Lodestone Golf Club
The design team was able to create a sustainable, tournament-caliber 18-hole golf course on this
challenging and environmentally sensitive mountaintop site, by respecting and enhancing the natural
environment. This destination mountain golf experience was designed to complement the existing
Wisp Resort and provide an amenity for surrounding residential development. Site-sensitive design
and strategic integration of the namesake Lodestone rock outcroppings became the defining
framework for the golf course and surrounding neighborhood communities.
For over 30 years, Wisp Resort has thrived as a four-season resort with access to such amenities as an
Olympic-level white water rafting course, a mountain roller coaster, a ski hill, a restaurant, a hotel
and a day lodge as well as beautiful Deep Creek Lake. However, in order to leverage the resort to a
broader and more exclusive clientele (from the nearby metropolitan areas of Baltimore, Washington
D.C and Pittsburgh) as well as to take better advantage of the unused portion of the resort’s 1,400+
acres that overlooks Deep Creek Lake, the resort’s partnership hired the design team to create an
upscale golf and residential community on the top of Marsh Mountain. The design team adeptly
created this prestigious course – on land that had formerly had extensive erosion and contaminated
wetlands and streams from over 70 years of timber harvesting – by incorporating Lodestone rock
outcroppings and routing the holes through the now tree-covered mountain. The result is
championship-caliber golf course with creative routing and breath-taking views.
We embraced the site’s natural features through creative golf hole placement ensuring the protection
and preservation of sensitive wetlands, trout streams and key drainage ways by integrating them
within the championship-caliber golf course. As a result, the golf course was routed around the entire
property to take advantage of a variety of prominent landscape features, eco-systems and wildlife
habitat. The strategic component of the golf course is reminiscent of 1920's classic golf course design,
as it looks much harder than it plays with center-line bunkering and visual deception tactics. The
course challenges the better player and is forgiving to the less-skilled golfer. The landscape architect
used selective clearing, unique grading practices, and wetland and wildlife preservation, to create a
golf course that offers an incredibly rich golf, community, landscape and experience with nature.
In the early stages of design, the discovery of several dramatic moss-covered rock features provided
both a design challenge and opportunity. These outcroppings occur sporadically throughout the site
and linking the golf course around them became a guiding factor of the routing and design concepts.
Most notably, the location for the 17th hole drove the routing for the back nine with the most dramatic
rock feature on the entire site. In addition, the mountainous topography provided the opportunity to
position golf holes to practice one of the most fundamental landscape design strategies: “the
borrowed view.” These captured views are evident throughout the golf course and include the distant
Laurel Highlands, Deep Creek Lake and the Alleghany Mountain Range. Also, the routing brings
sensitive mountain wetlands and streams into the strategy of the golf course at key locations, while
also maintaining vegetative filtration so as not to contaminate the waterways with golf course runoff.
Environmental Sensitivity – The Lodestone Golf Club was only the second golf course that was
approved and permitted by the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) in Garrett County, MD.
During the spring months, the mountainous property teems with ground-fed streams, drainage ways
and vibrant wetlands. An initial metric was set to limit wetland and stream disturbance to less than
one-half acre throughout the entire 1,400-acre property. This measurable goal was met, and, after two
years of operation, the streams still flow as clearly as they did before the golf course was constructed.
The design team and project engineer developed and implemented a $1.3M erosion and sediment
control plan (E & S Plan) to protect water quality during construction. Coincidentally, the first of two
construction seasons came with record rain falls that tested the limits of the system. The controls
remained intact, protecting the adjacent trout stream and wetlands from sediment transport. (The
system was required to remain intact until 75% seed germination was established, thus restoring much
needed groundcover and understory to the erosion prone, timber-cleared mountain sides.) The Army
Corp of Engineers (ACOE) and MDE praised the design and now use these practices as a standard for
golf development in Maryland.
Also, the landscape architect implemented several important design solutions in order to
comprehensively treat and protect water quality. These measures not only treat runoff from the golf
course runoff but were also designed to handle the runoff from future residential parcels. This can be
seen clearly on the 14th hole where a vegetative swale and bio-filter basin were designed into the
strategy of the golf hole to collect runoff from the adjacent residential property and redirect it into the
vegetative swale and ultimately back into a nearby stream. This system allows for the water to be
cleansed before re-entering the natural drainage ways.
Finally, the team designed the course with an awareness of the wildlife present on the site before
development. One of the most charming aspects of the property is the abundance of deer that live
there and by maintaining native, vegetative corridors between golf holes (and even on some of the
holes themselves), the course maintains a vital deer habitat throughout property. In addition, the deer
can now be seen throughout the golf course and add a tremendous, natural quality to the golfing
Design Aesthetic– The landscape architect employed extensive use of native grasses, a strict and
selective tree clearing plan, unique golf course features and strategic placement of golf holes next to
unique site features to create a golf course that sits in harmony with the mountainous landscape and
deciduous forest of the Laurel Highlands. In addition to saving water through increased native areas,
the native grasses provide a sublime and picturesque edge transition between the manicured turf and
the native understory of the forest that includes existing Mountain Laurel and native ferns. The native
grasses are also used on the backside of bunkers to further the notion of blurring the edge between the
golf course and the native landscape.
The team utilized topographic relief to create dramatic, downhill golf shots that tempt players of all
abilities and that create powerful landscape experiences. Through intense, up-front analysis, the
landscape architects laid golf holes upon the land in ways that take advantage of the most spectacular
views from the site, enhancing the overall golf experience.
Local community –By providing jobs for many local residents, the construction and maintenance of
the golf course has greatly benefitted the overall community in McHenry. Additionally, the golf
course serves as the open space framework for the Lodestone residential community. The landscape
architect’s plan included the creation of trails and roadways that cross between golf holes. The course
has nearly six miles of a meandering eight–foot-wide cart path/circulation system that doubles as a
cross-country ski trail in the winter and pedestrian loop during non-golf times in the summer. Also,
maintained vegetation between the golf and residential areas serves to maintain the character of the
mountainous landscape and buffer golf, development and wildlife. The team designed the course’s
buffers at 450 feet – much wider than the typical 360-foot golf course corridor. The wider buffer
allows for a expansive vegetative and wildlife corridor and safer golfer experience, while at the same
time eliminating the double-loaded real estate scenario common in residential golf course
Teeming with clear streams, and punctuated with dramatic rock outcroppings, the golf course is a
series of dramatically undulating emerald landscapes that meander through the forest and tours the
golfer through the mountainous Laurel Highlands.
Lodestone Golf Club – Image Captions
Image 01 - The Master Plan illustrates the broadness of the routing. The design team
intentionally strung the course routing across Marsh Mountain to capture and engage the
numerous site attributes into the strategy of the golf course.
Image 02 - Early strategic options were studied to create a golf course that offers unique
experiences. Included in this sampling is the Par 4, 6th hole, with two distinct angles to the green
separated by a preserved grouping of trees (also see image #14).
Image 03 - Hole-by-hole analysis was completed to convey the unique strategy of each golf hole.
Hole seven is a true three-shot Par 5 that will challenge even the best players.
Image 04 - This digital painting of the Par 3, 17th was produced early in the design phase to help
illustrate the dramatic quality of the rock outcropping and hole strategy.
Image 05 - The final design of the Par 3, 17th was built with a remarkable resemblance to the
Image 06 - The design team specified native grasses throughout the golf course to reduce the
amount of irrigated turf, thus lowering water consumption and returning the landscape to its
native state. On the Par 4, 4th, this approach is clearly represented.
Image 07 - The striking Par 5, 3rd plays to a green perched on a peninsula of land and guarded by
a series of greenside bunkers.
Image 08 - A maintained drainage way through the Par 5, 3rd, provides a natural wildlife
corridor for deer to move within the golf landscape. Additionally, by providing the deer this
passage, golfers and walkers are presented with wildlife viewing opportunities.
Image 09 - On the Par 3, 5th hole, an existing wetland was protected from golf course runoff
through the use of vegetative swales. During the fall, the wetland vegetation changes to a deep
red color and offer a striking contrast to the maintained turfgrass.
Image 10 - The green for the Par 3, 8th hole was located on the edge of a natural plateau with the
intention of capturing the most dramatic “borrowed view” on the entire course.
Image 11 - Early site analysis, along with creative routing, grading and design allowed for this
spectacular view from the Par 5th, 13th hole to Deep Creek Lake.
Image 12 - Careful consideration was given to every landscape detail. Wetland crossings were
handled with foot-bridges that eliminated wetland disturbances.
Image 13 – From the bunker of the beautiful Par 5, 7th hole. A series of foreshortened bunkers
near the green appear to be guarding the front right portion of the green complex. In reality there
is over a 100 yards between the bunkers and the front of the green.
Image 14 - On top of Marsh Mountain – The design strategy can clearly be seen from this
dramatic aerial photo of the Par 4, 6th hole.
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