(Sixth in a Series)
FLOYD — The Rome Sentinel Golf Tour visited Camroden this week. The course has been with the same family for years, and the Bambergers have no plans of leaving.
Matt and Marie Bamberger took over the course in June 2008 from Matt’s parents, Mike and Christine, who had owned the course since October 1975.
Christine was Camroden’s golf pro while managing the clubhouse. Over the years, she’s introduced the game of golf to many people, particularly instructing women and juniors.
Matt’s brother Aaron works as the course superintendent, a key part in the course’s development and maintenance.
Before the Bambergers owned the course, Carl and Roseanne Martin owned it, breaking ground in 1962. The first tee opened up in 1963. Originally, where the golf course is now, used to be farmland.
“Carl Martin was a contractor,” Matt Bamberger said. “He left a lot of area between the seventh and eighth hole and the second and fifth hole because he wanted to build some houses in between and start a little housing development in the middle of the golf course.”
The size of Camroden is just over 84 acres, according to Bamberger.
“You’ll notice a lot of wide fairways and just empty open space out there,” Bamberger said. “When Carl built the greens, they were little target areas, just circles. Everything was straight and the tee boxes were rather small.”
Bamberger said that when his parents took over the course, trees were added.
“My dad was a landscape architect so he planted trees to the sides of the fairways to try to bring some definition to the holes,” Bamberger said.
“He also started to expand and shape the greens.”
When the course first opened, it was called Camroden Heights Golf and Country Club. Once the Bambergers took over, they shifted away from “the whole private philosophy,” Matt Bamberger said.
“When my parents got here, there were only 10-15 carts,” Matt Bamberger said. “Everyone was using pull carts or carried their bag. But when my parents were here they bumped it up to about 25 carts. Today, we’re up to 34 carts.”
Matt says that the goal is to get up to 40 carts because business is more based on outings and leagues.
Bamberger said the clubhouse was expanded in the summer of 1992.
“This place (the clubhouse) was built in the mid 1860s. Instead of tearing it down and building a separate building, we decided to maintain the character of the old farmhouse,” Bamberger said. “We added a cellar underneath it and used all that fill for the patios.”
Adding things to the course has been an ongoing project.
“In the early 2000s, we started to add ponds to the course,” Bamberger said. “There used to be a lot of marshy areas. So instead of going the sand trap route, which requires more maintenance, we decided to use what we naturally have here because we’re known as a wet course. There are lot of low areas that we’re digging out and building some nice ponds as hazard areas.”
Bamberger said that they’ve used much of the extra fill to extend the tee boxes, giving the course four different tiers of tees.
“The pro tees go out over 7,000 yards. Which for a nine-hole course is pretty good,” Bamberger said. “It’s one of the longest nine-hole courses in the area.”
The fill from the ponds was used to start filling in the ditches that are throughout the course.
Camroden was able to open on March 17, which Bamberger says is good for them.
Bamberger also says that the signature hole of Camroden is hole No. 7.
“It’s a 420-yard par four. It has a crowned green and it requires two good shots,” Bamberger explained. “We added a pond in on the left which narrows the fairway down. So once you get past the pond at 200 yards, it begins to widen out. It’s a little forgiving off of the tee if you hit it right.”
Since Matt and Marie took over the course in 2008, they’ve also been working to make the greens faster.
“We’re trying to thin them out so they’re not so spongy,” Bamberger said.
And because of the shut down in April because of the coronavirus pandemic, Bamberger said they were able to start some projects, like re-digging the ditches and filling them in.
“We also put in more drainage on the fourth hole and the seventh hole in front of the green,” Bamberger said. “We’re still working on the front of the tee on three to finish that up to put more drainage in there.”
“I think we’re finally making some progress on drying the course out,” Bamberger said.
Bamberger also said that through the whole pandemic, they’ve been pretty busy.
“The only way we’ve been affected is that we’ve lost outings and tournaments,” Bamberger said. “There are a lot of people coming out and playing because the weather has been nice.”
Although Camroden is only a nine hole course, I asked Matt and Marie if they had plans to make another nine.
“No,” Matt said. “There are so many golf courses in the area really and people enjoy the nine that we have. I think there are other avenues that we can take.”
The Bambergers are looking to expand into events at the golf course instead of making another nine holes.
“We appreciate the community of golfers who support us, many who have played here for several years,” Marie said.
As for my time at Camroden, I really liked this course.
It played to my game with it being wide open. Like right off of the first tee, which is a straight shot with a tiny dog leg to the right to get to the green, I was able to put the ball right in the middle of the fairway and reach the green in two.
The second hole, a long par 5, has water to the left of the fairway, about 200 yards down it. Once you’re clear of the water, you have straight shot to the green. There’s a slight dog leg right but nothing too major.
Three is a short and drivable par 4. I landed my drive about 40 yards short of the green. It’s a straight shot off of the tee box. On the fourth hole, it’s wide open. The woods are to the far right side of the fairway. Some advice on four: don’t go right.
Five is a long par 5 with another wide open fairway. Six is a par 3, with a tricky green that has a downhill slope, depending on where the pin is.
Seven, Camroden’s signature hole, is a straight shot off of the tee box, with a pond about halfway down the fairway on the left.On the right, there’s woods. Keep it straight.
Eight is a short par 4 that goes uphill to the green. The closer you get to the green, the wider the fairway and rough gets. There’s a little hedgerow that sits behind the green. And to finish your round, another par 3, slightly uphill off of the tee box.
Overall, I enjoyed my round at Camroden and I’ll be back to play again very soon.