After the heat of summer, local public golf courses look forward to September and October, in anticipation of golfers from colder places looking to extend their season.
Sussex County’s public layouts benefit from simple geography, situated as they are north of Ocean City, Md. Touring golf groups from up north can choose to play a Sussex County course or two on the way down to O.C., and play another Sussex course on the way back home.
In part, that’s why Sussex County public golf courses make sure they are in the mix offered by travel bundlers, such as Pam’s Ocean City Golf Getaways.
Heritage Shores Club in Bridgeville actively seeks this part of the golf business, while making sure Sussex County golfers are equally welcome. New management changes and other major improvements are now underway to meet those goals and continue the club's evolution as a popular public golf destination.
Billy Casper Golf assumed management of the club this past spring. The company is a major operator of golf courses, country clubs and resorts throughout the United States. Typically, the Casper folks assume responsibility for all aspects of course operation, from staffing to maintenance to food and beverage, as well as financial management.
Robert Anen is the new general manager for Heritage Shores, brought in recently as part of the Casper team. The new Lewes resident has a significant background in this business, with stints at Pennsylvania clubs such as Huntington Valley and the Merion Cricket Club.
“I’m happy to be here,” Anen said. “This is a real opportunity, and there’s a lot going on.”
He’s not kidding. There are “pardon our mess” signs all over the place, as work continues on a new shop/restaurant adjacent to the 18th hole and a brand-new pond.
The 18th is the old ninth hole, by the way, and that’s a big part of the new changes.
As Anen and head golf pro Brooks Massey explained, the switch of the nines accommodates the relocation of the pro shop to an area immediately adjacent to the large practice range and parking lot, as well as the first tee.
When the round ends, golfers can stop by the new restaurant and retail facility for a quick bite and some logoed memorabilia of a pleasant round. The outside boardwalk/deck adjacent to the new pond also offers a nice view of the 18th green, so golfers can watch their buddies finish their rounds.
Massey gave me a short tour of the course, which is in good condition. The Arthur Hills design used the Florida approach to adding elevation changes to relatively flat property, by building water features and using the fill to add some real challenges for golfers, especially if their shots stray from the fairway. Some of the mounding will also dictate where to aim in the fairway for the best approach to the well-guarded greens.
Massey also showed me the short course practice facility on the back of the range, where assistant golf pro Will Scarborough runs a Monday clinic featuring oversize putting holes.
Other changes are in progress, such as an updating of the 250-plus-seat ballroom this winter. Anen is also experimenting with the menus at the restaurants, such as Passwater’s and the 1730 Tavern.
The club does a nice bit of wedding business, and offers meeting space and other options for local companies. Anen knows a full day on the golf course is not always available, but a meeting, lunch and nine holes is an option Heritage provides.
Cape Region businesses should benefit from the improvements made at Heritage and the other Sussex County golf courses, such as The Rookery North and South, and Baywood Greens. Those four courses are well within a half-hour’s ride of each other, as well as several Cape Region hotels and restaurants.
Maybe we could use a golf getaway bundler just for Sussex County, especially during the midweek periods when the hotels are looking to fill rooms.
Local club competition results
The Kings Creek Country Club Ladies Golf League played Scramble/Beat the Pro Sept. 11.
Anita Pettitt, Susan Spence and Atom Irwin combined for first place, with Pettitt also winning closest to the pin for the day. Joan Crowley, Melanie Pereira, Theresa Derville and Winnie Sewell won second place, with the third-place spot going to Faye Slatcher, Ruth Lauver, Barbara Hines and Brenda Butterfield.
The Sussex Pines Ladies Golf Association played a Stableford tournament Sept. 15. Sandy Harrison won first place, with Jenifer Hagy in second and Dee Prilaman in third.