Progress continues at Southern Delaware Golf Club

Former Shawnee Country Club/Rookery North still on target for late spring opening
September 16, 2023

“We’ve made lots of progress, and there’s still a lot to do.”

That was Bill Kupfer’s assessment of the work he and other staffers for the Southern Delaware Golf Club did this summer to prepare the former Shawnee Country Club for reopening next spring.

I recently met with the SDGC director of agronomy to discuss what they accomplished at the Milford course since our June conversation.

A huge pile of greens mix lies near the entrance along S. Rehoboth Boulevard. Kupfer said this material will be the new bedding for the 18 greens. The mix combines sand from a Dover area borrow pit with organics from North Dakota (mostly peat) at an 85/15 proportion. Once spread over the greens’ base, the seeding will commence, which began this past week.

Kupfer said the weather and other challenges slowed up some seeding plans, but not enough to change the overall schedule. For example, while total rainfall numbers for the year are on track, too much of it came in only four storms. More time was needed to keep new turf watered and safe because of the hot dry conditions.

The fairways were seeded with an updated Bermuda grass strain at what Kupfer said was a pretty high rate. I saw signs the new sprouts were coming up.

Much of the bunker work is essentially completed, especially the placement of zoysia sod from Salisbury, Md. The sand walls that appeared on most of the bunkers are gone. Only the bottom portion will hold sand, which provides several benefits. 

Golf balls hitting the zoysia tend to bounce and roll down to the floor, making it easier to escape the bunkers. In addition, the reduced sand surface reduces the maintenance burden.

SDGC is also following the general trend to reduce the number of bunkers. Kupfer said the course previously had 72 bunkers. After conversion of some to grass swales, combining some, and eliminating others, it should end up with about 65.

Some greens are further along than others. The eighth green was reshaped nicely, now featuring a diagonal ridge line, subtle mounding and a modest false front to add to the challenge. 

We also talked about upcoming work items. 

Each pond will be cleaned out and edged with white rock borders. That should reduce erosion risks and discourage waterfowl, a nice twofer.

About 500 of the roughly 600 irrigation heads still need replacing. The new Toro heads are more easily accessed for maintenance or repair than past models. New control systems are being installed. Fortunately, most of the irrigation piping remains in good shape.

A wet area adjacent to the 11th fairway and pond for the 17th hole will be cleared, with river rock installed as a clear and obvious hazard to avoid. 

Other ideas are in the conceptual stage, such as creating a new tee box for the 205-yard par 3 fourth hole to convert it to a drivable par 4.

The country club’s former tennis courts will also be rebuilt for pickleball.

The late spring opening target date remains in place. “We gave ourselves a little window. We’ll see where we are at as we go on,” Kupfer said. 

I also met SDGC owner Tim Johnson, who readily admitted to being passionate about the renovation.

“It’s a need for the city, it’s a need for Kent and Sussex counties, for the citizens of the local area,” he said. “Milford is going to be our next growth area. I have a lot of time and investment in the City of Milford here. We have some shopping centers and other buildings and other facilities.”

“Amenities are what you need,” he continued. “It’s going to bring other people to Milford. When this is up and running, you’re going to see other businesses come to Milford because of the golf course. I’m very excited about it.”

Makes sense to me.

Local club competition results

The Mulligan’s Pointe Ladies 18-Hole group played a Crier tournament Sept. 12.

In the first division, Valerie Grib won the front nine, followed by Peggy Claussen. Sue Ahern won the back nine, with Tammy Findlay in second. Maxine Ansbach won the full 18, followed by Brenda Joyce.

Kathy Marks won the front nine for the second division, with Jackie Adams in second. Donna Dolce won the back nine, followed by Susan Gatcomb. Pam Pichola won the full 18, followed by Chris Allison.

The Kings Creek CC Ladies 18-Hole group played a Beat the Pro scramble Sept. 7, in what Jean Chlastawa described as “brutally hot” conditions.

Mary Ann Veitch, Margie Moore and Chris Piaseck won the first flight, with Mena Colucci, Fay Slatcher, Joanne Yurik and Francie Young in second.

Linda Kelleher, Kay Woollen, Darci Whitehead and Alicia Polsky took the second flight, followed by Judy Wetzel, Carol Simon, Patricia Magee and Pamela Cranston.

Assistant pro Eric Willey made it impossible for one group to beat him when he jarred a shot on the 14th hole.


  • 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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