Delaware golfing rounds drop, but not as expected

April 24, 2020

April 1 was opening day for posting golf scores for handicapping, shortly after the coronavirus pandemic restrictions altered how golf courses operated for their patrons, members and staff. 

The natural effect of placing limitations on outdoor recreation opportunities is to reduce participation. To some extent, this was the intended result. 

Delaware State Golf Association Executive Director Laura Heien told me 1,866 golfers posted 7,423 rounds into the new handicapping system April 1-17.

During that same period in 2019, 12,232 rounds were reported to the DSGA. Because of a switch in reporting systems, Heien said, she could not determine how many golfers posted that five-figure total in 2019. She also said, “Honestly, 60 percent of last year’s numbers is higher than I would have guessed.”

The DSGA members who post their scores by no means reflect the total number of golfers who use the more than 30 golf courses open for play in the state. However, the DSGA set is a handy proxy to understand the general trend.

Heien also noted, “Obviously, there’s some significant revenue loss associated with that drop – but given that many states ... have a zero in the rounds posted column right now, it’s comforting to remember that some is better than none. Hopefully we’re trending in the right direction on all fronts heading into May and beyond.”

DSGA Scholarship application deadline extended

The DSGA Scholarship Fund announced an extension of the original application deadline for college-bound students, from May 1 to June 15. Fund board member Ron Barrows said the extension was intended to address the disruption caused by the pandemic. 

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A watch tribute to Dewey Beach and The Starboard

Jay Carpenter is from Richmond, Va., and a self-described huge fan of the Delaware beaches. He is also the co-founder of Handley Watches, a line of sports watches aimed at active professionals.

One of Handley’s newest models, The Starboard, is a tribute to the famous Dewey restaurant that is one of Carpenter’s favorite haunts when he visits the Cape Region. The quartz movement timekeeper’s black face is 44 mm wide, with a “Starboard blue silicone” wristband. The $195 watch became available for shipment April 15.

Carpenter sent me one of the company’s Nester models a few weeks ago to test. The silicone band fits snugly. It doesn’t move during my golf swings, which I can’t say about other watches I own. The 44 mm watch face is also a nice size – easy to read the time, but not overwhelming on the wrist.

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Sacks Parente reacts to pandemic

Last year, I wrote about Sacks Parente putters and the unusual configuration of weight and materials that produced a pendulum feel I haven’t experienced with any others.

The ultra-low balance point comes from a heavy putter club head matched with very light shafts and grips. Now adopted by touring professionals such as the LPGA’s Louise Ridderstrom and PGA Champions Tour player Ken Duke, the putters are becoming increasingly popular. 

I met again with co-founder Steve Sacks at the 2020 PGA Show and checked out the company’s two new models.

The Series 66 cavity back flange blade putter uses four different metals: brass in front, aluminum in back, a different aluminum alloy for the faceplate, and tungsten weights at the heel and toe. The company’s website says about 80 percent of the total head weight surrounds the perimeter, toe and heel. That extreme weight shift should reduce the negative impact of a mishit.

The Series 18 cavity sole flange blade putter also uses the light aluminum faceplate, and tungsten toe and heel inserts, but the main body of the club is stainless steel. The back of the club is slightly rounded away from the center, in what looks to me like a mini-mallet design. According to the website, this design has a high MOI which helps the putter significantly resist twisting at impact. 

Prior to the pandemic and its disruptions in the golf marketplace, these putters were sold for between $599.95 and $1,199.95, depending on shaft choices.

On April 20, however, Sacks Parente announced a major price break for all of its models for the remainder of 2020.

“Due to the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 crisis, we have made the decision to discount the prices of all our putting instruments immediately,” said Tim Triplett, Sacks Parente CEO. “As we navigate these challenging times, we look forward to beating this virus and playing our favorite game with our favorite putter again soon.”

The new prices for the Series 18 and Series 66 putters range from $479.95 to $979.95, and the Series 39 and Series 54 putters range from $399.95 to $899.95, depending on the shaft choice. The shaft models are the Graphite Composite, Tour and Pro Tour X models, offered in five lengths ranging from 33 to 35 inches.

Even with the cuts, those are admittedly some hefty price tags. On the other hand, golfers typically use their putters for about 40 percent of all strokes during a round.

So the folks at Sacks Parente have that going for them – which is nice.


  • Fritz Schranck has been writing about the Cape Region's golf community since 1999. Snippets, stories and anecdotes from his columns are included in his new book, "Hole By Hole: Golf Stories from Delaware's Cape Region and Beyond," which is available at the Cape Gazette offices, Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, Biblion Books in Lewes, and local golf courses. His columns and book reviews are available at

    Contact Fritz by emailing

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