January 1, 2021
December 31 marked the end of this column’s twenty-second year and, to put it very mildly, an eventful twelve months for Cape Region golf.
January – Laura Heien begins her new role as Executive Director of the Delaware State Golf Association. The World Handicap System goes into effect, adopting elements of the old USGA system and the Royal & Ancient’s methods. Rookery South begins to expand its practice putting green by removing over fifteen trees. Sawyer Brockstedt celebrates a win at the Junior Honda Classic in Florida, topping off a fine fall competition season. I go through a fitting process to change driver shafts, with pleasant results. The PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, FL finishes the month, with robot technology coming to turf and range maintenance.
February – Cobra Golf introduces several new equipment models at the PGA Show, including help for golfers who need it. Kings Creek Director of Instruction Chris Krueger discusses offseason exercise options. The USGA’s Distance Insights Report is pretty unimpressive when the skill level of most golfers is considered. A cold and windy Demo Day at the PGA Show made me think I was not in Florida. COVID-19 starts showing signs of affecting golf, at first for the supply chains from China.
March – DuPont CC announces it will be a local qualifying site for the 2020 U.S. Open. The Cape Henlopen High School Viking golf team begins spring practice, with new assistant coaches Bill Geppert and Mike McGinley joining Head Coach Rob Harrod and veteran volunteer coach Fritz Schranck. However, COVID-19 pandemic restrictions force the cancellation of scholastic sports after two weeks of practice. I describe the conditioning program we instituted for the Cape golf team before the pandemic hit.
April – A fun interview with Ian Fraser and Matt Blois of Tour Experience Golf, a highly ranked club fitting company. New pandemic orders continue their hard hit on golf clubs, affecting cart use, access to indoor facilities, and even whether non-Delawareans can play Delaware courses. The orders expand, restricting tee times, imposing flagstick controls, eliminating caddie programs, and severely limiting food and beverage access. I review the new Walker Trolleys golf pushcart, which is benefiting from the electric/gas cart restrictions. Golf rounds drop in Delaware but not as much as expected, as the sport becomes recognized as a safe alternative to staying indoors.
May – Mask rules on golf courses are imposed, along with other distancing rules. Some pandemic orders begin to soften, permitting cart rental options and cross-state course access. Pushcart sales and rounds increase. Delaware State University women’s golf coach Rick McCall, Jr. discusses the pandemic effects on his multinational team. The USGA cancels local qualifying and moves the U.S. Open date to the fall. Cape region golf leagues begin again with pandemic restrictions but also a sense of relief.
June – Outdoor dining and league play continue to lessen the pandemic’s impact on Cape Region golf. However, the virus alters professional golf schedules, moving the ShopRite LPGA Classic to the fall. Britt Morrison of American Classic Golf Club begins a yoga class for golfers. I note the passing of avid local golfer Tom Metz. The DSGA Scholarship Fund announces the winners of its stipends for the next school year.
July – Nearly two dozen Cape Region golfers play the Delaware Amateur at Heritage Shores. Junior camps, the PGA Jr. League, and a new agreement between the DSGA and Youth on Course open up opportunities for young golfers. The Lewes Historical Society plans to go ahead with its first-ever golf fundraiser tournament despite the pandemic. However, golf teams at UD and Delaware State suspend their fall seasons. Jay Whitby and golf pro Chris Krueger are the best local golfers at the Delaware Open at The Peninsula.
August – The Rookery celebrates 20 years of Cape Region public golf. Sawyer Brockstedt wins a U.S. Kids World Teen Championship and the regional qualifier for the Notah Begay III Junior Golf Championship, both firsts for any Delaware junior. Wet weather can potentially affect score postings under the new handicap system.
September – The Rookery’s owners regret to announce the closing of the North Course at the end of the year. Bayside Resort leads among several Cape Region courses in the Golf Digest Best Courses You Can Play list for Delaware. Several fall fundraisers come back on schedule. Junior Sam Metz makes a name for himself on the Delaware Eastern Shore Junior Golf Tour. The DSGA goes on a 100-Hole Hike to support its Youth On Course fundraising efforts.
October – I attend the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer and experience the pandemic’s effects on professional golf. For example, fall golf cuts into daylight hours and limits the LPGA field, while also eliminating the hugely popular pro-am element.
November – AIG Women’s Open winner Sophia Popov becomes more relaxed but keeps her competitive mindset. The PGA TOUR announces the first-ever men’s professional tournament in Delaware – the BMW Championship in 2022 at Wilmington CC. Golf charity efforts succeed despite the pandemic.
December – This year’s collection of what I don’t want for Christmas is outstanding, and not in a good way. On the other hand, golf gift opportunities for the holidays are very good.
Thanks for reading! I look forward to another year of writing about Cape Region golf.