Lodestone GC: Rock-solid attraction

No. 13 at Lodestone

McHENRY, Md. – Behind the 10th tee at the new Lodestone Golf Club, there’s a bench where players can take a brief, midround respite. It’s also a chance to admire the work of architects Hale Irwin and Todd Schoeder. There’s much to appreciate on this big, rugged layout.

Lodestone, which opened last month, rolls across 285 acres of mountainous terrain high above Wisp Resort and Deep Creek Lake, which locals have taken to calling the Lake Tahoe of the East. The $17 million project took three years of permitting and three years of difficult construction because of underlying rock formations that required extensive blasting. (The name Lodestone refers to a rock with magnetic qualities.)

Though the holes are carved through the trees, there is an emphasis on width, playability and strategic angles to enormous, sloping greens, including the Biarritz 12th. There are split fairways on four holes – Nos. 6, 10, 14 and 18 – in some cases to make use of the rock formations.

“We were on top of granite beams,” Schoeder says. “You can only blast so much.”

Schoeder recalls being instantly smitten with the vistas when he first began working on the master plan eight years ago. On the par-3 eighth, he notes, the views beyond the green extend nearly 50 miles on clear days. Schoeder says he and Irwin incorporated those vistas into the design “to make holes appear shorter or longer.” Steve Richards, one of Wisp’s owners, says more tree thinning is planned to take even greater advantage of the lake and mountain scenery.

The par-72 layout sits at 2,973 feet, the highest elevation in the state, and the Irwin tees can be extended to 7,507 yards. The practice range is scheduled to be completed by fall.

Lodestone, managed by OB Sports, is located about two hours south of Pittsburgh, near the tip of Maryland’s western panhandle.

“We’re within 200 miles of 20 million people, and that’s truly what drives this market,” Richards says.

Lodestone is open for public play, with plans to transition to private play, with some resort traffic.

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