For the better part of the past 25 years, an idea floated around town that Walden Country Club in Crofton was not open to the general public. Membership fees were exorbitant and only a select few of the local elite were welcome at the club. The aforementioned notion of exclusivity has long been a misconception, according to Fred Ryder III, the new general manager at Walden. Though the club was private in its first few years and now is semiprivate — there are daily tee times available for nonmembers as well as accessibility to the club’s amenities — the club is shedding its old skin and reinventing itself as it celebrates its silver anniversary in 2014.
“We had a lot of people who were still under the perception this course is private,” said Ryder, a former head golf professional at Crofton Country Club. “When the course first opened, it was a private facility — 100 percent. But there are a lot of people still in the community who are under the mindset that this is a private club.”
In May, the club held a grand reopening party to welcome back old, new and potential community members who were eager to see the changes at Walden. Ryder was hired to run the club in January, and he said when he arrived, he noticed many of the fixtures and décor were from the opening of the facility in 1989. Since then, new windows and a new kitchen have been installed and fresh paint “from bottom to top” has been applied.
The new kitchen, Ryder said, will help improve the quality of food presented by whom he called Walden’s talented chefs. The Grill Room restaurant, with a view overlooking the course, also features outdoor, full-service patio seating. Ryder highly recommended the chefs’ Lexington pulled pork platter. “Their food is just phenomenal. It really, really is,” Ryder said. “They are really big on nothing frozen. It’s just delicious.”
Away from the clubhouse, the course has also undergone a facelift. The bunkers and surrounding grass have been rejuvenated on several holes, and golfers will navigate the course with ease with a brand new fleet of carts. “It’s that time of the year — things are really growing up,” Ryder said. “Some of our renovations we’ve done are really starting to pop.”
The current back nine holes were designed by Robert Trent Jones and the course was first known as The Golden Triangle. The front nine were later designed by Lindsay Ervin to complete what is now a fully mature and challenging 18-hole course.
Ryder grew up barely a well-hit tee shot from Walden Country Club. He attended Crofton Woods Elementary School and Crofton Middle School before graduating from Arundel High School in 1994. He’s not the first member of his family to make a career of golf. His father, Fred Ryder Jr., has been the golf director at Bowie Golf and Country Club since 1977 and spent more than six years as a golf pro at Dorado Beach Resort in Puerto Rico, the home course of famed pro golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez.
When the younger Ryder graduated from high school, he turned professional and eventually won several golf tournaments. He plays less now that he is running a country club, but he enjoys seeing old friends playing the course and making new friends throughout the local golfing community.
“I’m from the area and I have a lot of local ties,” Ryder said. “It’s nice being the local guy. Wherever I go, it’s almost very rare that I find a face I don’t recognize or that I’ve known for years.”
Walden Country Club is located at 1500 Riedel Road in Crofton. The club can be reached at 410-721-8268 or by visiting www.waldencountryclub.com.