Delaware Golf - Views from the Greens of the First State

Text and Photos by Jeffrey A. Rendall

 

DELAWARE – It’s kind of ironic, but the slogan that appears on the State of Delaware’s license plates says ‘First State.’  It’s a reference to the fact that Delaware was the first to ratify the United States Constitution, hence, becoming the ‘first’ of the United States.

 

It’s only ironic in the sense that Delaware was the last state in the Mid-Atlantic that we here at GolfTheMidAtlantic.com were able to visit and feature any of its golf courses.

 

That’s certainly not due to a perceived lack of quality or availability on Delaware’s part – on the contrary, we’ve been itching for some time to make a trip ‘up there’ to see what golf is like in this relatively small geographic territory.

 

And after seeing five of Delaware’s golf courses this year (2006), we’re kicking ourselves for not having gotten there before.  We wouldn’t rank Delaware’s golf product above or below any of the other Mid-Atlantic States, but we’d feel plenty comfortable placing it amongst the easiest to get to (from the Baltimore/Washington corridor) and best valued of any of the regions – if for no other reason, there’s no sales tax. 

 

With many tourist areas hiking their sales taxes up to take ‘advantage’ of healthy tourist visitation, that’s as much as a 10% savings over places just down the road.

 

Delaware’s also not a bad place to visit the outlet malls… after golf, of course.

 

In all fairness, the Delaware eastern shore is about the same as Ocean City (in terms of quality of golf), though we found Bethany Beach to be significantly ‘calmer’ and more kid-friendly.  And the other First-State ‘area’ we visited was Wilmington, which looks little different than any other large municipality.

 

It is what it is, and we liked it.

 

Of the five golf courses we visited, two are private, so unless you know a member, you’ll have to stick to the public cart paths.  All of the courses are relatively new or recently restored – so they’ve all got the most modern of amenities and service.

 

So don’t be like us – put the ‘First State’ towards the top of your must-visit list.  Here’s a sampling of what you’ll see there:




Arthur Hills worked his magic at one of the region's most interesting land use/preservation projects, White Clay Creek Golf Club at Delaware Park (in Wilmington). The 'race' theme is present throughout, with jockey helmets serving as flag sticks. Bring your game to the 'Park,' because this one is not for the meek of heart - or wild off the tee. Here, the par five 10th hole.



DuPont Country Club used to host an annual LPGA major championship, and now it's been restored by Lester George. Having never seen it prior to the work, I can't say how it's improved - but it'd be hard to argue about the shape it's in after George came to town. It's beautiful, fun and interesting. Here, looking back from the par four 3rd hole.



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Bear Trap Dunes is a Rick Jacobson design, located a few miles inland from Bethany Beach. As you can see here, the 'Dunes' theme is present throughout, giving the course much more of an ocean-side flavor. Here, the par three 4th hole on the Grizzly nine.



The brand new Bayside Resort lies just across the bay from Ocean City, presenting views of the skyline from a few of its holes. The Jack Nicklaus signature course is part of a planned community, but there's much seclusion to be found. Here, looking at the view from the par four 1st tee.



West of Rehoboth Beach is The Peninsula, another planned community featuring a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course. Nicklaus refuses to include 'signature' elements in his designs, but at The Peninsula, expect to find sand... a lot of it!



There's a GPS system on the carts at White Clay Creek, and you'd better take a look at the hole layouts prior to hitting your tee shot on every hole. The creek is ever-present on this golf course, and some holes present several different ways to find it. Here, the par four 16th hole.



DuPont Country Club's members enjoy some of the best playing conditions we've seen in the region. Not bad for a course that only recently had been shut down for the restoration work. The putting surfaces were absolutely perfect. Looking close to the green on the par five 11th hole.



Bear Trap Dunes is part of a residential neighborhood, yet is very much a 'core' golf course. The houses are most definitely reachable on some of the perimeter holes, but if you're looking and hitting straight, you probably won't even know they're there. Here, the par five 7th hole on the Kodiak nine.



You'll gather at least two things from playing at Bayside Resort. First, it's wide. You wouldn't necessarily expect that from this type of marsh setting, but the playing areas are more than generous. It's also LONG. From the back tees, there's over 7,500 yards of Delaware between you and the clubhouse. Bring the big dog, and let it bark. Here, looking back from the green of the par five 11th hole.



Looking towards The Peninsula's 17th green (from the right side). Nicklaus leaves plenty of space to miss the putting surface, but as is demonstrated here - there very well could be trouble between you and the flag if you're not in a good spot. To get it up-and-down, you're going to have to hit high wedge shots off of tight lies. For most of us, that's a tough task.


Details:

White Clay Creek Country Club

Wilmington, DE  19804

 

Telephone:  (302) 994-6700

 

Website:  whiteclaycreek.com

 

DuPont Country Club

Wilmington, DE

 

Website:  dupontcountryclub.com

 

DuPont Country Club is a private club – consult the club for more information.

 

Bear Trap Dunes

Ocean View, DE

 

Website:  beartrapdunes.com

 

Bayside Resort

Fenwick Island, DE

 

Website:  golfbayside.com

 

The Peninsula

Millsboro, DE

 

Website:  peninsuladelaware.com 

 

The Peninsula is a private community and golf club.  Consult the website for further information on the community and membership.


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E-mail Jeff Rendall, Editor:
jrendall@golftheunitedstates.com