Playing Heritage Shores
Some of my usual golf gang recently traveled with me to Bridgeville to play Heritage Shores Golf Club.
I have written about Heritage in this column several times in various contexts, including high school match reports, charitable tournaments, and a full column several years ago about course changes made since its opening in 2007.
During all that time, however, I had not actually played the Arthur Hills design, one of three the recently deceased course architect created in Delaware.
I am sorry I waited – and I plan to make up for lost opportunities as soon as possible.
We came to Heritage on a Monday morning, just after tropical storms Fred, Grace, and Henri drenched Sussex County. Head golf pro Pete McCaffrey told me the course received several inches of rain.
McCaffrey and the starter both asked us to keep our required golf carts on either the cart path or the rough immediately adjacent to that pavement, and to stay completely on the path for the 10th and 11th holes.
As we walked out to our tee shots on the first hole, we could see and feel why they were so cautious. The fairway turf was spongy-soft and very, very damp. The rough was high, most likely because the prior days’ weather kept it from being cut.
The wet conditions perhaps best explained why our foursome was among the few playing that day, despite sunny skies and light breezes.
The conditions effectively stretched the course length. My drives carried 205 to 215 yards in the air and plugged immediately – that is, if the ball didn’t bounce back a foot or so from the initial impact. I didn’t see any significant roll forward from the tee shots until late in the round. At one point, I suggested to my buddies that my total roll yardage for the day was about 20 to 30 feet.
McCaffrey said the wet conditions added 300 to 400 yards in effective length, converting the 5,906-yard white tees into the near equivalent of the blue championship tees.
None of that really mattered if we played an aerial game. We accepted what we could obtain from the tee shots. Using lift, clean and place, we used longer clubs into the greens or the layup areas for the par fives than we would have in dry weather.
It took about two holes to convince the low-ball hitter in our group to move up a tee box or two to make it fairer for him.
The greens were receptive, in great condition, and fun to putt. The balls rolled true to the intended line, and for some reason the lines were easy to calculate. The bunkers drained well after the storms and played firmly but fairly. You could plan on a fair amount of spin and swing accordingly. This approach worked particularly well for me out of a pot bunker on the par 3 16th hole.
From a playing strategy perspective, any potential troubles from the tee boxes were readily apparent. There were no blind drives. Striped 150-yard poles in the center of the par 4s and 5s were also a big help in figuring the best approach options, especially for those of us unfamiliar with the layout. We also used my Arccos app in deciding where best to lay up on par 5s.
The ponds provided much of the fill needed to create the sometimes-surprising elevation changes throughout the course. They certainly added to the challenge but also provided aesthetic compensations. We watched a determined cormorant struggle and fail to hold onto a fish that was just too big for him.
Situated within a housing development, the distances from greens to tees are sometimes a stretch. Walking is permitted, although you should be prepared for a longer stroll than you might think.
Memberships are available. For more information, contact Heritage Shores at 302-337-7514.
Sept. 25 golf clinic at Bayside
Bob Crowther, PGA director of golf at Bayside Resort Golf Club near Selbyville, will hold a golf clinic from 4 to 5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 25, to support USMC Sgt. Tyler Vargas-Andrews. Preregistration for attending the clinic is not necessary.
Vargas-Andrews sustained serious injuries Aug. 26 during the evacuation in Afghanistan. He is undergoing treatment at Walter Reed Hospital. Donations will be accepted during the clinic to offset medical expenses and care.
Crowther is a former Marine and a father of a Marine who is a good friend of Vargas-Andrews. “I look forward to a great afternoon of golf and contributing to this young man’s future,” Crowther said.
Participants may donate at the clinic through an online GoFundMe page. A donation link is also available at livebayside.com/special-golf-clinic.
Local club competition results
The Kings Creek Ladies 9-Hole group played a team game Sept. 22, won by Cathy Larrabee, Linda Miniscalco and Pam Cranston. Judy Rayner, Janet Hartman and Brenda Schilli took second. Rose Schmidt, Margaret Connors and Margaret Rebarchik finished third.
The Mulligan’s Pointe Ladies played a Two-Women Team game Sept. 21, won by Tammy Findlay and Kathy Hudak. Wendy Michaelson and Linda Snader finished second. Mary Louise York and Carmela Boyle took third.