoon, I went exploring in my new neighborhood. I was driving down Old Gunpowder Road and saw a sign for the Gunpowder Golf Club. I pulled in.

The pro shop was small but offered a wide array of golf gear. The snack bar was adjacent to the pro shop and I was struck by the wood  burning fireplace in the corner. I inquired about fees, etc. I don’t remember the cost back then (it has been 20 years). I do remember thinking that it was a bargin rate.

I rented a cart, loaded my clubs and headed to the first tee. I still recall my horror as my tee shot sailed down the middle of the fairway and into the trees beyond the dogleg right. I loved the course. It had been carved out of a rock quarry. The course was built back in 1956. Mr. Milligan designed and built the course. He sold the rocks he pulled out of the front nine to pay for the construction of the back nine.

Now, the front nine is tight. It is short, but only the most accurate golfer will let out the lumber. A misplayed shot will certainly find trees. Often, a shot that finds the trees is in such a place that you can’t get there from here. If you are lucky enough to find your ball, pitching back onto the fairway is your best option. 

Some people scoff at Gunpowder. It certainly is not a high priced, well manicured country club. I will be the first to agree that the local rule of moving your ball up to one club length inside the tree line is necessary to avoid dings from the rocks that continue to find their way to the surface. I will also swear that there is not a more beautiful view than from the 16th tee in the fall.

The most endearing thing about the course is the collection of regulars. When I first started playing there, there was a hustle on Sunday, Monday,  Wednesday, Friday and Saturday morning. The weekends featured two seperate hustles. The Big Boys selected teams and played best ball gross. There were 4 or 5 members to each team. They also played closest to the pin on the par 3’s. The other group was called the Retiree’s, probably because they played 5 days a week. The played 4 man teams best 2 balls, net. They also played closest to the pin on three of the par 3s. They excluded the 4th hole because no one in the retirees group could reach it.

Money did exchange hands.

Now, I drifted in and out of Gunpowder over the years. Everytime I would decide that I wanted to play a more upscale venue, I would leave. I always came back. I was always greeted by the crowd like a long lost son.

Over the years, folks have moved away. Lots of the guys have died. Friends have come and gone. Not one of the folks that shows up early for the hustle would admit it, but we all come back for the love. There is a bond between us that goes beyond matches won and lost. There is a kinship that develops amongst us, facing the everchanging landscape.

I will forever remember Ali, Manny, Ken, Wally, Warren, Cy….the list goes on.

The course is challenging, the experience is life changing. Play Gunpowder and become a thread of the history that has become a beautiful tapestry of golf, games, and friends.

Just remember……you have to wait on number three (you can reach the green in two), you can reach number five, the tee shot on seven is blind and yes…those are deer trotting through the course.

Olney Golf Park…Making a difference one swing at a time !



Olney Golf Park is located just south of town on Georgia Avenue. The actual address is on Emory Church Road. It is a short drive for any golfer in the area. There is plenty of free parking.


The Golf Park has a fully stocked pro shop. The staff is well versed in all of the merchandise and there are actually professionals that offer club fitting. Other amenities of pro shops are also offered including club fitting.


It is not a driving range. It was never intended to be a place where folks could just let out the shaft and bang golf balls for thirty minutes. If that is your pleasure, you will be accommodated.


If you want to maintain or improve your game…this training facility is for you!


The above picture gives an overview of the site. You don’t see the large practice putting green. You don’t see the smaller green used for chipping. You don’t see the bunkers for working on sand play. You have to see it to experience it.


The good folks at the Olney Golf Park have a website which ishttp://www.olneygolfpark.com


Now, there are many that are aware that very quietly, the ownership at the park has offered their facility as an avenue for recreation to our wounded troops recuperating at Walter Reed.  This has been featured in the Army Times http://www.army.mil/-news/2008/05/08/9056-salute-military-golf-helps-wounded-get-back-in-swing/


If golf is your game, you can sharpen all the tools right here in Olney. Your support of the Golf Park will also enable them to continue their support for our troops as they come home.


Now, that with a lower handicap, is a WIN WIN situation.

Don’t let the economy or weather steal your swing !

The economy is downright frightful.

The weather is far from delightful.

Before you let your golf swing go,

maintain your mo,

maintain your mo,

maintain your mo.

Sure, the cold winds of fall have brought an end to our Indian Summer. Don’t let this turn of events to turn the swing you have been working on to mold in mothballs. I have found..The Olney Golf Park. The tee boxes are shielded from the wind on one side and feature heaters (FREE) overhead. The brand new range balls, thankfully yellow, replicate shots seen all summer. The shop has all the gear you might need and it is that “clearance sale” time of the year. I have been seen loading up my car with bargins I discovered on clubs, balls and a fine new pair of Foot Joys.

You can sit back in your easy chair. You can fool yourself into thinking that the Wii will keep your swing grooved. You can chip balls over the couch. You can knock putts across the carpet. You can do all that and then show up next spring.

The folks that spent some of their leisure time at The Olney Golf Park over the winter will be waiting for you. Of course, they will be hoping that you bring your wallet.

This is the latest information from The Olney Golf Park.

News and Updates
Winter Range Ball Cards
30 Day Member Card – $99.99
Save up to $560.00
• Hit up to 60 Large Buckets in 30 days for less than $100.00!
• This card is valid for 30 consecutive days from the date of purchase.
• Maximum of 2 Buckets per Day

Winter Member Card – $250.00
• Receive a 50% discount on Range Balls at the machine.
• $250.00 Savings.
• There are no restrictions on the use of this card. Use it over the next 4 months or all in one weekend; your choice.
• This Card Expires on March 15, 2009

50% OFF
Winter Lesson Series
Take advantage of the off season!
3 Lesson Series – ½ OFF the Regular Lesson Rate.

Teaching Professional Brendan Horton
3 Lesson Series $105.00
Normally $70.00 / 45 Minute Lesson

Head Professional Dayne Bulloch
3 Lesson Series $120.00
Normally $80.00 / 45 Minute Lesson

PGA/LPGA Professional Liza Abood
3 Lesson Series $120.00
Normally $80.00 / 45 Minute Lesson
Liza will be Unavailable for lessons between January 1st and February 22nd

PGA Director of Instruction Jim Estes
3 Lesson Series $165.00
Normally $110.00 / 1 Hour Lesson
All Lessons must be completed by March 15th 2009

Relieve Your Stress at Olney Golf Park.
Beating our new Range Balls is good for the Mind, Body and Soul .
Hang in there!